Organic Gardening
Guidelines
Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens,
Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 3LG
Tel: 024 7630 3517
Fax: 024 7663 9229
Email: enquiry@gardeno...
Organic Gardening
Guidelines

Contents
Introducing the guidelines ................................................page 4
O...
Organic Gardening Guidelines
Why organic gardening matters
Gardening and growing offers great benefits for us all – benefi...
Organic Gardening Guidelines

How the Guidelines work
These guidelines are divided into ten sections, each covering differ...
Organic acceptability ratings
These guidelines recognize that the level of organic gardening you undertake is
dependent on...
Organic acceptability ratings

Best organic
practice – the
first choice

Acceptable
organic practice

Acceptable, but
not ...
Organic soil care
A healthy soil is the basis for growing healthy plants and healthy food. The soil
is full of life – worm...
Organic soil care

Never acceptable in an organic garden
Using excessive quantities of nutrient rich manures and fertilise...
Organic soil care

Bulky organic soil improvers
Bulky organic soil improvers are materials such as garden compost and stra...
Organic soil care

Bulky organic soil improvers – Plant wastes
Best organic practice – the first choice
Home made compost,...
Organic soil care

Acceptable, but not for regular use
Straw and hay from non-organic, non-intensive systems. Check with
s...
Organic soil care

Bulky organic soil improvers – Application rates
and timing
Material

Timing and Maximum rate of applic...
Organic soil care

Bulky organic soil improvers – Animal wastes
Organic farms, apart from some poultry farms, must recycle...
Organic soil care

Organic fertilisers
Composted plant wastes and manures, and green manures (particularly nitrogen
fixing...
Organic soil care

Acceptable, but not for regular use
Meat, blood,bone, hoof and horn meals, on areas where no livestock ...
Plant raising and growing in containers
Seeds and other planting material
Start with good quality sowing and planting mate...
Plant raising and growing in containers

Growing media
An organic growing medium – seed, potting, or multipurpose compost ...
Plant raising and growing in containers

Plant raising and growing in containers
The basis of organic growing is a healthy...
Plant raising and growing in containers

Liquid feeds
Organic liquid feeds provide nutrients in a more readily available f...
Garden and plant health
The idea of a healthy garden, rather than simply pest and disease free plants, is
at the heart of ...
Garden and plant health

Biodiversity
Best organic practice – the first choice
Grow a diversity of plants to provide food,...
Garden and plant health

Cleaning greenhouses and other structures, and pots,
tubs and other containers
Best organic pract...
Garden and plant health

Managing pests, diseases and other causes of plant
ill health
Prevention is the key to success wh...
Garden and plant health

Biological and physical methods
Best organic practice – the first choice
Encourage biodiversity
L...
Garden and plant health

Barriers and crop covers
Barriers and crop covers can be very effective, and harmless to wildlife...
Garden and plant health

Pest and disease control sprays
Although less harmful than many pesticides, the products listed h...
Garden and plant health

Never acceptable in an organic garden
Copper based fungicides. These guidelines recognise the env...
Weeds
Clearance, management and control
A weed is an opportunist plant that will rapidly appear in bare soil and can
becom...
Weeds

Cover the ground with a mulch (Guidelines ‘rating’ will depend on
material used)
Design the garden to limit areas w...
Weeds

Mulches for weed clearance and control
See also: Bulky organic soil improvers – plant wastes (page 11)
Best organic...
Water Use
The aim in an organic garden is to minimise the need for watering, and to collect
rainwater as possible for use ...
Water Use

Never acceptable in an organic garden
Ineffective and wasteful use of water
FS Garden Organic factsheets
FS
FS
...
Wood (timber) in the garden
Wood has many uses in the garden, including fencing, compost bins, support
structures, bed edg...
Wood (timber) in the garden

Acceptable, but not for regular use
Synthetic ‘wood’ alternatives, made from recycled materia...
Energy use in the garden
Energy use – in manufacture, processing, packaging, transportation, and final
use – has been take...
Energy use in the garden

Acceptable, but not for regular use
Petrol and electricity driven tools until they can be replac...
To find out more
These guidelines cover every aspect of gardening organically, but they are not a
gardening manual. Garden...
About

Garden Organic
Garden Organic is the national charity dedicated to researching and
promoting sustainable growing, a...
Garden Organic is the UK’s leading
organic growing charity, and is dedicated
to researching and promoting organic
gardenin...
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Organic Gardening Guidelines Manual ~ United Kingdom

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Organic Edible Schoolyards & Gardening with Children
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Healthy Foods Dramatically Improves Student Academic Success
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Simple Square Foot Gardening for Schools - Teacher Guide
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Organic Gardening Guidelines Manual ~ United Kingdom

