September 16th 2017 – Organic September Saturday
At the Cutty Garden Allotment, we garden organically. By this, I don’t mean we have certificates and paper work to label us, nor do we employ any secret magic under the full moon.
Simply, when I took on the plot in February 2016, I made a promise to myself, to the environment, and to anyone who would listen, that I would not use any pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers etc within the boundary of the plot.
19 months on, and now with the assistance of Amp, [who has made a significant impact on the plot since we found ourselves in each others lives during that first glorious summer], that dedication to working with nature and avoiding inorganic chemicals continues and is as strong as ever.
‘Organic’ is not new of course, it’s how Great-Grandad, (and his Grandad, and his…) would have done it. Using netting to keep the butterflies away from his cabbages and picking off any caterpillars that made it through, or planting marigolds alongside his beans to distract the black aphids, rather than reaching for the poison spray bottle. It was good old smelly sheep manure he hung in his watering can for feeding his tomatoes; manure he collected in a hessian sack when walking up on the Downs. There’d be a competition with his mate whose garden opened across the back lane, as to who got out there first after the coal man or baker’s horse had been along making its…deposits!
I’m sure both Great-Grandad and I would find the same pleasure in sitting quietly with a cup of tea on the shed doorstep watching the local blackbirds devour yet another slug under the chard leaves, or the blue tits that cling on the fence and reach across to pick aphids off the roses.
Whenever we lift a pot or a compost bag at the Cutty Garden plot, a myriad of invertebrate creatures scatter in all directions. Just because something creeps, crawls or wriggles doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad news. When you take into account all the pollinators and predators, actual ‘pests’ make up only a small proportion of beasties found in the average garden or allotment plot.
With this vast arsenal of weapons against pests and diseases, from companion planting, to homemade concoctions of garlic water, nettle soup, etc, and employing the efforts of beneficial invertebrates, amphibians and birds… it seems illogical to me to reach for the chemical shelf and empty my wallet. I simply don’t feel the need.
Amp’s roses are thriving this year. It’s a bad year for blackspot, but we are tolerating that as it’s not effecting flowering. Thanks to our homemade bug spray (created from a few leftovers from the fridge!), the worst aphid and sawfly attacks seem to have been almost completely avoided. Elsewhere on the plot, regular feeds of organic seaweed solution have been keeping us supplied with more marrows and dahlia flowers than we know what to do with! And delightfully, even now in mid-September, the plot is alive with the sound of bees and the hopping of frogs and toads. There is nothing like being able to sit back at the end of a day tending the plot, and know, that nature is simply getting on with it.
Organic your life this September: