Organic Gardening Fertilizer

If you have a garden at home, you may be growing your own vegetables because you are concerned about the freshness and also the safeness of the ones that you can get at your local store. It should not come as a surprise that chemicals are used on fruits and vegetables that you may not think are safe for your family. Some brands and types are safe because they do not soak into the produce, but you can not always count on that for sure. You can grow your own vegetables, but you may need help with growth. In that case, to stay safe, you can use organic gardening fertilizer. There are a few ways you can go about this.

There are some commercially made types of organic gardening fertilizer out there that you can try. You have to be your own health advocate in this case though, as the word ‘organic’ is not really regulated in any way. What one company may call organic is not what you would think of as safe for your family to ingest. Therefore, before you buy an organic fertilizer of this type, read the instructions for use and make a full list of the ingredients so you can check them out before you use them in your home garden. Be your own detective before you buy.

You certainly have the option of coming up with your own organic gardening fertilizer if you wish, or getting more simpler things that you can buy that may do the same job. Animal waste is one of the best fertilizers out there. This is why dairy farmers tend to spread cow manure on their own fields rather than disposing of it. Not only does this recycle the manure, it helps the crops that will be grown in the field to be fertilized cheaply, quickly, and safely. They have been doing it for hundreds of years and so can you.

You can buy this type of organic gardening fertilizer in many places, though your best sources may be local farmers who sell it. They may have it mixed with something like mulch that will also help you keep the weeds out of your organic garden. There are different animal waste types that each farmer may sell, but most should do the job. Just make sure you are handling it correctly. The last thing you want to do is to bring traces of it into your home. It is best used before anything shoots up and fruits. After that, you want to use something else. Always clean your home grown vegetables very well before eating, cooking, or canning them.

Some people find that they think organic gardening fertilizer does not work as well as some of the other types of fertilizers on the market, but that point is not to have the largest tomatoes on the block. The point is to have a safe source of vegetables that you feel good serving to your family. You may not get quite the yield, but the health benefits far outweigh having to
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Compost For Your Organic Garden

If you are one of the many gardeners who are into organic planting then one of the most important thing you will be needing in order for your plant to grow is to make a compost fertilizer right at your backyard or should I rather say right from your kitchen. Yep, those leftover from your dinner plate can turn into gold fertilizer for your plants to grow healthy.

Here’s what you need to make a good compost:

1. Organic materials – This can be the leftover you had on dinner, fruit and vegetable waste, leaves, woods etc.

2. Air – It is recommended that you place your compost in an open air.

3. Water – The amount of water in your compost should be enough to help the bacteria and other organisms break down the materials in your compost and turn them into fertilizers.

4. Gardening tools – Tools like rake, spade and fork would be useful.

Actually you do not need many things when making a compost fertilizer but how you do it makes it more important. There are so many things to keep in mind in order to turn your garbage into something worth consuming for your plants.

You should remember that not all garbage can be use to make a compost. Avoid putting in human waste, cat or dog waste, plastics, big piece of wood which does not only include trunks but as well as branches (you will need to trim or cut this into small pieces), metals. Also, keep in mind not to place too much water in your compost pit, it would be better if your compost is dry than overflowing with water. And you know what is the good thing about making compost? You can make use of your old newsprint.

You have to place it in a container with water and let it stay overnight then transfer it in your compost pit. If you want your compost to be more ‘healthy’ you can opt to use urine instead of water to provide he necessary hydration of your compost. It does not only contain acid which can help in breaking up the solid materials but the human urine is full of nitrogen as well as flushed out vitamins and minerals from our body which plants can still make use of. Now, you can use the urine ‘pure’ or you can mix it with water and pour it straight to the compost.

Grow Your Own Organic Food Now

More and more research is now revealing the health benefits of organic food. For example, children on organic diets have been shown to have significantly lower exposure to nerve poison pesticides. An organic diet provides immediate protection for children against harmful chemicals.

If this isn’t reason enough to start growing your own organic food – what is? When we consider that we can produce enough vegetables to sustain a family right from our own backyard at almost no cost and with very little effort there’s really no excuse for putting it off until tomorrow.

Organic growing guide

There’s no time like the present, so read this organic growing guide and get started NOW!

If you have an existing garden you can easily begin by improving your soil, buying a load of good quality commercial garden soil or starting a no dig garden. But before you do, work out the size of your garden bed.