  1. 1. Organic Gardening Guidelines
  2. 2. Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 3LG Tel: 024 7630 3517 Fax: 024 7663 9229 Email: enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk www.gardenorganic.org.uk
  3. 3. Organic Gardening Guidelines Contents Introducing the guidelines ................................................page 4 Organic acceptability ratings ...........................................page 7 Organic soil care ................................................................page 8 Techniques Crop rotation Bulky organic materials Organic fertilisers Plant raising and growing in containers ........................page 17 Seeds and other planting material Growing media Plant raising and growing in containers Liquid feeds Garden and plant health .................................................page 22 Keeping the garden healthy Cleaning structures and containers Managing pests and diseases Weeds ...............................................................................page 29 Techniques Mulches for weed clearance and control Water use .........................................................................page 32 Wood (timber) in the garden .........................................page 34 Energy use in the garden ................................................page 36 To find out more ..............................................................page 38 The Organic Gardening Guidelines are also available on the Garden Organic website Designed and set by Cottier & Sidaway ©1999 Garden Organic. Update & reprint ©2010 3
  4. 4. Organic Gardening Guidelines Why organic gardening matters Gardening and growing offers great benefits for us all – benefits for the environment, for people’s health and wellbeing, for food security and for building stronger communities. Our outdoor growing space, be it the garden, the allotment, the school or community garden or just a small space nearby, is a place where we relax and recharge both spiritually and physically. It is also a place where we can learn and reconnect with nature and the food we eat and where we can take practical action to adopt sustainable lifestyles. Using the organic approach to gardening and growing, which Garden Organic has been promoting for over 50 years, will ensure that these benefits can be achieved and enjoyed to their full potential. Organic gardening methods harness the natural cycles and processes that promote plant growth. These guidelines outline what organic gardening means in practice. Following them will help you to care for the environment and to cut your ‘carbon footprint’ by ‘reducing, reusing and recycling’ resources, while creating a flourishing growing space. All gardens and gardeners Garden Organic’s guidelines cover every area of gardening – from fruit and vegetable growing to lawns and ornamentals, from herbs to hanging baskets, from paths to pergolas. They are for use by all levels of gardener, from the raw novice to the experienced professional. The methods are particularly relevant for use by children, the gardeners of the future. The word ‘garden’ is used as a generic term to mean garden, allotment, balcony, school or community plot or wherever else you may be growing. A voluntary code These Organic Gardening Guidelines are a voluntary code of practice, and following, or signing up, to them does not permit the sale of produce labelled as organic. The guidelines are based on the principles and practices of organic agriculture, as defined by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and they have been interpreted and adapted by Garden Organic to apply to garden scale growing. 4 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  5. 5. Organic Gardening Guidelines How the Guidelines work These guidelines are divided into ten sections, each covering different aspects of garden care. Each section starts with general principles, followed by detailed lists of the practices, materials and products that can, or should not, be used in an organic garden. These have been divided up into four categories, or ratings, from ‘Best organic practice’ to ‘Never acceptable in an organic garden’. See over page for details. Taking things further These guidelines are not a gardening manual. They are designed to be used alongside good gardening practice, which is the mainstay of all gardening. Sources of further information are listed on page 38. FS Garden Organic factsheets Garden Organic produces factsheets on a wide range of organic gardening topics. Those relevant to the subjects covered in these guidelines are listed under the FS symbol throughout this booklet. Factsheets can be viewed on our website, or send for a list to Gardening Advice, Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens, Coventry CV8 3LG, 024 7630 3517 www.gardenorganic.org.uk 5
  6. 6. Organic acceptability ratings These guidelines recognize that the level of organic gardening you undertake is dependent on personal choice and circumstance – hence the three levels of ‘organic acceptability’. We have given each level a different ‘smiley’ face, so that the guidelines are easy to interpret at glance. Best organic practice – the first choice Acceptable organic practice Acceptable, but not for regular use Never acceptable in an organic garden In an ideal world, every garden would be run using only ‘Best organic practice’ but this is not realistic in this day and age. We hope that, as you gain experience, and your garden develops organically, you will be able to move more towards and away from . The ‘Never acceptable in an organic garden’ category is not a comprehensive list. If practices or products in this category, or that do not fall into one of the acceptable categories, is used, the garden would not be considered as organic under these guidelines. The issues Organic gardening does not stop at the garden gate, and to create a sustainable future we must also look to the wider environment. But these guidelines must also be practical and manageable. The issues that have been considered when deciding on which ‘smiley face’ to allocate to a practice or product are outlined in the table opposite. It is not always easy to make a precise decision, and there are times when you will need to make your own value judgements. Would you, for example, consider an imported product with an organic symbol more acceptable than a local product, not organically produced? Taking all these issues into account, we have aimed to ensure that these Organic Gardening Guidelines are practical. 6 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  7. 7. Organic acceptability ratings Best organic practice – the first choice Acceptable organic practice Acceptable, but not for regular use Never acceptable in an organic garden Organic credentials Organically grown or from recognised organic sources, preferably with a recognised organic symbol From low input and low impact systems From non organic sources, but within certain limits Not organic and outside any limits set Ecological impact in use Enhancing and harnessing natural processes No particular environmental benefit Possible negative impact Ecologically harmful Toxicity None Low May kill organisms other than those targeted Unacceptably toxic, and/or persistent in the environment Sustainability Sustainable Sustainable May not be sustainable in the longer term Unsustainable Sources Garden/ allotment Local/regional National/ imported Imported Materials Reused Recycled waste product New materials Highly processed Energy use Little or no fossil fuel energy required in use or manufacture Fossil fuel energy required in use or manufacture Fossil fuel energy required in use or manufacture Unacceptable fossil fuel energy required in use or manufacture Packaging Loose/no packaging Environmentally sound/minimal packaging Non recyclable packaging Excessive nonrecyclable packaging Disposal None required Disposal causes little or no environmental hazard Disposal may be hazardous to the environment Disposal hazardous to the environment and/or human health www.gardenorganic.org.uk 7
