Australian Farmer Supports UK Organic Allotment Methods
GARDENERS GO GREEN IN LOCKDOWN
AN ORGANIC GARDENING business near Stroud is seeing a huge rise in sales, as green fingered growers look for eco-friendly ways to manage their gardens during lockdown.
Gardening Naturally is a small, family-run business based near Aston Down, who specialise in organic solutions that allow gardeners to grow fruit and vegetables without the use of pesticides.
One of their top-selling products this season are nematodes – microscopic worms that eat garden pests without harming other wildlife
For gardeners who want to ditch the chemicals but keep their vegetable patch looking vibrant, these little creatures really are the way to go.
The 2mm-long worms aren’t visible to the naked eye, but they work their way into common pests and kill them in a humane way, without the need of pesticides.
They come in packets of 10 million, which will cover the size of an average back garden and can be applied using a watering can or sprayer.
Julie Brandreth, director of Gardening Naturally, said: “During the current lockdown, business is booming. We’re seeing lots of people taking up gardening for the first time, as well as experienced practitioners who may have more time to try out something new.
“What we’re also noticing is that more people are looking for environmentally-friendly ways to create their perfect outdoor space, without the use of pesticides or harmful, toxic chemicals.
“For the organic grower, nematodes really are an amazing biological weapon and a great way to get rid of those creepy-crawlies who like to nibble your crops. They’re super easy to use and can be delivered by us straight to your door.”
Unlike chemical sprays that may drift off target, these little worms make sure that other wildlife is not affected and will help get rid of bugs and slugs without harming in anything else in the process.
Julie added: “We are one of the UK’s biggest distributors of nematodes and are pleased that so many green-fingered growers across the Cotswolds are ditching chemical pesticides for kinder, organic gardening treatments. We’ve seen a surge in sales this year, which is a trend that looks set to continue throughout the summer.”
The nematodes arrive in a sachet which should be mixed with water, then applied with a watering can or hose attachment to a soil that has been well watered. It normally takes between 3 and 7 days to see results, with the maximum effect occurring over 2 to 4 weeks. And because the nematodes disintegrate the pests from the inside out, you won’t see dead insect bodies as you would with a chemical knockdown.
Julie added: “People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family-friendly hobby – but they want to do that in a way that’s kind to the environment. That’s why we’re providing customers with all the tools they need, including netting, traps and barriers which ensure they’ll be eating their fruit and veggies, and not the insect pests!”
“We are blessed with a wonderful temperate climate here in the Cotswolds, and with people spending more time at home than ever before, this is the perfect opportunity for local people to re-connect with their gardens and create a beautiful outside space.”
Gardening Naturally is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and customers can order via the online shop at www.gardening-naturally.com
Products are available for home delivery or can be collected from the site in Stroud.
Based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, Gardening-Naturally were established back in 2003 and are able to demonstrate niche knowledge in a full range of products and beneficial treatment which won’t harm our planet.
This week’s blog comes all the way down under in Australia where it’s pleasing to discover the commercial farming methods have may strong similarities to allotment owners and people who use their gardens as a sustainable way of growing fruit and vegetables.
Arable Farming – To begin there are 3 things you need to do before starting to grow a healthy organic crop. Number 1 is to get a soil test conducted on your garden to see if the soil has adequate levels of nutrients to be able to reach optimum yield.
Gardening Naturally sell 3 different types of soil testing kits:
- Test your soil for PH before you grow with this mini pack
- Soil Test kit for 4 reagents pH, N, P and K
- Soil and water test kit for pH
These tests can tell if organic fertiliser (with or without natural Urea) should be added to the soil to provide more nutrients to the crop. soil testing can also be used to see if there are any inconsistencies below the top soil such as lack of water and parasitic insects.
Organic Fertiliser for Optimal Soil Nutrients
The second thing needed is fertiliser, in our business we have used many types of localised manure ranging from chicken, pig and cow manure, which is able to hold a lot of moisture and nutrients allowing the roots of the plants to absorb it all.
The last thing needed to start a healthy organic crop is seed. With almost unlimited types of seed at your disposal it is always a good choice to pick a plant that is able to strive in the surrounding environment and weather.
