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A stitch in time

A stitch in time

Regular action in the organic garden is the key to success says JENNIFER STACKHOUSE.

Some gardeners use the excuse of being ‘organic’ to explain away their lack of action in the garden. ‘I don’t like to use sprays’ or ‘I let nature take its course’ are explanations proffered when we stand looking at a plant that’s dead, dying or patently feeling a bit peaky.

Although there are times when an organic gardener deliberately takes no action – for example when a predator is available to clean up a pest outbreak – more often it is a prompt and active response that’s needed. Being willing to jump in fast usually means the difference between a harvest and a failure. Many organic remedies require good timing, elbow grease and perseverance for them to be effective. And the plants we grow benefit from our regular attention to weeding, watering, feeding and generally keeping an eye on how they are faring.

Many years ago my mother, Shirley Stackhouse, to whom I owe my lifelong interest in all things gardening, wrote a book called the Five-Minute Vegetable Gardener (now out of print). The book was all about the benefits of spending little bits of time in your garden to know your plants and respond to their needs. Take your morning tea or coffee outside she suggested while you inspect your plants, picking off the odd dead flower or leaf, or hunting down caterpillars. It’s advice I’ve always followed, even if that quick spot of gardening does spin out to quite a long five minutes while the coffee gets cold!