  8. 8. Organic soil care A healthy soil is the basis for growing healthy plants and healthy food. The soil is full of life – worms, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic creatures – which create its structure and fertility. When looking after your soil organically you will be improving the diversity, and supporting the activity, of these vital creatures. You will be avoiding activities and inputs that disrupt and harm the soil ecosystem. Techniques Activities and practices for organic soil care Best organic practice – the first choice Get to know the soil you are working with Grow plants that suit the existing soil conditions. Where necessary, use organic methods to improve the soil, but don’t try to change soil conditions too drastically Keep the soil covered with growing plants, green manure cover crops, or an organic mulch. This protects and improves the soil structure Grow green manures to improve soil structure and to recycle, and add, plant foods. This includes clover in lawns Maintain soil humus levels, biological activity and fertility, where necessary, by applying home made compost, or other bulky organic materials in appropriate quantities and at the appropriate season (see pages 8-11, and factsheets.) Recycle organic kitchen and garden waste within the garden, by making compost, or through other processes such as making leafmould Use a crop rotation (see page 7) No dig techniques Acceptable organic practice Minimal soil cultivation, as necessary Acceptable, but not for regular use Rotavating, to clear ground or turn in green manures Digging between November and February, other than on clay soils to leave ground exposed to frost 8 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  9. 9. Organic soil care Never acceptable in an organic garden Using excessive quantities of nutrient rich manures and fertilisers Unnecessary digging, rotavating and other soil cultivations Growing food on potentially contaminated soils, such as brownfield sites, unless analysis shows that the levels of contamination are acceptable (see FS ) Crop rotation Crop rotation is an essential technique for managing soil fertility, and for pest and disease control. Briefly, crop rotation means not replanting the same type of plant, or another of the same family, in the same site for a period of years. It is most often used with annual vegetables, but the same principles can be applied to perennial fruit crops and other plants. • An interval of at least 3 years, or more between plants of the same family, or longer if necessary where a specific problem is identified • Include nitrogen fixing green manures in a vegetable crop rotation • In a greenhouse, where a 4 year rotation may not be possible, pay particular attention to building and maintaining soil health • Alternate fertility building crops with those which take a lot from the soil • Alternate weed suppressing plants with those that compete poorly with weeds FS Garden Organic factsheets FS FS FS FS FS FS FS FS FS Composts and manures in the organic garden Contaminated soils, manures and plant wastes Crop rotation Green Manures How to make compost Know your soil Managing your soil Mulches for weed prevention and control Using woody garden waste www.gardenorganic.org.uk 9
  10. 10. Organic soil care Bulky organic soil improvers Bulky organic soil improvers are materials such as garden compost and strawy manure; they are bulky, as compared with a bag of fertiliser, and their ingredients are ‘organic’ in that they are of living origin. In an ideal world they would all contain only organically grown ingredients. Bulky organic soil improvers are generally ‘waste’ materials. Recycling plant and animal wastes in the soil imitates the recycling of nutrients carried out in nature, and is the mainstay of organic soil fertility. Bulky organic materials are high in plant fibre, which is a vital food for the soil life that builds and maintains the soil structure. They also contain plant foods, in levels that will vary between different types of material, and how those materials have been stored. Waste materials from your kitchen and your growing plot should be your first choice. Then try and source further materials as locally as possible. Manures, straw or hay should be obtained only from organic, or low input systems. When buying ‘commercial’ products, choose those with an organic symbol, or wording, from an approved organic certification organisation, where possible. Storing and processing plant and animal wastes Bulky plant materials and animal manures should be composted or left to rot down before use. The composting process stabilises the material, reduces or destroys pathogens and weed seeds, and makes the materials easier to handle and apply. Keep the heap covered to reduce loss of plant foods (which can be washed out by rain) and prevent weed seeds being blown onto the heap. Materials from non-organic sources should be composted or stored for at least 6 months before use. Rates of use It is important not to ‘overdose’ the soil with nutrient rich manures and composts. This is wasteful of resources, can cause pollution, and can encourage excessive growth that is more vulnerable to pest and disease attack. For recommended rates of use see page 13. 10 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  11. 11. Organic soil care Bulky organic soil improvers – Plant wastes Best organic practice – the first choice Home made compost, and worm compost, made from weeds and plant residues; kitchen waste; low grade paper and card; other compostable household ‘waste’ Autumn leaves and leafmould Shredded woody prunings Lawn mowings, comfrey leaves and other fresh green materials. These make ideal compost activators All the above should come from within the individual garden (or allotment, field, growing plot) Grow green manure cover crops Acceptable organic practice Autumn leaves from local parks, cemeteries and other traffic-free areas Bought in composts made from green waste and other materials approved in these guidelines. Ideally with a recognised organic symbol or conforming to PAS 100 standard Straw and hay, from organic sources Shredded prunings from local sources Chipped or shredded wood – from wood not treated with preservatives Composted bark, from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forests, preferably organically approved Sawdust and wood shavings, preferably from local sources, from wood not treated with preservatives Other local waste plant materials, such as bracken and spent hops, composted before use if not from a certified organic source Mushroom compost from certified organic sources www.gardenorganic.org.uk 11