If you start with a small area, let’s say 2m x 2m (6ft x 6ft approx) you’ll be able to grow enough leafy greens for two people. Adding another bed this size will allow you to grow enough to feed a family.

Before you start, check that you have met these requirements:

Your plants are positioned where they will get at least six hours of sunlight daily
You can get to your plants quickly and easily when it’s time to harvest
Your compost, tools, water supply and fertilizers are easily accessible

Another good option is to make a path along the middle of your bed so that you can reach any small weeds as they appear. A simple tug at the right time will save you a lot of weeding later if you let them take hold.

Square plots can be set up on lawn or if you prefer in a straight line along a fence. If you choose the fence position, make sure you take account of where the shade will fall. Plants deprived of sunlight will not produce the best crops.

If you have only limited space available try gardening in pots instead. There’s one big advantage when gardening in containers – you can move them around according to the weather. If your porch is too hot at certain times of the year, move your pots to where the sun is less punishing. If the harsh winter brings frosts, move your Brassicas to a more congenial spot.

5 steps to better soil

If you have soil, whatever its condition, consider yourself extremely lucky.

‘But it’s never produced anything! My soil’s completely dead.’

No problem. Your soil can be improved very quickly. Here’s how to do it:

Water the ground a day before you start.
Get rid of any weeds.
Cover the area with compost, manure, lawn clippings, and organic fertilizer and then dig this in.
Cover the whole lot with mulch to make sure it stays moist.
After a week or so scrape away the mulch, add more of the compost and manure and then put the mulch cover back.

You should then repeat this process until you have about 30cm (12 inches)of  rich and crumbly soil ready for planting.

If your soil is okay to start with, use the technique above to make it even richer. Begin by removing any weeds, then spread your organic material over the surface. Here’s where you need to do a little hard work – break up any clumps of soil and dig down about a spade depth. You can now plant your seedlings.

Gardening in a trench

If all of the above sounds too hard, or if your site is not suitable, try improving little pockets of soil with the ‘trench composting’ method. You simply need to dig a hole, or a longer trench, fill it with green waste material and let nature turn this small area into a usable piece of ground.

The Bokashi composting system works on just this principle. Bokashi is a product made using a combination of sawdust and bran that has been infused with Effective Micro-organisms (EM). Bokashi buckets can fit easily under the kitchen sink. Add the EM and watch your scraps quickly ferment.

Buying seedlings

Organic seedlings are not generally available from commercial suppliers, so try farmers’ markets, organic farms and local organic growing groups first. Seedlings are usually quite expensive so try growing from seed. This takes longer but is probably the most satisfying way to start your organic garden.

I’m committed to promoting organic gardening and home food production as a way of life. Visit my website to get more information on organic gardening, or get my free mini-course and learn more about simple solutions to growing your own organic food.

Understanding Organic Farming Pesticides

Organic farming has come on in leaps in bounds over the last couple of years. In previous years a whole range of toxins and chemicals were used to get rid of unwanted pests and to preserve the crops and people didn’t know what harm it was causing to them as well as to the environment.

Since organic pesticides have been introduced there has been a vast improvement in all vegetables and fruits. Farmers are happy to go this route even though it is more expensive, but a homemade organic pesticide can also be made and work just as well. There are many advantages besides the health factor. For one, it produces a larger variety of vegetable or fruit. There are more nutrients, preventing people with allergies from reacting as they were with the chemicals that were added before.

When shopping for organic products make sure the USDA label is present on the package. This means that it is 100% organic and only organic pesticides have been used. Shopping for organic vegetables can become quite pricey. This is because of the extra effort and expense incurred by the agricultural industry. One way to get around this is to do your shopping at a farmer’s market. If you are interested in vegetable gardening it may be an idea to start an organic vegetable garden yourself using organic pesticides for vegetables and maybe also companion planting. Some people get together in a community at a local farm. To do this you would buy a few shares and it is also a great experience.

Using organic pesticides

Controlling Pests in your Organic Garden

One of the main concerns of gardeners considering switching to organics is, “How do I control the pests?” The aim of organic gardening is not to eradicate pests, but to make sure your garden’s ecosystem is in balance so plants continue to thrive.

One vital tool in the organic gardener’s toolbox is companion planting. This is where gardeners plant different plants together as they either deter pests by acting as a natural insect repellent, or encourage vigorous growth in the companion plant.

