Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Organic growing

Growing organically is so much more than not using herbicides and pesticides. I have about 1000sq metres of garden, of which about half is for herbs and vegetables and the rest is ornamental. There is also a lawn, which is as small as possible. Over the years I converted most grassed areas into low maintainance areas filled with hardy perennials. My one rule for the entire garden is that no poison whatsoever is used anywhere. The two chickens have done an excellent job over the years getting rid of most pests. And because I have several ponds, frogs have helped with this job. Occasionally there is a plague of something like hairy caterpillars or flea beetle, but I just wait until it's over. I have been making some sprays using tinctures like tincture of Tagetes minuta (otherwise known as Khakibos) and combining various left over or expired tinctures for stubborn things like scale and sooty mould, with some success. One does need to be regular with treatment!! And I'm not always good at that. Somebody developed a glue that is non toxic, which I use as a barrier on the trunks of trees to stop the ants from travelling up and down and adding to the disease problem. This glue is available at hardware stores (in SA) and is called vastrap. It's really excellent.

We have very few commercially available organic traps and devices to prevent coddling moth etc here in SA. I have tried home made bait, but have yet to pick a perfect apple from my tree! The glue will probably help, but the challenge will be to be regular with the application, as it does wear off over time.
So for me it's a balance between allowing nature to sort things out, and trying various herbal remedies. My aim is to leave this patch of earth in a good state when I finally move on. And hope that the next owners would do the same. But that I think is a vain hope. Most people seem to spray every little weed. When I go for a walk and have to smell the toxic fumes from someone spraying, they get a dark look from me. I haven't got to the stage where I evangelise yet.........

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