How To Go Organic
Gardeners World|January 2018
How To Go Organic

Want to ditch the chemicals but don’t know how? No-dig pioneer Charles Dowding shares his secrets to vibrant veg the organic way

Charles Dowding

The health of humans, plants and soil are all interlinked. And I believe that if your aim is to boost your own health, then you have to start by improving the health of the soil you are growing in. I grew up on a farm and have been growing organically since 1982, after becoming concerned about the impact of pesticides. Organic growing gets you thinking about how nature works. Instead of relying on synthetic inputs to increase growth, which can lead to imbalances that need correcting with other inputs, you work closely with natural cycles. By applying surface mulches of compost or other organic matter, you feed soil life and improve the soil's structure and nutrient supply giving your plants a healthy place to grow.

The end result is that growing becomes easier and problems reduce.Here, I'll share what I've learn't from 35 years of growing organically, to help you grow vibrant, tasty organic veg.

How do you get started?

I took on my current garden in January 2013 when it was just weedy pasture, and was able to start growing veg just a few months later – without the use of a single weedkiller. Below are three tips to get rid of weeds and boost soil fertility, ready for growing veg, without digging or chemicals.

1 For areas with few weeds

Pull up any larger weeds and spread a 5-7cm layer of compost. Alternatively, pull up or hoe every weed, then spread a 3-5cm layer of compost. You can start sowing and planting as soon as the weather is warm enough for your chosen crop.

2 For areas of moderate weed growth

Lay thick cardboard over the weeds, then an 8-15cm layer of organic matter (such as half decomposed manure or compost) with finer compost on top. You can start sowing and planting. Pull up any weeds that grow through from below, until the parent roots die.

3 For dense weed growth and persistent weeds, such as couch grass

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January 2018