I pride myself on being an organic gardener... But what is an organic gardener and how can you make changes to the way you garden to being a little more mindful of the environment?
A basic definition of organic gardening is gardening without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. But there is much more to organic gardening than just replacing the slug pellets with pellets derived from natural sources - it's a philosophy, it's about changing the way we garden to support the whole system.
The first step to organic gardening, and the first step towards a beautiful thriving garden, is compost. If you haven't done so already then start a compost pile in the corner of your garden, add all the organic matter you can, this is leaf cuttings, grass clippings, green kitchen waste, wood, cardboard, paper ... the list goes on.
A compost bin is a good start and you can get one small enough to fit into any garden. The next step is start to introduce plants which are great for wildlife and will attract bees, hoverflies and butterflies. Try to avoid heavily ruffled cultivars of flowers as they often restrict access to pollinating insects.
Then there is water ... it is really unpleasant watering your plants knowing that is costing you money when the stuff falls out of the sky for sometimes days on end ... So save it, fit water butts to your downpipes,. stick out buckets and pans or the kids' old paddling pool (out of sight I might add).
As organic gardeners the challenge comes when we get hit by the usual suspects - slugs and snails and the rest of the annoying gang. Then it's more about changing your mind-set ... you're never going to wipe out the entire slug population. I use beers traps and go out every night with a torch picking off the slugs as best I can.
You can also introduce frogs and toads into your garden - they will happily lick them up all night long. Chickens are also great for mass pest control, scratching around all day pecking up endless slimed enemies.
Just a few simple steps can start you on your way to your own diverse microclimate and to me that is exciting - that is gardening!