Organic Gardening Column

Organic Gardening Column

Month of July

In an organic garden it is necessary to get rid of pests, but done quickly and without chemicals leaves a cleaner healthier space. I still use my beer traps but in this financial climate with a quieter and less profitable business taking the beer out of my husband’s mouth is becoming harder! The large orange/red slugs I still cannot pick up without gauntlets. (No they are totally safe and cannot hurt me!) I just throw them into the wild space next to the garden, but the snails I now mostly stand on. I find the process quite disgusting but as we have two cats no thrush would be safe on the ground to help me with the slaughter. The remains do end up on the compost heap so add to the natural process of things! Talking of compost heaps; if you are experiencing a dry spell remember to water the heap. An old carpet over the top will help keep moisture in.

July is another month to be enjoying the fruits of our labours. Courgettes are growing at an amazing speed – delicious pan fried courgettes luckily still a favourite, but for how much longer I don’t know! Perhaps we could have a courgette recipe swapping service?

Keep hoeing and keep the perennial weeds on a different heap. If anyone has tried the idea of covering the perennials in water in a waterproof barrel and then covering with polythene do let me know. I have and boy how it smells! The well tightened black polythene over the very large steel bucket when lifted a little lets out the most powerful aroma. I think it is probably ready to use but we need a day when there are no neighbours around!

Keep spraying any aphid infestation with soapy water or high power water jet or sit back and watch the ants “farming” them. The ants run around like little sheepdogs keeping their flocks safe. Aphids suck nitrogen from the plants (fast fix high nitrogen feed encourages this problem) and excrete the excess as honeydew. The ants farm the aphids for this honeydew. Clever! They will also attack any other aphid predator, mainly ladybirds, so some form of sticky band around the stem of the bush, plant or tree will help keeps the ants at bay.

Tomatoes showing signs of possible blight should have the diseased leaves stripped off and burned and keep the watering of tomatoes very regularly or they become susceptible to blossom end rot (blackened area near top) and splitting. Any bean plant that has finished fruiting cut back to the ground. The entire bean family store nitrogen in their roots and slowly release it into the ground so by doing this we gain a free form of feed for the soil! Again keep sowing in succession to have a constant supply of basil, coriander, roquette, radish, lettuce etc. and just sit back as much as possible and enjoy our glorious summer.

July, with perfect weather, is the easiest of months for the organic gardener.

•with thanks to Sheilah Kennedy

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