Companion planting works for both herbs and flowers, and if you plant a variety of flowers in amongst your vegetables you will not only have an attractive vegetable garden, but a productive one as well.

There are hundreds of planting combinations however common companion plants include marigolds, garlic and onion. Well known combinations include tomatoes and basil, and parsley and roses.

Soap as a pesticide
Making your own pesticide sprays is easy and cost effective. One of the most versatile sprays can be made with common liquid dish soap, a little fixing oil from your garden center, and water. You simply spray this over your plants and then rinse.

Soap spray is effective in combating common garden pests such as aphids, thrips and spider mites. Make sure when you spray that you also reach the underside of the leaves, the stems and the flowers of your plants. But make sure you only use a few drops of soap per bottle as too much soap can damage your plants.

 Picking off the bugs
One of the best ways of removing the bugs from your organic garden is simply to pick them off before they have a chance to establish. It is best to look for insects when they are most active, which is early morning or dusk. Simply wander around your garden and squash any small bugs you see, such as aphids. Caterpillars, snails and slugs can be removed to other areas of the garden or, if you want to remove them from your garden entirely, then you can drown them in some soapy water.
But remember that there are also beneficial bugs in the garden that you want to keep and encourage, so make sure you don’t remove these by mistake!

Manual Barriers
You can protect your plants from larger insects such as snails and slugs by using physical barriers around your plants. Household items such as crushed shell, coffee grounds or wood ash sprinkled in a continuous ring around your plants will protect them. However make sure there are no gaps.

Other simple remedies such as a saucer of sugar water or half an orange will attract the insects and keep them away from your plants. Replace your organic traps every day or so.

Encouraging helper bugs
Not all insects are bad for your garden. In fact helper bugs are essential to ensure the health of your plants. Beneficial insects feast on the nasties that eat your plants, and should be encouraged as much as possible.

The main beneficial insects for your garden include ladybugs, lacewings and spiders. If you want to get started quickly then you can often buy ladybugs or lacewings through mail order, or from your garden centre.

Spiders (as long as you are not in an area with very unpleasant ones) can be encouraged into the garden through blocks of perennial planting and straw around the garden.

So there are a number of ways you can tackle the nasties in your garden without resorting to chemicals. They key is to be vigilant and keep on top of the problems before they get out of hand, and you have a thriving, healthy garden you and your family can enjoy.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.

Organic Home Gardening Getting Started with the Basics

Have you ever thought about gardening organically at home, but weren’t sure where to start?

Many gardeners would love to garden without all the chemicals and sprays, but worry that organic home gardening is difficult and time consuming. Not so! It can be a straightforward and easy way to garden. And it’s also cheaper as you no longer have all those chemicals and sprays to buy.

In this article we’ll look at the basics of organic gardening – they keys to getting a good foundation so your plants have the best possible chance of success. We’ll look at how to prepare your soil, and see how easy it actually is to understand and improve your soil from the outset. We’ll also have a quick look at the bugs in your garden, and how you can protect your plants from the bad ones, and encourage the good ones.

Organic gardening may require a little more time and understanding from you as a gardener, however the rewards and satisfaction are huge. Read on to find out the basics you need to know.

The main things to know about organic gardening:

Soil:
Your soil is the lifeblood of your plants, and time spent now (boring as it is!) will really help you later. Firstly, you need to understand what type of soil you have. Most soils fall along a continuum from sandy to clay, and all can be improved by digging in rich organic matter. It also helps to know the acidity of your soil and the easiest way to find out is using a pH testing kit from your local garden center. These are very simply to use and will let you know if your soil is acid, alkaline, or just right. Ideally you want your soil to be just slightly acid – between 6.0 and 7.0 pH is ideal – and there are a number of organic ways we can achieve this. If you need to improve the pH of your soil then your garden center is your best place to start, as they will understand the soil types in your region.

Once you start gardening then feeding your soil twice a year with organic fertilizers and compost will help keep your soil in great condition.

Plants:
If growing from seed then you can find a huge range of organic seeds available these days. It’s also best to try to find plants that are naturally disease resistant – they will often say so on the packet. Heritage seeds can be ideal, and also provide another point of interest in your garden. If you’re growing vegetables, then only plant vegetables that you will eat! This will help to keep you interested in your garden and reduce waste.

