‘Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardeners Year, The A Seasonal Guide to Growing What You Eat’ by Graham Clarke
Yesterdays Gardeners Question Time on radio 4 featured many questions on this subject. The main advice that appealed to me was to concentrate on growing more fruit. (We all more likely to take the advice we want to hear.)
Gardeners Tips on Organic Fruit Growing
Organics should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animals and humans as one.
Organic growing is based on ecological systems and cycles that are worked with and sustained.
Organic gardening should be done in a precautionary manner to protect the health and well being of current and future generations.
Organics promotes the concept of fairness with regard to common environment and life opportunities.
Chemical fertility is the availability in the soil of all the elements, nutrients, ions, traces and inorganic chemicals that plants need to grow.
Biological fertility includes micro organisms that help nutrient recycling’ including fungi, bacteria and protozoa that clean up bacteria. It also covers macro organisms such as arthropods that break down organic matter in the early stages of decomposition, worms that help drainage and aeration and nematodes that help in various ways but occasionally act as pests.
Physical fertility is the mix of sand, silt and clay that makes up the soil and determines texture, ability to hold water and sustain life.
An integrated weed management system aims to create a tolerable level of weed infestation that at the same time delivers tangible benefits like pest control and biodiversity. Weeds can be controlled by cultural management such as rotation, mulches, and green manures. Direct control involves hand weeding, digging or flame weeding. Biological control is a last resort.
Bees and pollinating insects need to be encouraged as do a a wide range of predators and crop-pest parasites. Beetle banks and wildflower areas are useful in this regard.
Protecting the Crops
Crop yields can increase significantly with appropriate protection. Raspberries and strawberries for example do better under polytunnels. Horticultural fleece warms up the soil helping to make nitrogen available and can bring cropping forward. A fruit cage protects from birds and wind damage whilst some crops do better in a greenhouse environment.
Pests & Disease Management
Disease from virus, bacteria or fungus or attack by pests like slugs, snails, insects, birds and mice are the bain of organic culture. Prevention is better than cure so start and stay clean and tidy, favour resistant varieties, encourage good hedge and weed plants and discourage those plants that are likely to harbour problems that can be passed on.
Walk the plot regularly and sort out hot spots physically by removal or traps. Consider biological controls, bio-pesticides or bio-stimulants. Chemically soft soap and water is permitted in most organic systems as are pyrethrum, sulphur and vegetable oil products.
The Organic Gardener’s Year is an indispensable guide to everything, you, the aspiring organic gardener needs to know – season by season. Whether you’re planting on a narrow windowsill, in a small patio, an allotment or a large garden, you can dip in to this easy-to-navigate reference and discover facts, tips and inspiration to help you grow the most popular produce – the organic way. Whether you are a novice or experienced gardener, Graham Clarke, a respected expert and writer in the field, has the answer to your questions. By simply following the clear symbols and colour codes, you’ll easily find the solutions tailor-made to your needs. Key sections give invaluable up-to-date advice on how best to manage pests and disease without using abrasive or toxic substances; while step-by-step instructions take you through the basics of sowing and growing through to harvesting your own succulent organic crops, as well as the organic way to care for trees, shrubs and garden plants too. Click here to buy the book by by Graham Clarke on Amazon
Another excellent tome on this subject is Organic Fruit Production and Viticulture by Stella Cubitson. It would be very useful for the allotment or small holder interested in fruit growing.