Produce provided by Mother Nature
The 1st March heralds the start of Autumn, a time of rest for mother earth. In Autumn gardeners are busy preparing their patch for winter edibles – so there’s no better time than now to start an organic garden.
And there are better reasons than the time of year to do so. Many people are now realizing the benefits of how our forefathers gardened – citing quality. Organic produce is fresh and high in nutritional value. Some studies have shown that organics have up to thirty percent more anti-oxidants and significantly more Vitamin B and C than non-organic food. Anti-Oxidants, Vitamin B and C are renowned for their anti-cancer properties. Higher traces of beta-carotene, which boosts our immune system and can prevent lung cancer have also been found as well as higher incidences of essential minerals such as selenium, calcium and magnesium.
Strong anecdotal evidence also suggest organics can ease, if not eradicate, allergies and respiratory problems especially in young children and of course organic produce wins the taste test every time.
Organic gardening endeavours to limit the number of diseases and pests, improve the quality of the soil, without using manmade chemicals to achieve this. Sadly, prior to the 1990’s we could wash or peel store bought food to remove sprayed on pesticides, today we cannot – pesticides are in the food. No amount of washing or peeling removes them.
In a home garden several plants are planted together to keep disease away or increase production a practise termed ‘companion planting’. To improve the soil, crops are rotated each year and natural products such as vegetable peelings, leaves and grass clippings are watered regularly and left to compost for three months. Fertility is an organic gardener’s catch cry.
Today many of us would even be hard pressed to identify in which season a plant fruited or cropped. Only seasonal produce is used by organic advocates to limit our carbon footprint, whilst working with the rhythms of Mother Nature.
If you have inferior soil it is wise to put your garden to rest over Autumn. Dig a ten centimetre layer of organic compost through your plot before planting a short-term cover crop such as lupins or mustard. Rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, when they flower in late winter/early spring they will need to be dug through the soil.
If planting now the following vegetables are ideal. Companion plants either herbs or vegetables are detailed in italics.
Brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, pak choy, bok choy) Beans, beetroot, chard, celery, onion, garlic, peas, cucumber, potato AND nasturtium, coriander, dill, french marigold, lovage and marjoram
Silverbeet Onions, beetroot AND lavender
Leeks Onion, carrot, celery, apple trees AND parsley
Spinach Peas, beans, strawberries
Lettuce and salad greens Carrots, cucurbits, radish, onion, strawberries AND chervil, marjoram, french marigold, lovage
Planting poppies and nasturtiums between plants will also minimize aphids and remember not to plant in rows – it serves to confuse bad pests. Happy gardening!