A to Z of Organic Gardening

Here’s the low down on the green stuff



Aerobic: aprocess that requires the presence of oxygen.

Anaerobic: a process that does not require free oxygen, or a condition in which free oxygen is excluded.

Annual: a plant that completes its life cycle in a year.

Anther: pollen bearing structure supported by a filament, which together form the stamen of a flower

Asexual reproduction: non-sexual reproduction, such as grafting, cuttings and tubers


Biennial: a plant that completes its life cycle in two years.

Biodiversity: Variabilty within living organisms and their environments

Blanching: covering a plant to prevent sunlight from turning leaves and stalks green

Bolting: development of seed stalks

Brassicas: group of plants which includes Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Turnip, Rapeseed, Mustard and Brussels Sprouts


Clones: plants produced from a genetically identical parent by asexual propagation

Compost: a process speed up the natural decomposition of dead organic matter. Kitchen and garden waste is piled high and left, except for the occassional aeration or watering where it turns into nutrient rich soils ideal for promoting healthy plant growth.

Companion planting: the grouping of plants for their mutual benefit (more on this)


Deadheading: Removing the flower heads from plants such as roses once they wilt to encourage further flower growth


Earthworms: We love the little darlings. They turn compost into beautiful soil.


Fertilizers: Additions to the soild to help a plant grow. Be careful because many fertilisers are not organic in nature


Germination: When a seed starts to grow it is said to germinate. The requirements for successful germination are: viable seeds, clean soil, moisture, warmth and (depending on seed variety) either complete darkness or lots of light.


Harvesting: Picking your organic crop once it has grown is the best thing in the whole world.


Insects: Most are a gardeners friend and need to be encouraged. Some are pests and are best discouraged. This is where we need to resist the urge to use chemical – based  solutions. Not because chemicals are in themselves bad things, but because spraying is the equivalent of carpet bombing. Much better to perform the equivalent of surgical strikes.


Leaf Mould:  Decomposed leaves are a great soil conditioner and help the ground to absorb water more easily.


Mulch: The secret to great soil is a good annual mulching


Netting: Nets over your crops helps stop birds from getting to them. Do make sure that the holes in the nets are big enough to prevent birds from getting trapped.


Organic: Doesn’t have any legal definition, but most agree it refers trying to do stuff with recourse to materials synthesized in the lab.


Pond: The quickest route to enhancing your garden’s biodiversity is to install a wildlife pond.


Raised Beds: Poorly draining soil or  a garden that is prone to flooding both benefit from raised beds. It is less stress on the gardeners back too.


Scarification:  Remove the thatch of moss and old grass from your lawn to help water and sunlight get down to the soil.


Trowel:  An essential tool for planting, potting up and general pottering.


Underplanting: Growing smaller plants under larger shrubs or trees  helps utilize space and provides shelter for  more sensitive plants from high winds, rain and snow.


Vegetables:  Get out there and grow your own. There are hundreds of varieties of vegetables to choose from.


Water Butts: Collecting rainwater for the garden is better for the environment in general and better for your garden plants in particular. A water butt attached to a downspout from the roof is all you need.


Zucchini: I remember when they used to be called courgettes.

Industrial Bread

The supermarket loaf is a very different thing from the loaves our parents or grandparents used to buy.  Supermarkets us the Chorleywood process which was invented in 1961.

There are huge differences between the industrial process and traditional baking and few of them seem to benefit the consumer. They are all about speeding up the proceesing of the loaves.

Here is how Chorleywood bread differs from a traditional bakers loaf.

Firstly the flour is milled at a much higher temperature and pressure than normal to break the starch molecules up. This lowers the nutritional content of the resulting loaf.

Secondly they use much more salt which we know is bad for us

Thirdly the chorleywood loaf needs twice the regular level of yeast, and this has been linked to the dramatic rise in yeast intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and thrush (Candida albicans).

Chorleywood bread uses hard fats. These used to be saturated fats but we now know about that danger so we have switched to fractionated fats, about which we know little.

Then finally in the industrial loaf there is the ascorbic acid and emulsifiers E471 and E472.

This all leads to a loaf with a much higher water content, so although it might seem cheaper, in reality you are paying extra for water.

So, this is why I decided to always buy from a proper local baker or bake my own bread

Organic Glossary of Terms

Antioxidants are chemicals found in foods that are believed to inhibit cell damage by slowing or stopping the process of oxidation.

Our bodies are good at converting Beta Carotene into vitamin A. As the name suggests a good source of Beta Carotene is the humble carrot.

A method of crop growing that takes influences from Organic principles as well as popular magic (lunar phases and spells etc)

As waste green matter decays (due to the actions of worms, bugs, bacteria and fungi) it turns into a form of soil rich in organic matter, nutrients and bacteria that are vital for growing next year’s plants. Almost all materials from organic sources can be composted and the compost heap is core to the success of an organic garden. If the heap is large enough, lots of heat is generated and material gets fully broken down in a matter of a few weeks. A smaller heap takes a few months, but in the end both will deliver richly fertile humus back to the gardener.


A garden with a wide range of plants is a better home for more species, creating a wider ecosystem which will be healthier than a garden with fewer species.


Worms are one of the most important living beings in the garden but we rarely see them. They are essential to composting and airating the soil. If you have lots of worms it is indicative of a healthy soil.