  12. 12. Organic soil care Acceptable, but not for regular use Straw and hay from non-organic, non-intensive systems. Check with supplier as to what herbicides have been used; some may harm plants Mushroom compost from non-organic mushroom producers, stored under cover, or composted, for six months before use Never acceptable in an organic garden Peat or coir as a soil conditioner Leaves from busy roadsides and other polluted locations Leaves and leafmould collected from woodlands Any materials contaminated with excessive levels of potentially toxic elements, (see FS ). 12 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  13. 13. Organic soil care Bulky organic soil improvers – Application rates and timing Material Timing and Maximum rate of application Compost – garden, home made Apply in spring, summer, or early autumn Use up to 1 wheelbarrowful per 5 sq. metres per year Compost – green waste Apply at any time Use up to 1 wheelbarrowful per 3 sq. metres per year Compost – worm Apply in spring, summer, or early autumn Use up to 1 wheelbarrowful per 10 sq. metres per year Leafmould Apply at any time, in a layer 2-3cm deep Manure – straw based animal manures (ex. poultry) Apply when well rotted, in spring, summer or early autumn Use up to 1 wheelbarrowful per 10 sq. metres per year Manure – poultry, with bedding material Apply when well rotted, in spring, summer or early autumn Use up to 1 wheelbarrowful per 20 sq. metres per year Topsoil Acceptable, but not for regular use Where the layer of topsoil is inadequate, or nonexistent, bought in topsoil conforming to BSI standards, can be used, along with the materials listed in this bulky organic soil improvers section. www.gardenorganic.org.uk 13
  14. 14. Organic soil care Bulky organic soil improvers – Animal wastes Organic farms, apart from some poultry farms, must recycle manures on the farm, so you are unlikely to be able to obtain certified organic manures. Try to source manures from ‘free range’ or low input farms/smallholdings. Do not use manures from factory farming systems or where animals have been fed genetically modified (GM) crops. The way in which these materials are stored, or processed before use, and the rates and timing of application is vital to their acceptability in organic growing (see pages 10 and 13). Best organic practice – the first choice Well rotted manures and bedding from herbivorous pets, and any livestock kept in the individual garden (or allotment, field, growing plot), applied at appropriate rates and times Acceptable organic practice Straw-based horse, cattle, pig, sheep and goat manures, from organic systems. It should be well rotted before use and applied at appropriate rates and times Acceptable, but not for regular use Straw-based horse, cattle, pig, sheep and goat manures, from non intensive systems. It must be well rotted before use Wood shavings based horse manure. This must be very well rotted before use Poultry manures from non intensive egg and meat-producing systems. Commercially available, composted, straw-based animal manures, preferably with an organic symbol Chicken manure pellets – see Animal based fertilisers, page 15 Never acceptable in an organic garden Manure applied in late autumn or winter months Fresh manures Manures, and processed animal by-products, from intensive farming Materials polluted with heavy metals and other pollutants that exceed the permitted levels, (see FS ) Products containing sewage Compost activators containing artificial fertilisers Manures from livestock fed on genetically modified crops 14 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  15. 15. Organic soil care Organic fertilisers Composted plant wastes and manures, and green manures (particularly nitrogen fixing legumes), are the main ways of adding plant foods to the soil. Organic fertilizers are only used where a soil or plant deficiency occurs which cannot be remedied otherwise, or where you cannot make, or bring in, enough compost or other bulky organic materials. Fertilisers suitable for use in an organic garden are of plant, animal or mineral origin. Most of them are waste products. The action of soil living creatures, or the weather, makes the nutrients they contain available to plants, in a ‘slow release’ way. The mining and/or shipping of some of these products can have an adverse environmental impact, so think carefully before use. Choose a product with a recognised organic symbol as first choice. Liquid feeds see page 20 Plant based fertilisers Best organic practice – the first choice Home grown nettle, comfrey and other leaves used in a planting trench or as a mulch Acceptable organic practice Wood ash, from wood not chemically treated after felling, recycled through a compost heap. Acceptable, but not for regular use Dried seaweed meal – from sustainable sources Fertilisers based on plant waste products and extracts, such as kali vinasse, lucerne, comfrey, cocoa shells Animal based fertilisers Best organic practice – the first choice None Acceptable organic practice None www.gardenorganic.org.uk 15
  16. 16. Organic soil care Acceptable, but not for regular use Meat, blood,bone, hoof and horn meals, on areas where no livestock have access, and in growing media Chicken manure pellets, from organic sources only, with a recognised organic symbol Wool based products, not containing pesticide residues. Mineral based fertilizers, and materials for raising pH (liming) Acceptable, but not for regular use Natural forms of calcium carbonate and calcium/magnesium carbonate, including ground limestone, chalk, marl and magnesian limestone (dolomite). Use for raising soil pH, and as sources of calcium and magnesium. Calcium sulphate (gypsum) Ground rock phosphate Aluminium calcium phosphate, where soil pH is over 7.5. (Cadmium content must be less than 90mg cadmium per kg phosphate) Rock dust (stone meal), if a by-product of quarrying Never acceptable in an organic garden Calcified seaweed Slaked lime Quicklime Soluble chemical fertilisers Guano, urea, Chilean nitrate Materials to supply trace elements Acceptable, but not for regular use Rock dust and stone meals if by-products of the quarry industry Seaweed meal and liquid seaweed extracts Sulphur dust or chips Calcium chloride solution, for treatment of bitter pit in apples Manganese sulphate Borax (for boron deficiency) Epsom salts, for acute magnesium deficiency Fertilisers and liquid feeds containing boron, copper, iron, molybdenum, cobalt, selenium, zinc, sodium 16 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  17. 17. Plant raising and growing in containers Seeds and other planting material Start with good quality sowing and planting material to help ensure healthy plants. Organic seeds, plants, tubers and other planting material are available, but growing your own is ideal where possible. Best organic practice – the first choice Home saved seed, from disease-free parent plants Home-grown transplants, preferably bare root Seeds, tubers, sets, bulbs, plants and transplants with an organic symbol from an approved organic certification body Acceptable organic practice Seeds, tubers, sets and bulbs from non-organic sources, where not available as organic. They must not have been treated with fungicides after harvest Container grown plants and transplants in peat-free growing media, but without an accredited organic symbol Natural hormone products, such as seaweed extract, to promote rooting of cuttings Acceptable, but not for regular use Container grown plants and transplants in peat-based growing media, but without an accredited organic symbol Never acceptable in an organic garden Plants taken from the wild Genetically modified seeds and planting material, should they become available Seeds, bulbs, sets and tubers treated with fungicides after harvest Synthetic hormone rooting powders Cleaning structures and containers see page 24 www.gardenorganic.org.uk 17
