Gardening Under Glass (or Plastic)

A greenhouse or polytunnel is a godsend to organic gardeners everywhere. Gardening Under Glass (or Plastic) means a longer growing season and a wider possible range of crops that you can grow.

Cost is of course a huge factor, so think carefully before ordering a deluxe super duper glass palace. On the other hand, a small plastic minigreenhouse such as those they sell in most garden centres will probably soon be feeling like a waste of money when you realise you have outgrown it.

In the UK tomatoes and grapes are partucularly good for growing organically in the greenhouse. We grow comfrey outside to provide us with an organic free plant food (well a ‘tea’ to be precise, and although the plants love it, I wouldn’t want to drink a cuppa myself).

Help the bees by planting the food they love

Bees are the best pollenators there are, and are directly responsible for the pollenation of about 30% of the human food supply. So if we want lots of fruit and veg, big flowers and altogether nicer gardens we should do things to attract the bees. Obviously, not using pesticides is a given. Even if a particular substance doesn’t seem harmful to us, bees are so small that the effects are proportinately so much larger on them.

So dumping the chemicals is a great start, but to really get them working your garden, invite the bees in by planting flowers they particularly like. Make life easy by planting large swathes of their favourites together.

what flowers do bees like?

Here is a bee friendly list of flowers.

  • Borage
  • thyme
  • mint
  • Lavender
  • Asters
  • daisies
  • foxgloves
  • snapdragons
  • penstemons
  • heathers
  • Crab applie
  • fennel
  • angelica
  • sedums
  • cow parsley

Keeping a tidy allottment

Allotment holders have the advantages of neighbours who are keen gardeners. However, that does add a bit of pressure regarding keeping the place looking ship shape.

However, by edging your plots you can easily keep your allotment looking spick and span.

Standard wooden palettes are 4 foot in length, which is the perfect width for a veg plot, so head down to your local garden centre and ask if they have free palettes. Take one away and break it down into its constituents. Now take them to the alootment and make a simple box 4ft by 8ft and just one plank width high.

The box is made by nailing the planks to wooden corner blocks (either salvaged from the palette or from scrap 4×4 posts.

Two straight rows of these plot boxes with a central aisle and 2 foot of space between each will give you a neat plot. The advantage is that it will be easy to keep the grass under control and weeding will also be easier as you will never step directly on your plots so the earth will not get compacted.

The garden in Winter

Your organic garden will be practically dormant over the winter months. With frost on the ground and chilly winds the sensible plant life tucks in under ground and stays well hidden till the warmth of spring. For most of the time we leave our gardens alone, but there are a few tasks that will make next year more productive.

Firstly, mulching as much as possible will supress weed growth and add nutrients to the soil

Winter pruning of fruit trees will help ensure bumper crops of accessable fruit next season. Apples and vines respond well to pre christmas pruning. If you leave vines until the deepest depths of winter you may find the shock of pruning damages them.

Tidy up, but not too much. A clean garden gives fewer places for beneficial insects to overwinter, so don’t clear away every last leaf.