Finally, work out a crop rotation plan to help maintain the health of your soil. A 4 year rotation plan is ideal.

Pest Control:
Pests are a constant menace in the garden and tend to worry organic gardeners in particular. However there are a range of pest control methods available. These can include companion planting, manually removing the bugs – either from the plant or the planet, depending on how annoyed you are with them – and there are also a range of homemade organic sprays and teas which can be very effective. A simple spray of dishwashing detergent (only a few drops), water and neem oil is great for aphids, whitefly and other pests.

But remember that your garden needs the good insects such as ladybugs and hoverflies, so be careful when you spray.

Fertilizers and soil conditioning:
Homemade fertilizers and compost are a great way to feed your soil and also reduce your household waste – all your green waste can go into your compost bin and worm farm. Generally, depending on your climate, homemade compost will be ready to use after 3 to 4 months. It will smell sweet and be crumbly in your hand.

Fertilizers can also be animal-based if you have a local friendly farmer with a ready supply of the main ingredient, however if you are using animal manure make sure it is completely rotted and decomposed before you add to your garden.

Equipment:
The only other equipment you may want to consider when gardening organically is a compost bin or worm farm. You can buy these from your garden centre or make one yourself. Just ensure that your bins are easy to reach from the house on a clean path, otherwise you are less likely to add your green waste.

And now you’re ready to plant! I wish you happy, healthy and successful gardening.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.

Make your Own Organic Garden Fertilizer Easily and Cheaply

One of the keys to successful organic gardening is healthy soil. By feeding your soil with rich, homemade fertilizers before planting then you will be giving your plants the best chance of success, and encourage robust, vigorous growth. You will also be avoiding adding potentially dangerous chemicals to your soil, and saving money in the process! Organic garden fertilizer is easy to make and cheaper than commercial, chemical fertilizers as you can make it from waste you generate every day around your home.

Ideally you should feed your soil twice a year, particularly in areas where you grow vegetables or annual plants, which deplete the soil of nutrients more rapidly.

Animal based fertilizer

Animal based fertilizer can be made from animal manure that has been well rotted or decomposed. You can use horse, chicken, cow or sheep manure, and fertilizer made in this way will add structure and warmth to your soil.

Once the manure has rotted down and decomposed you can either dig directly into the soil, or use in a liquid form by pouring water through your fertilizer and collecting the runoff. However it’s important to ensure your fertilizer is well combined with the soil for a least 3 weeks prior to planting, to ensure it is well integrated.

Plant based fertilizer

Plant based fertilizers are probably easier to make than animal based fertilizers as they use produce and scraps from around the home. Plant based fertilizers include home made compost, worm fertilizers and green manure.

Worm fertilizers are easily made using commercial worm farms which you can buy from your local garden centre, or online. This can be a great project if you have children and the resulting fertilizer and worm ‘tea’ is very beneficial for your garden. Weight for weight, worm fertilizer is five times more nutrient rich than the surrounding soil, and it requires very little effort on your part. Feed your worm farm with green waste from your home, and you can also include damp newspaper and other organic matter.

Growing “green manure” is very beneficial for your soil if you have the patience to wait for it to grow. Green manure is a nitrogen fixing crop such as clover or lupin that you grow in your soil, then cut and dig in. The decomposing matter feeds the soil as it breaks down, and the roots help to improve the soil structure.

Making your own compost

Organic compost is easy to make, satisfying and cost effective, and is one of the best ways to feed your soil organically. Compost is the result of green waste which has decomposed. It improves the soil by returning nutrients, helping to retain water, and improving the structure of the soil. It also helps soil aeration and drainage, allowing the soil to ‘breathe’.

You can make compost in a commercially bought compost bin, or make your own bin from chicken wire or wood. (If using wood try to ensure it is untreated). Place your compost bin in a sheltered area, but not one that is shady or cool.

You can use a range of household green waste in your compost – vegetable scraps, egg shells, grass clippings and leaves are all ideal. It’s also hand to add straw or hay every so often to help improve the structure. Do not, however, include grease, bones or meat scraps in your soil as they can attract vermin.

Try to keep your compost pile no more than 3 feet high, and turn it every couple of weeks to ensure good ventilation. Depending on your climate, you should have compost ready to use between 1 to 6 months after you begin.

When is it ready?

