If you are planning to use herbs in medicines, cosmetics, aromatherapy or food, it makes sense to ensure they are grown organically. In addition, when working with children or other vulnerable client groups there is an added incentive for choosing organic growing, removing any potential for exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
Projects with environmental or conservation goals will also wish to adhere to organic growing principles.
In other words, organic gardeners treat the garden as a complete ecosystem, and also as part of a much larger environment. They realise that the best results are achieved by working in harmony with nature not against her. Here are some key factors in effective organic growing:
The most important factor in producing healthy, tasty crops is to build up the fertility of the soil. Where chemical growers use a range of laboratory chemicals to feed the plants, organic growers feed the soil with organic matter – manure, compost and other organic material. These will not only feed the soil, they will also encourage worms and other micro-organisms.
The value of worms can’t be emphasised enough. Worms live on the organic matter in your garden; they process it for you by eating it and then providing worm casts to nourish the soil. At the same time they aerate and break up the soil as they tunnel around looking for food. So if you give them plenty of organic matter to eat you’ll have numerous worms and therefore productive soil.
Compost is invaluable to the organic grower. With a good compost, an organic gardener will not need any other fertiliser.
Any organic matter, material which was once living, will break down. The nutrients from the material are transferred to the compost and are thus recycled to use in nourishing other plants; so compost gives the grower a never-ending circular supply of all the nourishment the soil will need to grow strong and healthy vegetables. However, weed seeds and diseased plants should never be added to the compost pile.
Mulching is an excellent way of controlling weeds and clearing ground. It works because it deprives weeds of light. Without it they cannot grow.
Mulches are placed on the surface of the soil and vary from light excluding membranes to loose shredded prunings. To ensure success it is important to use the appropriate mulch for your particular situation.
Organic growers can give themselves a head start by using seeds from healthy, vigorous parent plants.
Many insects and other animals will eat garden pests. Creatures to encourage include: lady birds, insect-eating birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs. This can be achieve by, for instance, providing log piles and a small pond or wetland area, to create a home for these invaluable creatures.