Getting a good range of different plants in the veg patch (including veg, herbs, fruit and flowers) and sticking to organic principles is such a good way to grow. It will help you to keep pests at bay by encouraging helpful wildlife into the garden and give your crops a chance to really flourish with better soil quality.
Imagine the following: Your garden is buzzing with bees and butterflies who are busily pollinating your courgettes, beans and peas giving you a bigger crop. Birds land regularly to feast on caterpillars before too many holes appear in your cabbages. At dusk, a hedgehog pops out to hunt slugs, leaving your lettuces and leaves untouched. Ladybirds flit around and eat up any aphids that they find before they damage your tomatoes. And on a lovely sunny day rather than worrying about weeds you harvest some truly delicious, juicy crops and feel ever so pleased with yourself. It sounds like allotment heaven, doesn’t it?!
Well, it’s easy enough to achieve by planting up lots of variety and keeping things natural. These are our top 5 tips:
- Plant lots of flowers in and around the garden – edible flowers, companion plants, herbs (particularly lavender) all work wonders at attracting bees and butterflies. You can plant marigolds in amongst rows of veg, and other flowers in the borders or in pots. Planting a patch of nasturtiums nearby will really minimise caterpillar damage to your brassicas as the butterflies will lay their eggs on nasturtiums rather than on your cabbages.
- Keep it organic – Slug pellets can harm hedgehogs, pesticide sprays can diminish food supplies for ladybirds and lacewings. Much better to keep it natural and organic.
- Feed the birds – if there’s a good spot for a bird feeder nearby then you’ll encourage lots of birdlife which has so many benefits.
- Make your own compost – fallen leaves, kitchen peelings, old plants and other compostable materials can be added to your compost heap to use in the garden later. It’s a great source of nutrients for the soil, will help with soil consistency and it cuts down on your own waste too.
- Mulch – mulching is such a great way to suppress weeds, replenish nutrients and lock in moisture so that your plants can really flourish. Leaf mould, wood chips and compost are all suitable mulches.