Category Archives: Organic food gardening

The title says it all – organic food gardening = growing your own food using organic methods.

Organic growing is the only way forward

“Even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more chemically-intensive and corporate-dominated farming methods such as GMOs and monoculture-based crops, the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system.
(The Huffington Post)

That was the key point of a new publication from the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) titled “Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late”,” which included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world.”

It has been a long time coming but now the UN are saying that organic growing is the ONLY way forward. Commercial growing in the UK is dominated and controlled by the agrochemical industry. it is not sustainable and threatens food security. We simply cannot continue to rely on farming methods that are dependent on large chemical inputs.

Soil
The biggest asset we have is soil yet 50+ years on chemical fertilizers has left a depleted soil virtually devoid of organic matter so prone to erosion. See this 2006 report on UK soil erosion.

An alternative food supply
In a time of climate emergency, we need to be aware of the perilous state of our food supply. Supermarkets work on the “just in time” supply principle. They usually have 2-3 days of stock in the local supply chain. We import around 30% of our food from the rest of Europe.  Any disruption to that through weather or politics will see the shelves empty within 24 hours as people panic.

We desperately need to separate ourselves from the supermarket food supply chain and grow food in any available space. It can be done, 25 years of organic growing often in very small spaces has proven that to me. We just need to get on and do it!

 

 

Buy organic food to curb insect collapse

An article in The Guardian says that buying organic food is a way to save the insect population. I am so pleased to see that in print but excuse me, organic growers have known that the many years.  In the past the press has ridiculed the ‘all muck and magic’ brigade and depicted us as happy idiots who do not know the benefit of modern insecticides. Now we are on the brink of a precipice it seems organic growing really does have something to offer.

The first thing to do is ban TV advertising of pesticides and herbicides. Then start a programme to turn the whole country over to organic growing. It will not be easy as the soil on agrochemical farms is in very poor condition, but it can be done.

Is that hoots of laugher I hear in the background? Are farmers and growers shouting we will all starve? Well think on mate, without insects to do the vital pollination of plants we will starve. So, you choose, change the way we grow food to more sustainable, environmentally friendly methods or stick with the conventional chemical soaked stuff that feeds the profits of the agrochemical companies. I know what I would do!

Insect decline catastrophe

There was an alarming article in The Guardian yesterday, scientists are saying that the rapid decline in insect numbers is a catastrophe and evidence that the sixth mass extinction has started.

Since the late 1940s agriculture has become dependent on the use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers. The widespread use of various ‘sprays’ to keep crops ‘clean’ is seen as the only alternative to starvation. The agrochemical industry has become a big business dominated by very few companies. In short there are huge amounts of profit in killing anything that crawls or flies near a crop.

There has also been a corresponding increase in the use of pesticides in domestic gardens. That can be even worse for insect life as the density and variety of flowering plants is much higher. Anything that crawls or grows in the wrong place is zapped with adverts on TV telling us how to keep our gardens ‘beautiful’.

But insects are far more than an inconvenient pest. Without them we are in big trouble as they are major pollinators of flowers that become our food. Insects are part of the food chain that sustains us, without them we starve.

What can we do? First stop using pesticides in your garden. Second, lobby governments, farming organisation and growers to stop using pesticides. Most of all buy only organic food! If you grow your own, then switch to organic growing methods.

Food security

The one good thing that has come out of the Brexit mess is the talk about food security. It has been ignored for many years. Around 10 years ago I spoke to Prof. Tim Lang about the subject. Nothing much has changed, we rely on a small number of supermarket brands for the majority of our food and if anything the supply chain is more precarious now.

Yet again we have let this happen, we have given the supermarkets the power to control what we eat. Farmers are virtually enslaved by the supply chain and they take all the risks.

The effects of climate change on the food supply are already being felt. It is time for the UK to think about where food comes from and take steps to ensure we have enough. That means not taking prime agricultural land for vanity projects like HS2 and making changes to planning laws to enure that brown field sites are used first.

And we need a new ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign!

This what Prof Tim Land about food security said 10 years ago.

Growing food in 2019

The beginning of 2019 brings many uncertainties; BREXIT, will it be the chaos of a ‘no deal’ or a smooth transition. Will we see threats to our food supply from climate change?

Whichever way you look at it there has never been a better time to start growing at least some of your own food. So what is stopping you? Many will say they do not have the time or that they have very little garden or none at all. Or that they do know how to start.

First, I want to say that growing food is not that difficult. There is an old saying that seeds are programmed to grow. There are also a lot of myths around and even some bad advice.

As for lack of time and space I want to show you some easy ways to get started that use little of either. And if you do not have a garden there are always containers. As a very well gardener once said to me, “there is nothing that cannot be container grown!”

Over the coming months I will add instalments about choosing what to grow, how to grow it and where to start. Over the last 30 years I have grown fruit and veg in a small town house garden, a large veg plot and in containers on a patio. I have written about growing in magazines in the US, UK and Australia. Pioneered Square Foot Gardening in the UK and developed a form square metre bed gardening. I have also taught compost making and other subjects and have run this site, for over 20 years.

Please check back soon to see the first instalment about choosing seeds.

Growing your own food

Growing you own food means you cease to be a consumer and are not part of the long supply chain dominated by large agrochemical companies and supermarkets. It also helps to ensure your food supply, saves you money and reduces waste. You do not need to think of total self-sufficiency, just a small food garden will help.

There are many reasons for growing your own including having fresh food on the doorstep. You will also drastically reduce the plastic waste from food packaging and reduce your food miles.

If you are new to food gardening, there is help here and you can ask questions if you get stuck. There are also lots of books around, more on that later.

9 Hispi cabbages in a square metre bed. (We no longer use recycled plastic edging board – used scaffold planks are a better alternative.)

Use raised beds just a square metre if you do not have much space. See this page to see how easy it can be. You can get around 9kg of food from each square metre bed with very little effort. We are planning a new square metre bed garden and will keep you updated step-by-step.

Remember, keep it organic – no artificial pesticides and no chemical fertilisers. That way you will have a healthy and productive garden that does not rely on the chemical industry and one that will be better for your health.