It is well known among organic growers that all learning in agriculture must begin with the observation of nature and an in-depth study of what is meant by the “law of unity” (togetherness law). Cocannouer (1950) suggests that our success or failure with ecological gardens depends greatly on our knowledge of this law and how we adhere to it. In nature, there are many relationships between plants, soil and animals, even the singing of birds which create a balance for all living beings in the biosphere. If you are having problems with your garden, check the elements that make the whole.
- Soil: Soil is the product of an ecosystem. The structure and function of the soil food chain has been considered as the first indicator of the health of an ecosystem. Healthy soil is a blend of organic and inorganic materials. A rich variety of plants, animals, and decaying organic matter help make the soil a rich, ever-changing system. The secret to all successful gardens is soil. If your plants are not growing well it usually is a sign that your soil needs a nutrient boost or the drainage isn’t very good (clay content). Most vegetables, herbs and flowers need soil rich in nutrients. This can be added by organic matter, worm castings, nitrogen-fixing bacteria and beneficial fungi. Plants also need soil that is well aerated. Following posts will dig deeper into the subject of soil.
- Watering too much or too little can be a problem. Most vegetables and herbs don’t like to be drenched or left dry for too long. The general rule is moist soil. I tend to water my garden every morning or late in the afternoon. You don’t want to water your garden in the middle of the day because the sun reflects on the water droplets and then burns your plants. However, if you live in a place where it is very hot then your plants might benefit from getting watered in the morning and then again, late in the afternoon and always use mulch! After a big rainfall, it is best not to walk on your garden soil, as you will compact it with your weight. That’s why I like raised beds, especially with a toddler 😉
- Sunlight: Most vegetables and herbs need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. It is always helpful to look at the back of the seed packaging to have an idea of how much sunlight each plants needs. A common error is that people place sun-loving plants in shady areas and the plants start growing spindly, stretching to the sun. So figure out how much sun your plants need and they will respond beautifully. And remember to plant vegetables, fruits and herbs in their correct season.
- Natural fertiliser: Many cultures believe that “what you give out is what you get back”. This is true with soil. The more you put into your garden soil, the more you will get out. In natural forests, birds, animals, insects and leaf litter all offer nutrients for the surrounding trees and plants. A garden may have difficultly with nutrient-return process if we don’t have other elements supplying them these nutrients. So I like to boost my plants with a bit of ‘worm juice’, compost and other bio-fertilisers. This is especially for plants in pots, pallets or containers, as they need regular fertilising. Try creating Duck weed for your compost or natural fertiliser. There are other recipes for natural fertiliser here.
- Companion Planting is about planting mutually beneficial plants together. By combining plants that require different nutrients and have different growth lengths you create a garden where plants are not competing and therefore are beneficial for each other providing ‘pest’ control and soil improvement.
Permie Hint: Check the location of your garden. Create a garden that is close enough to your house so you to feel the pull to get your hands dirty. Some people get inspired to go gardening even if it means going for a drive into the Community gardens whereas others need to be able to see their garden constantly to be enticed into it. I like my garden close to my kitchen to save time, energy and bring green into my life 🙂
Author: Laila Helena