  18. 18. Plant raising and growing in containers Growing media An organic growing medium – seed, potting, or multipurpose compost – has, as its main ingredient, biologically active material, such as composted plant wastes. Seed compost should be low in nutrients. Other mixes should provide plants with nutrients for as long as possible, to limit the need for liquid feeding. Best organic practice – the first choice Make your own growing media using home made garden compost and other bulky organic ingredients from those listed in the Soil Care section Acceptable organic practice Loam from the garden as an ingredient in growing media, returned to the garden after use Organic fertilisers, including animal by-products, as ingredients of growing media Commercially available growing media, with an organic symbol, or wording, from an approved organic certification organisation Commercially available growing media containing materials listed in the Soil Care section of these guidelines Acceptable, but not for regular use Coarse grade seaweed meal for moisture retention Sulphur chips to lower pH (increase acidity) Horticultural sand and grit Vermiculite and perlite Coir Bought in loam (topsoil) Never acceptable in an organic garden Growing media containing materials not approved in these guidelines, including non-organic fertilisers and peat Peat, other than recycled/reclaimed peat FS Garden Organic factsheets FS FS 18 Make your own potting compost Hanging basket liners Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  19. 19. Plant raising and growing in containers Plant raising and growing in containers The basis of organic growing is a healthy, biologically active, soil, which supplies plants with all their needs. Plants growing in the restricted environment of a pot will always be more reliant on additional feeding and watering, and be more prone to pest and disease. Growing directly in the ground is recommended where possible. Best organic practice – the first choice Use an organic growing medium (see page 18) Use the largest appropriate container size to reduce the need for additional feeding, and the risk of drying out Home made paper pots, wooden trays, foodstuff and other reused and recycled containers Hanging basket liners made from recycled, biodegradable materials such as moss from your lawn, hay or a pure wool jumper. Cleaning containers with steam, hot water, scrubbing and high pressure hose Acceptable organic practice Reused plastic pots and trays; clay pots Biodegradable hanging basket liners Commercially available pots made from paper, plant wastes and other biodegradable materials, excluding peat Plant tonics and biostimulants as on page 23 of these guidelines Composted organic materials and organic fertilisers for additional feeding Organic liquid feeds Acceptable, but not for regular use Strong plastic pots and trays, preferably made from recycled plastic, that can be reused many times Never acceptable in an organic garden Tyres as a container for growing food crops, unless lined first Moss gathered from the wild for hanging basket liners Hydroponic systems Peat pots www.gardenorganic.org.uk 19
  20. 20. Plant raising and growing in containers Liquid feeds Organic liquid feeds provide nutrients in a more readily available form than composts and fertilisers, but do little to encourage soil flora and fauna. For this reason, in organic gardening they are only used on plants growing in a restricted environment such as a container – seed tray, pot, growing bag, hanging basket etc – or in a greenhouse or polytunnel soil border. The major supply of nutrients should always come from the compost or soil in which the plants are growing. See also : Plant tonics, stimulants and microbial products, (page 23) Best organic practice – the first choice None Acceptable organic practice Home made liquid feeds made from comfrey leaves, nettles and other plant wastes Liquid from worm composting systems Liquid feeds made from manures from livestock kept in the garden or allotment Liquid feeds based on plant products approved in these guidelines, preferably with an organic symbol, or wording, from an approved organic certification organisation Acceptable, but not for regular use Liquid feeds made from brought in animal manures that are acceptable under these Guidelines (see page 14) Commercially available liquid feeds based on animal by-products approved in these Guidelines, preferably with an organic symbol, or wording, from an approved organic certification organisation Products containing trace elements to correct deficiencies that cannot be corrected in any other way (see page 16) Never acceptable in an organic garden Fish emulsion, unless based on waste products of organic fishing industry Products containing artificially produced nutrients 20 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  21. 21. Garden and plant health The idea of a healthy garden, rather than simply pest and disease free plants, is at the heart of organic growing. The first part of this section, Keeping the garden healthy, looks at ways of maintaining a garden with a diverse, vigorous, ecosystem that can, to a great extent, look after its own well-being. More specific action is only taken as necessary against particular pests, diseases or adverse environmental factors. This is covered in the section Managing pests and diseases, (pages 25-28). Keeping the garden healthy Use the information in all sections of these organic guidelines, combined with good horticultural practice, to help you create and maintain a diverse active ecosystem in your garden, both below and above ground. General gardening Best organic practice – the first choice Create a fertile, biologically active soil. Add composted organic materials to help reduce soil pests and diseases, and increase plant resistance. Use a crop rotation, minimum four year, for annual vegetables (see page 9) Grow plants that suit the location and soil type Start with healthy seeds, tubers, plants, fruit bushes, shrubs and other planting material, certified disease free where possible Grow varieties with some resistance to pest and disease Choose sowing and planting dates to avoid specific pests and diseases To reduce risk of diseases developing, prune trees and bushes, design plantings, and keep greenhouses and other protective structures well ventilated, to allow a good airflow When watering, apply water to the soil rather than the plant foliage Ensure plants have an appropriate supply of water www.gardenorganic.org.uk 21
