Tips & Resources for Organic, Low Tox Gardening

In a previous article, I talked about gardening through winter; preparing the soil, planting vegetables and herbs. Once your little vege seeds or seedlings are in the ground there are things you can do to ensure they get the best chance of growing and thriving which in turn is a win for you. It’s also an awesome activity to do with your kids, teaching them how to grow their own food, learn about the eco system, learn about giving back to nature and being rewarded with their own fresh veges.

Adding compost and fertilising your soil will give your wee plants a great start to life. There are many fertilisers available in the garden centres. Have you thought about other types of fertilisers like; worm wees, seaweed, egg shells? There are lots of ways to ‘garden’ that does not cost you a lot of money, or there may be an initial outlay but it has rewards for you further down the track.

Worm Wees, also known as a Worm Farm! Whilst there is an initial outlay for purchasing the container and the worms themselves (yes they are special worms, not the ones already in your garden), they are a fantastic environmentally friendly way to use your waste food with the by-product of ‘wees’ as an awesome fertiliser for your garden.

Seaweed, can be used as a fertiliser, for disease prevention, pest control and as mulch (if you can get enough of it!) You can collect seaweed yourself, but please remember you cannot take it from marine reserves, Mātaitai reserves (fisheries managed by tangata whenua); or Taiāpure (coastal or estuary areas managed by tangata whenua) (source: www.thisnzlife.co.nz). Seaweed fertilisers can also be purchased from most garden centres.

Egg Shells, crushed up and put into your soil they add a whole bunch of nutrients to your soil – calcium carbonate, phosphorus, magnesium and traces of sodium, potassium, zinc, manganese, iron and copper! Eggshells also reduce soil acidity and depending on what you are growing, this may be helpful. You can also use half an eggshell as a ‘container’ for planting your seeds – give the shells a quick clean, fill them with soil, pop in your seeds and when they are ready to be transplanted into your garden, crack the shell around the roots and pop the whole kit and caboodle into the soil – shell and all. Crushed egg shells placed around your precious plant babies may also stop slugs – too ouchy for them to cross over the crunchy egg shell barrier.

Composting, is another great way to use up most of your food waste (not all – you shouldn’t put in meat or dairy products (as they can attract pests) or diseased plant matter). It takes time for the compost to do its thing, so it is an ongoing project but it is an excellent way to recycle both food and garden waste.

Pest and Weed Control. We have so many toxins in our environment already that managing pest and weed control in a more eco-friendly way in your garden seems like a good idea!! Companion planting is one of many ways of being kind in the garden environment, eg. nasturtiums can deter white butterfly caterpillars, marigolds can control pests and basil is a great companion plant for your tomatoes. If you prefer to spray, not all sprays are created equal either, so look into what’s in the ingredients and think about whether the spray is killing just the garden ‘baddies’ or is it harmful to the garden ‘goodies’ as well. Maybe check out non tox spray options as well.

Happy Gardening – I hope you get a lot of enjoyment, relaxation and nourishment out of your vege patch.