Grow your garden the organic way

The Great Green Team

11 July 2024

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/ Sustainable lifestyle

The wonderful thing about Garden Organic’s demonstration gardens is that they’re not a rarefied retreat for green-fingered types, they’re for absolutely everyone.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with a team from Garden Organic at their base in Coventry last week.

The charity promotes organic growing and composting to help everybody to garden using natural methods. As Dave from GO said to us, ‘We want to make organic gardening easy and attainable for anybody.’

The gardens are a treat for the senses with an abundance of colour and inspiration everywhere, not to mention the delicious earthy aroma of healthy soil.

It’s a place of quiet creativity and observation, with the volunteers who are so essential to the charity going about their activities peacefully in the background.

Dave checks in on the bugs in a composter observation panel

If you live in the area, we can guarantee you will be inspired by the guided tours and workshops and the tips you pick up from the experts.

 The gardens are also home to the Heritage Seed Library, which maintains the national collection of heritage vegetables and shares seeds with members.   

If a visit isn’t possible, check out GO’s website and their webinars, which feature useful Q&A sessions in the chat at the end so you can anonymously ask any questions that have been bugging you.

  You can also find out whether one of their 11 compost demonstration projects in the UK is near you. Don’t worry if there isn’t one yet; many more are in the pipeline.

Everyday gardeners

The charity began life in 1958 when Laurence D Hills founded the Henry Doubleday Research Association. He called on ‘everyday’ gardeners to take part in trials to build understanding of best organic growing practices. This form of research is termed ‘citizen science’ and plays an important role in modern research.

In the years that followed, the charity became known as Garden Organic and has continued to develop understanding about organic growing through research and practical application and sharing this knowledge with gardeners at home.

With 20,000 members, it’s a movement of citizens playing their part in supporting the nature on their doorstep.

Our team returned to our own doorsteps with more knowledge and inspiration for our own gardens, be it growing comfrey ‘Bocking 14’ to make natural compost activator, or succulents on a shed roof. And who wouldn’t want to create tunnels for hedgehogs and mini rainwater ponds for wildlife?

Everything you see there has a purpose in promoting life – be it soil, plant, animal or human. It’s also interesting and lovely to look at, which is a balm for the mind and soul.     

Growing comfrey Bocking 14

Compost activator is made by placing comfrey leaves in drainpipe sections and collecting the liquid that is produced

Rainwater runs off into a mini wildlife pond

A home-made wooden composter features a tunnel for hedgehogs

Succulents growing on a roof

A volunteer checks up on the chickpeas

Follow Garden Organic’s four main methods to build perfect soil

  • Add compost and other bulky organic materials – this not only adds nutrients but also helps create a good structure for plant roots to penetrate.
  • Minimise digging to avoid disturbing the complex soil life.
  • Plan your planting to make best use of the soil’s nutrients and to avoid build-up of pests and diseases.
  • Grow certain plants, such as green manures, which hold nutrients in the soil and can help suppress weeds. (Green manures are living mulches grown to benefit soil fertility and structure.)

A structure that creates a woody wonderland for wildlife

Pots of colour

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