  22. 22. Garden and plant health Biodiversity Best organic practice – the first choice Grow a diversity of plants to provide food, shelter and habitats for predators, parasites, and other wildlife Leave some ‘relaxed’ areas, such as leaves under a hedge, weeds, or an area of longer grass and for example, to feed and shelter wildlife There will always be ‘pests’ present, but they do not always create a problem. They are also a necessary source of food for valuable predators and parasites Learn to recognise the many creatures, from hedgehogs to hoverflies, which consume pests, and disease-causing organisms, as part of their diet Where practical, grow a mix of types and varieties of plant to reduce risk of pest and disease infestation and spread. This includes companion planting Plant tonics, stimulants and microbial products Plant tonics and biostimulants may help to promote plant growth and boost a plant’s natural defences against pests and diseases. Home made compost ‘teas’ Liquid seaweed extract Microbial products, including mycorhizzae 22 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  23. 23. Garden and plant health Cleaning greenhouses and other structures, and pots, tubs and other containers Best organic practice – the first choice Pressure-washing Hot water/steam and scrubbing Acceptable, but not for regular use Natural plant essences including citrus juices Natural cleaning products such as vinegar, bicarbonate of soda FS Garden Organic factsheets FS FS FS FS FS FS Crop rotation Companion or mixed planting Organic pest and disease control Various wildlife gardening factsheets Water use in the garden See also: Factsheets on page 9 www.gardenorganic.org.uk 23
  24. 24. Garden and plant health Managing pests, diseases and other causes of plant ill health Prevention is the key to success when dealing with plant problems. The section ‘Keeping the garden healthy’ (pages 21 – 23) covers ways in which this can be done. When a specific problem arises, it is important to identify the cause, so you can decide if any action is needed (many plants can live quite happily with some pest or disease infestation) and, if so, to plan an appropriate strategy for dealing with it. Note that environmental factors such as waterlogging, frost, cold winds and ‘human’ factors such as strimmer damage or over-feeding, can also cause plant symptoms. Where problems are known to occur regularly, there are a range of ‘plant protection’ barriers and traps that can be used. There are a few pesticide sprays that can be used in organic growing, but they are not harmless, and you should keep their use to a minimum. If you find yourself having to use pesticides regularly, despite using the other strategies suggested, then perhaps you might consider growing something different. 24 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  25. 25. Garden and plant health Biological and physical methods Best organic practice – the first choice Encourage biodiversity Learn to tell the difference between creatures that can harm plants and those that will not Check plants regularly, squashing or picking off pests and infected foliage as they occur Use other physical methods, such as shaking the plant or dislodging pests with a sharp jet of water Learn about the life cycle of pests and diseases to help develop strategies to combat them Use comfrey and other leaves as slug baits and barriers Acceptable organic practice None Acceptable, but not for regular use Biological control agents. These are natural predators and pathogens that can be purchased for controlling specific pests. Plastic bottle cloches, home-made from used bottles Crop covers including horticultural fleece and fine mesh materials Netting, plastic and wire; gauge appropriate to size of pest Electric fencing Fruit tree grease and grease bands Yellow sticky traps, without added pesticides. For use in greenhouse or conservatory only, unless for monitoring pest presence Cabbage root fly mats, preferably home made Copper tape Granules, and other similar commercially available physical barriers, against slugs Pheromone baited sticky traps, not containing pesticides – for monitoring pest presence only Slug traps baited with beer or other attractants, not containing pesticides www.gardenorganic.org.uk 25
  26. 26. Garden and plant health Barriers and crop covers Barriers and crop covers can be very effective, and harmless to wildlife. The reason they are in this category is because of concerns over the energy used to make them, their lifespan, and how they are disposed of. Try to recycle waste materials, and avoid single use of new materials. FS Garden Organic factsheets Detailed factsheets on a whole range of pests and diseases are available. They can be found on www.gardenorganic.org.uk, or contact Garden Organic for a full list. J Lillywhite 26 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  27. 27. Garden and plant health Pest and disease control sprays Although less harmful than many pesticides, the products listed here can still disrupt the natural ecosystem, and may harm other creatures. Avoid their use where possible, and concentrate on using all the other available organic methods. Use only those products containing the ‘active ingredients’ listed below. Always follow the instructions for use on the product label. For pest control Acceptable, but not for regular use Plant oils and other plant based products with a physical mode of action Starch based products with a physical mode of action Natural pyrethrum products (pyrethrins extracted from Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium) Fatty acid potassium salt soaps Iron phosphate (Iron (III) orthophosphate) slug pellets Microbes and microbal extracts such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) – note that products containing Bt are only available to professional growers For disease control Acceptable, but not for regular use Potassium bicarbonate (>99.0% w/w Potassium Hydrogen Carbonate (Bicarbonate)) Sulphur For rodent control Acceptable, but not for regular use Mouse traps Rodenticides, approved by the Pesticide Safety Directorate, used in tamper-proof bait stations www.gardenorganic.org.uk 27
  28. 28. Garden and plant health Never acceptable in an organic garden Copper based fungicides. These guidelines recognise the environmental hazards of these products, and no longer recommend their use in organic growing Any active ingredient/product not registered as a pesticide with the Pesticide Safety Directorate; this includes homemade pesticide sprays, washing up liquid, or any other household products Any other pesticide not included in the Garden Organic Guidelines J Bartlett 28 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  29. 29. Weeds Clearance, management and control A weed is an opportunist plant that will rapidly appear in bare soil and can become a nuisance to gardeners, completing for light, water, nutrients and space with ‘desired’ plants. They may be wild plants, or cultivated plants that have spread too far. Weeds also bring biodiversity to a garden and some can be vital in to the survival of butterflies and other wildlife. Where necessary, weeds can be managed using the range of methods outlined below. Prevention is the key and cuts down on the work in the long run. There are no organic herbicides for clearing weedy ground of perennial weeds, but there are other methods that can be used. It is worth allowing sufficient time (which could be months or even a year or more) to clear perennial weeds completely, before planting up with perennial plants such as fruit bushes, shrubs or herbaceous flowers. Clearing weedy ground Best organic practice – the first choice Cover the ground with a mulch (Guidelines ‘rating’ will depend on material used) Cultivate by hand (digging etc) Use livestock, such as pigs, chickens, geese Mow/ cut to clear certain weeds Acceptable organic practice Cultivate with a rotavator or other mechanical cultivator Maintenance Best organic practice – the first choice Grow ground cover plants, including green manures Use close spacing (where appropriate), vigorous varieties, intercropping and undersowing to inhibit weed germination and growth Clear perennial weeds thoroughly before planting perennial plants Hand weeding, hoe, dig out Cut problem weeds, such as docks and thistles, to prevent them seeding www.gardenorganic.org.uk 29
