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Organic Gardening

The choice to go organic is a decision not to be taken lightly but the outcome of your decision can mean a great many things. A natural garden with no pesticides, chemicals or control other than what nature provides us with can be a wonderful thing. Your garden can become a haven for wildlife, plant problems can be solved in all manner of ways and you can have the satisfaction of growing your own herbs, fruit and vegetables knowing that they are purely natural.

Pests problems can be maintained by biological controls or introducing natural predators. Choose varieties of plants that are naturally pest and disease resistant. Your soil can be maintained by producing your own compost from kitchen waste or using garden waste and leaf mould as mulch. Going organic is not only cheaper but also much more beneficial to our environment. More waste is recycled and not just thrown away and less packaging is sold in the form of chemicals and enhancements.

It is not just the environment that will benefit from more of us going organic but some of our indigenous creatures too. There has been a serious decline in certain species that were once found in abundance in our countryside. If these creatures can find refuge in our gardens away from their once untouched habitats that have now been destroyed by roads or the building of houses then maybe they will be able to make up the numbers again. Bees are under threat in this country due to a lack of native plants so it is essential that we try and stay true to our roots. Native plants grow best in the country they are indigenous to so why aren't there more? It is no exaggeration to say that the demise of bees would have serious implications in the plant world and some species may simply cease to exist if they are not getting pollinated by bees.

Companion Planting - Marigolds planted next to carrots

Encouraging Wildlife 

  • Allow some of your plants such as sunflowers to seed to provide food for birds in winter. 
  • Create little habitats for creatures such as insects, toads and hedgehogs to stay in. Habitats can be made out of logs, piles of timber or drainpipes. Situate them in a corner of your garden out of the way. Toads and hedgehogs will also help you to keep down the numbers of slugs and snails in your garden. 
  • Put up bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths to entice birds. There is nothing better than watching infant birds take their first flying lessons in your garden!
  • If your garden is of a reasonable size introduce a pond. This will not only create a lovely water feature and broaden the plants in which you can put around it but will also encourage amphibians to inhabit it. The sight of dozens of little tadpoles swimming around and lazing newts is a fantastic sight. 
  • Plant native plants to encourage bees and birds into your garden. Ensure that the bees have enough pollen and nectar to survive all year so grow plants that flower at different times. 

Organic gardening will create a gentle balance between pests and their predators. Ensuring that the food chain is intact not only helps keep nasty pests at bay but is also beneficial to your plants. Many pests can seriously demise the health and growth of a plant if not taken care of so introducing a few predators will mean that more of your plants get a chance to grow and bloom.

Organic Pest Control 

  • Ladybirds and their larvae will eat aphids such as greenfly and blackfly and also mites, scale insects and some small caterpillars. Encourage them by having a patch of nettles or honeysuckle on which they will find plentiful amounts of aphids to feast on and having plant debris in which they can hibernate. 
  • Hoverflies, which are sometimes mistaken for wasps due to their colouring, have larvae that will eat up to 50 greenfly a day. They also eat spider mites and small caterpillars. Mature hoverflies eat nectar and pollen. Encourage them by growing plants that are yellow or gold in colour.
  • Dragonflies will eat mosquitoes thus keeping the number down. 
  • Spiders catch flying pests in their webs. Provide areas for them to spin their webs safely.
  • Lacewings, beetles, centipedes, predatory mites, hedgehogs, frogs, toads, glow worms and birds all play an important role in keeping your garden pest free too. 

Plants can also be used to regulate pests as some will act as a natural deterrent. Used predominantly in vegetable gardens these plants will stop pests from nibbling on your produce.


Basil - Repels flies and mosquitoes

Garlic - Deters Japanese beetle

Horseradish - Deters potato bugs

Mint - Deters white cabbage moths and ants

Peppermint - Repels white cabbage butterfly

Rosemary - Deters cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly

Sage - Deters cabbage moth and carrot fly

Marigolds - Deters aphids

Thyme - Deters cabbage worm

Biological Controls

Biological controls such as the ones shown above are achieved by encouraging natural predators to come into your garden or planting natural deterrents to aid in pest reduction. Other biological controls can be introduced directly though if other methods are found to be lacking or in large areas such as greenhouses. Biocontrol agents such as predators, pathogens, and parasitoids are useful in these situations. Predators consume large amounts of pests in their lifetimes. Pathogens are organisms that cause disease such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. They will maim or kill their host and are usually specific to certain pest groups. Parasitoids develop on or in a single host so that when they mature they will cause their host will die.

  • Phtoseilus persimilis can be used to combat red spider mites. They will mature from egg to adult twice as fast as the red spider mite and will minimise infestations swiftly.
  • Nematodes (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) are used to combat slugs. They will find slugs, reproduce inside them and kill them. Nematodes are applied to moist soil by watering and will protect for up to six weeks. Usually used on immature slugs under the surface of the soil. 
  • Trichoderma viride is a fungus used to combat plant disease. It can be used to treat fungal and bacterial growth on tree wounds and for Dutch Elm disease. The potential is also there for treating silver leaf disease.

The pros and cons of introducing new species and methods of biological control into any garden need to be addressed. There have been cases of species being introduced to combat a certain pest or disease and in turn eliminating other species or creating new diseases. Natural, native answers may be the only way forward. For every prey there is a predator and it is usually lurking somewhere close. If you can plant your garden accordingly and introduce these pests then the predators will follow. Chemicals may eliminate pests but they will also deter any predators from entering your garden as there will be no food source for them to eat. These natural predators may soon have nowhere else to go and if we keep killing the food of which they need to survive we may soon see a massive decline in these wonderful creatures.


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