A question I’m often asked is, how do you know when your compost is ready? Compost that is ready for use is crumbly, and a dark, rich brown or black in color. It has a distinct, sweet smell when you crumble it in your hands.

Which brings us to one final point about compost piles – they should not smell. If you compost pile smells then something is not in balance; you may have too much water or not enough air in your pile. This can generally be fixed by forking over and mixing your compost.

By making your own range of organic fertilizers at home you not only save money, you know exactly what is going into your soil, and therefore into your plants. And what can be more satilfying than that?

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.

Simple Steps to a GREAT Organic Vege Garden

Ever thought about gardening organically, but thought it was too hard? Growing vegetables organically is a healthy and satisfying way to garden, as can be cheaper than conventional gardening with chemicals and sprays.

The first step to building a successful organic vege garden is choosing the right location. Vegetables like shelter from the wind and full sun, and good drainage. It is also important to keep your garden close to a water supply, or within a hose-length. Planning out your garden on paper before you begin is also a good idea so you know what you want to plant, and where.

Preparing your soil:
The key to a successful organic garden is good soil. Ideally, it’s best to start with clean soil but if your soil is difficult or contaminated, then you can use raised vegetable beds to make sure your plants have the best start possible.

Most garden centers now sell a range of organic seeds, or you can buy seeds on line. There are also a number of heritage plants which are often disease resistant that you may want to consider.
To prepare the soil before planting, it is best to feed it with your home made fertilizers. If this will take too long then you can buy good, organic fertilizer in most garden shops. Add your fertilizer at least three weeks before planting to allow the fertilizer to fully break down and integrate into your soil.

Planting:
Most seed packets clearly show when to plant your seeds in the area in which you live, and how to care for your plants. It is best to follow these instructions to ensure a vigorous, thriving crop. If you plant your seeds outside their optimal growing period then they will either fail to germinate or bolt straight to seed, which is both disappointing and frustrating.

Irrigation:
Organic gardens need plenty of water as plants which are stressed through lack of water become vulnerable to disease. A thorough, soaking water every few days in summer should be sufficient to look after your plants, if you haven’t had rain. The water needs to penetrate the soil deeply to help the root structure develop deeply and vigorously. If you do not water the soil thoroughly the roots will reach for the moisture at the surface, creating weak, vulnerable plants.

Using organic mulch:
Organic mulch is an important aspect of gardening during summer as it helps protect the plants from water loss, and suppresses weeds. It also feeds your soil as it breaks down.

Hay, grass clippings and bark chips are all excellent mulches. It’s important however to make sure that if you use a permanent mulch like bark that your soil is not too damp in winter. This can cause your plants to rot and wither.

Pest Control:
While gardeners love the idea of growing organically, most worry about how to control pests. This is often a reason why many gardeners return to chemical controls for the garden. There are a range of organic pest control options that function well, including companion planting, home made organic pest sprays, manual maintenance and physical barriers.

These methods might require a little more effort from the gardener but they are tried and true, and cost effective to make.

If you follow the guidelines above you will be rewarded with flourishing, healthy and strong vegetables, free from chemicals and artificial sprays. And what could be better than that?

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.

Planning your Organic Garden Step by Step

Where to start when growing organics. Often we can be overwhelmed at the beginning of a project – there is simply so much to think about and consider. If starting from scratch, then you actually have a great opportunity to plan and lay out your garden in an attractive, logical way with plenty of room to consider the needs of wildlife, as well as the usual garden requirements such as pathways, seating and utility areas. They key is to be methodical as you consider the various elements of your garden, and what you want to achieve from each one.

Unfortunately, however, not many of us are starting from a greenfield site. So this article is intended to help you identify the main areas to consider in an organic garden, and how best to integrate them into your existing garden layout.

Kitchen Gardens:
Growing your own vegetables is not only healthy and satisfying, it has also become very popular. I would recommend, if you can, that you put some space aside in your garden to grow your own fruits and vegetables.

There are a number of ways to set about this. If you have decent soil, then you can add organic fertilizers and compost to condition the soil before planting. If your soil is fairly dismal, you suffer from impaired mobility or you just like to move things along more quickly, then raised beds may suit you better. A section of your garden in raised beds can look very attractive, remain tidy and be extremely productive year round.

There are a number of issues to consider, when choosing an area for your vegetables. Ideally you want an area sheltered from wind. Vegetables also need full sun for most of the day, and you will save your legs if you plant your vegetables close to a water source and within a hose-length.

