Pragmatic Organic

We’ve been here over 12 years now. When we bought this place we really had no idea how much work a garden this size would be. We had 2 small kids, 1 teenager still at home and 1 rather demanding older child living elsewhere. Keith had a job that took him away a lot, although I was at home mostly, apart from some part-time studying. And we even had a narrow boat that we foolishly imagined we could go away on at the weekends.

Well the boat didn’t last long – we sold it within a year. And the gardening kinda took over. We didn’t really know what we were doing but we knew we wanted it to be organic, without really knowing what that meant. And for a few years we muddled through, growing vegetables badly and not pruning the orchard – there just never seemed to be enough time. Sometimes the garden looked good, but mostly it didn’t. Too many weeds. But we learnt slowly. I got a job at Garden Organic and started to learn lots more about organic growing and exactly what that meant. But the job took over and my garden still looked a mess. And, working where I did, I really didn’t feel I could reach for the weedkiller while advising the public how to cope without it. But there just weren’t enough hours in the day.

Anyway, times change. Now the little kids are teenagers. Keith still has a busy job, and I do too now – although not in horticulture anymore. In many ways, it’s a blessing not to be involved in the industry now. GO was a difficult place to work – lots of politics. And I have finally accepted that to get a garden this large looking how I want it to, I need a chemical helping hand.

I haven’t gone nuts, just accepted that I’m not superwoman. I can’t hand weed all the hard landscaped areas and keep on top of a large vege patch, a big orchard and do lots of propagating.  So, I bought some glyphosate and some Pathclear. So pleased I did. There are parts of this garden that were professionally landscaped in (we think) the 70s with lots of brick. This year, I weedkillered the grass on top of where I knew the bricks were – they haven’t been visible since about 2000. Here’s how they look now:











Maybe one day we’ll get back to being completely organic, but for now, this pragmatic organic approach is working well for us.

I still don’t use any artificial fertilisers – these are the worst chemicals, environmentally because they are manufactured using the Haber Bosch process which releases lots of carbon into the atmosphere and is a major contributor to global warming. As far as I’m aware, the manufacture of glyphosate doesn’t cause anything like the same levels of carbon to be released.  And I also don’t use artificial pesticides because my garden, luckily, seems pretty well ecologically balanced and the pests are controlled naturally. And if they aren’t, well, so be it – we won’t starve if the crop fails.

For more on what ‘organic’ actually means, and what is allowed and what isn’t, see Garden Organic’s home page – linky on the right.

Hopefully soon, I’ll get round to writing about what we’ve been doing in the garden. It’s been a busy spring and summer and there’s lots to tell.

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