Bronwyn Slater looks at 2 DVDs in the ‘Growing Green’ series by the Vegan Organic Network
This is a very good 32 minute video presented by Graham Cole, head gardener at Holywell Gardens in Hampshire. Stock free organic methods are used to grow all the produce there. Stock free organic differs from mainstream organic growing primarily in terms of the fertilisers that are used. No fish, bone meal or animal manures are used. Instead, green manures such as trefoil and clovers are preferred, as are compost, tree bark, decomposing wood, hedge trimmings and municipal green waste. Animal inputs are taken completely out of the equation. This avoids the problem of pollution, and self sufficiency is achieved by growing and creating the plant fertilisers on-site. These methods have been shown to work for both commercial growers as well as small domestic gardens.
Cole talks us through his crop rotation system. There is a 4 year rotation period, with a different type of crop planted in the same soil each year. This helps to keep the soil rich in nutrients and prevents depletion. The sequence is as follows:
Year 1: Potatoes .
Year 2: Legumes (peas, mange tout, broad beans, runner beans).
Year 3: Brassicas (brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cabbages). Problems with pigeons and cabbage white butterflies can be prevented by using fleece.
Year 4: Root Vegetables (carrot, beetroot, onions, leek, celeriac).
Biodiversity is also important and has benefits for the plants. Certain types of wildlife, birds and insects are instrumental in controlling pests, and they can be encouraged on to the property by planting particular crops. Weeds can be removed with a hoe or by digging them up. Use of mulches can also prevent weeds from growing. To start plants off Cole recommends growing them under glass in greenhouses or cold frames. These can also be used to extend the growing season.
For fruit growing Cole recommends the ‘Autumn Bliss’ variety of raspberry which produces fruit from August onwards. Walls and fences can be utilised to good effect when growing fruit. Exotic fruits and outdoor tomatoes do well on South facing walls. Pears and apples can be grown on East and West facing walls, and cherries, currants and raspberries can be grown on North facing walls.
This is an enjoyable and educational video, and is worth a watch especially if you are a beginner. The DVD was produced by the Vegan Organic Network and you can purchase it here, or watch it here on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lajzjz6Njw
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