  30. 30. Weeds Cover the ground with a mulch (Guidelines ‘rating’ will depend on material used) Design the garden to limit areas where weeds can become a problem Keep soil disturbance to a minimum to avoid bringing dormant weeds to the surface Crop rotation (see page 9) Stale seedbed before sowing Paths, drives and other hard surfaces Best organic practice – the first choice Reduce shade from plants to discourage algae and moss Pressure wash, or clean with a stiff brush Construct paths, driveways and other hard surfaces well, to prevent weeds growing through from below, or taking hold on the surface Use regularly – surfaces not used regularly are more likely to grow weeds Hoe gravel Acceptable, but not for regular use Use a thermal/flame weeder Weed killing sprays containing fatty acids, such as pelargonic acid, as the active ingredient; for hard landscaping only Biodiversity Best organic practice – the first choice Recognise that weeds can bring something positive to your garden Allow some weeds to flourish where they are not going to compete with your chosen plants Lawns Best organic practice – the first choice Accept a certain level of ‘weeds’ in a lawn, and recognise their benefits Amend soil pH, drainage and fertility as appropriate to encourage vigorous growth Choose appropriate varieties of grass seeds for location and use Don’t cut grass too short, particularly in dry weather 30 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  31. 31. Weeds Mulches for weed clearance and control See also: Bulky organic soil improvers – plant wastes (page 11) Best organic practice – the first choice Recycled plant materials from garden or allotment. Cardboard and newspaper Loose mulches, commercially available, with an organic symbol, or wording, from an approved organic certification organisation Loose mulches, commercially available, made from recycled plant materials. Products from local sources, and those not packaged are preferable Acceptable, but not for regular use Biodegradable mulch fabrics made from paper, wool, hemp and other natural materials; also biodegradable, non-GM, starch based materials. Bagged biodegradable mulches from non organic sources Inert materials such as gravel, slate waste, recycled glass – preferably from recycled and/or local sources. Consider environmental impact Permeable synthetic materials – [polypropylene, polyethylene or other polycarbonates only] for ground clearance, long-term plantings and under paths, driveways etc. Impermeable synthetic materials, such as black polythene – for ground clearance only Never acceptable in an organic garden Any materials from unsustainable sources Carpet as a mulch FS Garden Organic factsheets FS FS Chemical-free plot clearing Mulches for weed prevention and control Organic Weed Management website For more detailed information on organic weed control, particularly for farmers and growers, but also of interest to gardeners, go to www.organicweeds.org.uk www.gardenorganic.org.uk 31
  32. 32. Water Use The aim in an organic garden is to minimise the need for watering, and to collect rainwater as possible for use in the garden. Where watering is necessary, water should be applied in ways that make best use of it. Gardens act as valuable ‘soakaways’ for rainwater – an increasingly important function with the increase in heavy downpours. Do not pave or tarmac a whole garden. Even areas used for parking can incorporate some soakaway areas. Best organic practice – the first choice Where soil is light and free draining, grow drought tolerant plants Maximise water holding capacity of soil by adding organic matter (see pages 10 – 14) Mulch the soil to reduce water loss (see page 31) Keep soil cultivations to a minimum Don’t cut lawn grass shorter than 2.5cm; leave it slightly longer in drought conditions Allow weeds such as clover and yarrow to grow in a lawn; they will help to keep it green in dry weather Ensure pond liners don’t leak, reducing the need for topping up Try to sow or transplant just before rain is forecast, rather than just before a spell of dry weather Protect young plants from sun and drying winds Collect as much rain water as you can Think before you water; water mainly to establish plants; many, particularly shrubs, trees and perennials rarely need watering Acceptable organic practice Make effective use of water by only watering at key points in a plant’s lifecycle, and then only if necessary Give the ground around plants a good soaking so that the water penetrates the soil, rather than just moistening the surface Apply water to the soil rather than foliage. A hand held hose or watering can will direct the water where it is needed If using an irrigation system, chose a drip system rather than sprinklers To minimise losses through evaporation, water in the evening, or at night, rather than in the heat of the day Acceptable, but not for regular use Use ‘grey’ water, from baths, sinks and showers, to water non-food plants 32 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  33. 33. Water Use Never acceptable in an organic garden Ineffective and wasteful use of water FS Garden Organic factsheets FS FS Water in the organic garden factsheet Mulches www.gardenorganic.org.uk 33
  34. 34. Wood (timber) in the garden Wood has many uses in the garden, including fencing, compost bins, support structures, bed edging and garden furniture. In an organic garden it is important to consider the source of the wood, to minimise the need for wood preservatives, and to use the least damaging preservative treatments if essential. The degree of protection that wood requires differs with the type of wood, and the situation it is being used in. Rotting is most likely in situations where the wood is in contact with both moisture and air, such as at the base of fence posts. Where timber is being used for structural purposes, such as decking, then safety takes precedence and it would be wise to use pre-treated wood. If wood is used for bed edging, or a compost box, it can be left untreated; it can last for years without any preservatives. Best organic practice – the first choice Coppice products, from your own garden or allotment – for plant support structures, bed edging, furniture and other appropriate uses Choose species of wood more resistant to rotting. Species vary considerably in durability Accept that the wood will rot eventually, and replace it as necessary Acceptable organic practice Coppice products bought in from sustainable sources, preferably local – for plant support structures, bed edging, furniture and other appropriate uses New timber from sustainable sources, with an accredited mark to prove it. Look for accreditation, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or the Soil Association (SA) woodmark. UK or European produced timber is preferable Second-hand/reclaimed timber, though it can be difficult to know if it has been treated with preservatives Organically grown timber – only used for furniture at present Railway sleepers, not treated with creosote or other preservative treatment Builders scaffolding boards. Usually untreated, but always check before purchase Linseed oil wood treatment 34 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  35. 