At the time of writing this blog in July/August here in the UK we see the following products rise in popularity:
- Paper potato sacks – buy from 1 to 100
- Hessian potato sacks – Buy from 1 to 500 in 25 or 50kg
- Garden netting and vegetable mesh – A huge range is always in stock
- Fruit harveting and vegetable picking tools – New stock for 2020
Fallow Years and Crop Rotatation
Australian weather is hot and dry with little to moderate rainfall, so crops like Forage Sorghum, Cow Peas or Alfalfa are a reliable option as they can endure harsh environmental changes such as flooding or drought. Checking to see if your land has had previous crops planted is also an important part because it is vital to let the soil rest for a year or more to ensure it builds up nutrients due to the previous crop absorbing most of it.
Fertlising your garden the natural organic way
Before fertilising the garden it is worthwhile to rip up the garden and turn the soil over as this will ensure the manure and rainfall to easily make its way deeper into the soil. Once the garden has been ripped it is time to spread a thin layer of plant food and nutrients across the garden using whatever method suits you best.
Soil Moisture Levels – Water Liberally
Once the fertiliser has been spread it is custom to wait until it rains for large scale operation – of course here in the UK we would use a watering can, sprinkler or hose – before planting the seeds so the water can wash the fertiliser deeper into the ground.
Most farmers uses a seed planter which has built in metal heads, which dig slightly into the top soil across the garden to allow the seed enough depth to grow. Pulled behind the seeder are smaller arrowheads that push the soil back over the seed in order to cover it and allow it to germinate.
Growing fruit and vegetables – irrigation is important
After completing the seeding stage all there is left to do is wait however many months it takes for the crop to grow which varies on the type of plant.
In serious drought weather many growers have their own irrigation system set up around the garden which may be connected to a large barrel filled with rain water. This allows home farmers to restore their slowly dying crops that suffer from these droughts and can be used anytime they want.
Did you know? Farmers often grow fish or crustaceans in their dam due to the excess excrement and fish scales providing a lot of nutrients to the crop and soil giving it an even bigger advantage to yield a bigger crop.
Reaping what you sow – the organic way
Stage 4 is the final stage in the farming endeavour as once the crop has reached its full potential, its time to harvest the seeds or cut it down for hay. To make this process much easier and to prevent any breakdowns make sure to remove any large stones in the garden to ensure it doesn’t damage any of the expensive equipment. The process of harvesting the seeds is simple as the rotor on the front of the harvester easily pulls the seeds from the stalk and empties the content into a silo used to store and dry out the seed.
This seed can be used for a variety of things depending on the plant such as cow feed, food ingredients or even sold to farmers to plant their own crop. The leftover stubble from the harvest can also be used for hay bales or can be left in the garden to provide wind cover or nutrients if the crop decides to re-grow. Hay Baling is also another great way and is used mainly on plants that don’t flower or plants that are just about to start flowering. The process of hay baling is a lot more complicated due to it being more steps but it is also very rewarding.
Disposal of garden waste and stalks
In Australia, once the crop has reached its potential a large Mower Conditioner (Big Lawnmower) is used to cut down the stalks at their base, which the stalks then feed through 2 rollers crushing the plant then feeding out the plant and back onto the ground. The reason for crushing the stalks is for the plant to easily dry out and become crunchy to bale.
Once the top of the rows are dry a rake is used to flip the rows over to allow underneath to dry, this process can take anywhere from 2 or more weeks. After the hay has dried out completely the hay baling process can begin. A big machine is used to scoop up the hay off the ground and feed it into a chamber where it compacts the hay together into either a square or round bale.
Once the hay has been compacted either net or string is used to tie the bales together and are pushed out the back of the machine and dropped onto the ground to be picked up and loaded onto trucks to be sold.
Organic pest control allotments and gardens
No matter where you live in the world, small scale and large scale crop farming and vegetable growing have their similarities despite the difference in capacity between a gardener in their home yard or for allotment owners and fruit farmers.
If you have any questions about any of our products, do give us a call on 01285 760505 or ask a question via our Contact Form.