Organic gardens are particularly reliant on wildlife and ‘good’ bugs, so including plants and flowers which are attractive to wildlife can be helpful. Bird baths or feeding stations are also worth considering, as they bring a range of birds into the garden.

Flower Beds:
Flowers are an important element in the organic garden. Not only do they encourage the ‘good’ bugs into the garden, they also act as decoys for the ‘bad’ bugs that can decimate fruits and vegetables. Flowers can (and should) be integrated into your organic kitchen garden, but most gardeners also enjoy a range of flowering plants throughout their garden, purely for their aesthetic value.

The key to growing flowers successfully in the organic garden is to choose plants that suit your soil and environment. In other words, local plants. Plants that are well adapted to the local conditions will grow more readily, be healthier and therefore more disease resistant.

If you are determined to grow flowers that are not naturally suited to your soil type, then raised beds are, once again, the way to go.

Utility Areas:
An organic garden has a few more requirements from its utility areas. A compost bin and worm farm are both helpful as they create useful organic fertilizer for your garden. They also help to cut down on the green waste from you home.

You are more likely to add your green waste to your compost bin and worm farm if they are easily reached, on pathways free from mud. However they are also not the most attractive of things, and you probably won’t want them to be easily visible. It is worth noting that a well maintained compost bin or worm farm should not smell. If there is an odor coming from your bins this is an indication that it is not in balance, and needs some attention.

Seating:
Organic gardens can be very attractive and you may wish to give some thought to your seating areas. A dining table in the middle of your kitchen garden can work very well, and is a great discussion point when you have guests. It is also handy to have somewhere to rest while you are working in your garden!

If you are lucky enough to have large trees in your garden, then seats, tables or chairs under the canopy are a very relaxing place to sit.

These are just a few of the basics you may want to consider when planning your garden. If you take some time at the beginning, even though this is not the most exciting part of gardening, to plan properly, it will make your garden a far more enjoyable place to be.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.

Simple Steps to Organic Rose Gardening Easily and Cheaply

Both organic gardening and roses have a reputation for being difficult. Add them together and many gardeners worry they’re taking on a gardening nightmare.

But growing roses in your organic garden needn’t be difficult. Roses are an old plant that grew long before there were chemicals and pesticides to use, and they managed to survive. There is no reason they cannot do so now. All it takes is a little knowledge, and attention.

As with all gardening, organic or otherwise, one of the main keys to success is a healthy, vibrant soil. Healthy soil is rich in nutrients, organic matter and life, generally. If you look at healthy soil you will see it teeming with worms, spiders and other insects – all a good sign. Although most gardeners tend to think that chemical fertilizers feed their soil, in fact they can kill off these insects and begin a downward spiral of soil degradation which leads to more fertilizer, poorer soil, and even more fertilizer.

Therefore before you even think of planting a bush, you first need to feed and improve your soil. (Boring and time-consuming, I know, but it really will make a difference.) Home made compost and organic matter is best for this, and can be easily made at home from your own green waste and grass clippings. It’s best to dig this into your soil at least 3 weeks prior to planting, to give the soil time to fully integrate the compost. It’s also good to understand where your soil falls on the clay-sandy continuum. Roses like free-draining conditions and if your soil is waterlogged your roses will suffer. If your soil is too clay then you can easily improve it by adding organic matter, as noted previously, and sand. This will break up the crumb structure of the soil allowing better aeration and drainage.

Finally, it’s a good idea to check the pH of your soil to understand whether it is acid or alkaline. The best growing conditions fall between a pH of 6.0 and 7.0, as most nutrients are available to the plants at this acidity. You can purchase a pH testing kit from most garden centers, or online.

Pest Control:
One of the main worries of organic gardeners is, how do I manage the pests? Roses in particular are especially vulnerable to aphids, scale and blackspot. This is where companion planting can be helpful, as both garlic and parsley can help deter predatory insects. Increasing the number of beneficial insects which feast on aphids can also be helpful. Ladybugs and lacewings are insects you want to encourage into your garden, and brightly colored flowers can be a good way to do this.

If all else fails there are a range of organic sprays you can make at home using simple ingredients such as dishwashing soap and garlic, that can help to protect your plants.

Growing roses organically is not difficult with a little knowledge, and is far cheaper without all those chemicals and sprays to buy.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.