35. Wood (timber) in the garden Acceptable, but not for regular use Synthetic ‘wood’ alternatives, made from recycled materials such as plastics Never acceptable in an organic garden Wood from unsustainable forests, particularly from tropical regions Wood treated with creosote, including old railway sleepers New and ‘second hand’ wood treated with Copper Chrome Arsenic pressure treatment There are no approved wood preservative treatments for use in an organic garden, but for health and safety issues, there may be times when use of preservative treated wood is essential. For more information see our ‘Using wood in the garden’ factsheet. FS Garden Organic factsheets FS Using wood in the garden www.gardenorganic.org.uk 35
  36. 36. Energy use in the garden Energy use – in manufacture, processing, packaging, transportation, and final use – has been taken into account in every sector of these guidelines. The aim is, of course, to cut it to a minimum. But it makes sense to ‘think energy’ in all gardening activities including garden design and storage of garden produce. Your garden might also be used to harvest ‘green’ energy. Best organic practice – the first choice Build soil fertility by growing nitrogen fixing plants Buy second hand, or sturdy, long lasting tools and recycle and repair tools were possible Use manual, rather than powered, tools e.g. push lawnmower, shears, lawn rake Use solar energy for lighting garden paths and sheds, running water pumps, and greenhouse ventilation Use non-electric automatic vents to ventilate a greenhouse. Use wood from the garden for stakes and supports, or firewood Use a lean-to green greenhouse where the back wall will store solar heat. Water filled tanks and bottles also store heat Grow seasonally to reduce requirement for heating Insulate greenhouses Use manure based hot beds to provide low level heat for raising seedlings Use cold storage, clamps or other traditional preserving methods Acceptable organic practice Heated bench for additional greenhouse heating Use fleece to protect plants in greenhouse or cold frame from frost When store garden produce in a fridge or freezer, use A++ appliances, set to the minimum temperature necessary Where engine or lubricant oils are needed, use plant-based oils (bio-diesel, bio-lubricant) as they are fully biodegradable Use the garden to harvest energy, such as ground source heating systems or solar hot water panels mounted on a pergola or a garden shed 36 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  37. 37. Energy use in the garden Acceptable, but not for regular use Petrol and electricity driven tools until they can be replaced by alternatives Gas, electricity and other fuels from non-renewable sources to heat greenhouses, where essential and with care to minimise losses Never acceptable in an organic garden Inefficient and wasteful use of fossil fuel derived energy Fossil fuel fired patio heaters R Spence www.gardenorganic.org.uk 37
  38. 38. To find out more These guidelines cover every aspect of gardening organically, but they are not a gardening manual. Garden Organic also offers practical gardening advice, tips and training from the following sources: Garden Organic website: monthly updates on what to do in the garden, factsheets, growing advice, news, books, and more. www.gardenorganic.org.uk Garden Organic e-news: a monthly round-up of the best seasonal gardening advice, updates on our charitable work, plus offers, products, prizes and more. Sign up through our website or phone the number below. Gardening advice service: free email, phone and letter advice to Garden Organic members. Gardens to visit: you can see organic gardening in action at Garden Organics, Ryton Garden and, in partnership with English Heritage, at Audley End organic kitchen garden. Training courses: Garden Organic runs a range of courses throughout the year at our Warwickshire headquarters. Visit our website or call us for listings of all of our courses. You can also take the City & Guilds Level 2 Certificate in Organic Gardening, devised by Garden Organic in association with NPTC at a number of colleges across the UK. The course is aimed at amateur gardeners who would like to gain the knowledge and skills for growing vegetables organically. This is an introductory course suitable for those new to vegetable growing. Contact Garden Organic for a list of colleges running this course. Books and booklets: view the list on our website, or send for a list of our publications. The Organic Gardening Catalogue: the one-stop shop for all your organic gardening needs, including seeds, composts, books and other sundries. www.organiccatalogue.com 0845 130 1304. 38 Tel: 024 7630 3517 • enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk
  39. 39. About Garden Organic Garden Organic is the national charity dedicated to researching and promoting sustainable growing, and has been at the forefront of organic horticulture for over 50 years. We are an influential, dynamic and committed organisation and believe passionately in an organic approach to a sustainable future for people and the planet. We actively engage with a variety of individuals and groups as part of our work, including over 6000 UK schools, inspiring and educating all generations on the benefits of organic growing. Help support a sustainable future – Join Garden Organic Our members are vital in supporting our work, enabling us to continue to research, demonstrate and promote sustainable growing methods. Members are kept up to date about our work, and provided with organic gardening hints and tips, through our magazine “The Organic Way” (the UK’s only dedicated organic gardening magazine), as well as receiving discounts on all purchases from The Organic Gardening Catalogue, and free access to our gardens and library of organic factsheets. To find out more, or to become a member of Garden Organic, please call 02476 308 210, or visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk/join.php Make a donation As a charity Garden Organic relies on donations from like-minded individuals who kindly support our work both in the UK and around the globe. If you can afford to make any donation, no matter how small or large, please call 02476 308 210, or go to www.gardenorganic.org.uk/donate Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens, Coventry, CV8 3LG 024 7630 3517 • www.gardenorganic.org.uk
  40. 40. Garden Organic is the UK’s leading organic growing charity, and is dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food. We are driven by an enduring passion and belief, founded on over 50 years of research and practice, that organic methods provide a healthy, sustainable life for us all. Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 3LG Tel: 024 7630 3517 Fax: 024 7663 9229 Email: enquiry@gardenorganic.org.uk www.gardenorganic.org.uk Registered charity no 298104. Garden Organic is the working name of the Henry Doubleday Research Association.

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