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What are the benefits to growing organically?

Is gardening organically worth the effort? Jean Vernon explores.

close up of organically grown courgette plant

Gardening is on-trend! That’s quite a revelation to those of us branded as weirdo’s and tree huggers when we admitted to enjoying gardening and growing plants as we grew up.

If I calculate that I started dabbling in plants from about the age of five, that means I’ve been gardening since, OMG, a very long time. But I have learned so much over that time, sometimes by my mistakes, partly from informed friends and family, but also from observing every possible aspect of the subject and experimenting. I like pushing the boundaries, I dislike rules and I love growing plants.

My gardening journey really took a major detour once I understood the vital role that nature plays in the process. Our gardens sit within nature, sometimes they are very removed from the countryside in an urban or suburban setting, and at other times they sit right within the natural landscape. We tap into nature when we feed the birds, plant for pollinators and even just breathe the fresh air outside (or nature bathe). But we don’t always see the complex and entangled web of life that exists around us.

Everything has a place and a reason for its presence. Nature doesn’t recognise the boundaries we have tattooed on the earth. Birds and wildlife travel far and wide across the local landscape, pausing when fences and walls block their route.

Ladybird eating aphids
Ladybirds will devour bothersome aphids. Image: Jean Vernon

Finding a way to garden with nature, that is kinder to the environment and completely in tune with the natural world became incredibly important for so many reasons.

Growing organically

Growing my plants without artificial chemicals, toxic pesticides and in harmony with nature is really important to me. Every action in the garden, even ‘weeding’ has its consequences. Many of our garden ‘weeds’ are larval food plants for precious pollinators or for other insects that are food for the birds. So drenching them in chemicals that kills insects is counterintuitive to me. Live and let live and you start to reap the benefits. Watch the way the wildlife, large and small interacts. So the ladybirds and hoverflies that devour the aphids, the birds that eat the slugs and snails and everything in between. 

Health benefits

By keeping my garden natural, feeding the soil instead of the plants, improving the natural balance, my garden is healthier. The plants that I grow are healthier. And I truly believe the edibles I grow to eat and that feed the wildlife, including bees and other pollinators, is healthier and better for me too. They certainly taste amazing. One of my favourite crops is basil, which I eat raw, mash into fresh pesto and garnish anything and everything made in the kitchen. When I want the best flavour and the healthiest ingredients I am confident that growing organically is the only way.

organically grown basil
Organically grown basil. Image: Jean Vernon

Peat Free and healthy

I grow my plants in peat free compost. Currently I am trialing Dalefoot Compost which is made from potash rich bracken, sheep wool and added comfrey, and also Richard Jackson Peat Free Compost which is a mix of four different peat substitutes fortified with Root Booster and Seaweed extract. My plants get a healthy, natural start and the rich natural materials in the compost, feeds them gently. Then when I want to boost them, I feed with Flower Power Organic Liquid Plant Food. It’s the only extra dressing that my plants get before I eat them!


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