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The 30 Day Challenge – Day 12

Today I am grateful for the fact that my garden has taught me to be environmentally aware. I never used to worry much about the planet or what I was potentially doing to it until I started gardening. The garden has taught me to care about what I put out into the world and what I take from it. I’ve stopped using any chemical pesticides preferring to let nature take its course and if I really need to use anything to get rid of pests I use organic methods. I compost, I use water sparingly, I only use organic fertilisers and natural pest control and I’m coming around to recycling things …

Lavender Dentata

Photo: Lavender dentata – I have Lavender growing around one side of our swimming pool. I love the smell of Lavender and the way it grows with its lovely upright lavender flowers … whats not to like?

Lavandula dentata is a species of lavender, the main species known by the English common name French lavender. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is commonly grown as an ornamental plant and its essential oil is used in perfumes. This aromatic shrub grows up to nearly a meter in height. The gray-green, linear or lance-shaped leaves have toothed edges and a lightly woolly texture.

About the 30 Day Challenge

Cat of The Whimsical Gardener, has invited Garden Bloggers the world over to join her in the 30 day challenge of posting a photograph and sentiment that you are thankful for – every day for 30 days. Find something you are thankful for every day, for 30 days, can’t be too difficult, can it? See all Barbie’s and my posts filed under “30 Day Challenge“.

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MyGardenSchool Organic Gardening course

For the past 4 weeks I have been taking part in The Organic Garden course by My Garden School. What a wonderful course it was and how the lecturer, Stephanie Donaldson made everything clear and concise and that organic gardening does not need a masters degree but a clear and practical mind to know how to work with mother Earth.

I really enjoyed logging in every Saturday morning and downloading that weeks lecture. Stephanie’s lesson is a comfortable 20 minutes and the assignments are fun to do. They are current and practical and relevant to your own garden. You just want to jump into the garden and get things done!

I have become more aware of the impact I make on this Earth and my gardening practises and output will be more thoughtful and will benefit my family. By the end of this year I will be eating healthy vegetables, fruits and herbs from my garden. Organically grown with no chemical pesticides and using only what I can obtain locally – eventually planting my own seeds in the future.

I have learnt about the benefits of all the organic material in my back yard. How to make compost and how important the soil is. Here are the 4 weeks that have kept me busy.

Week 1 – The Philosophy of Organic Gardening

Week 1 Assignment

Week 2 – The Basic Techniques of Organic Gardening

Week 2 Assignment

Week 3 – Pest and Disease Control in the Organic Garden


Week 4 – The Virtuous Circle


If you are interested in doing any of the online courses,  MyGardenSchool is your unique online horticultural classroom. They bring you gardening courses taught by the world’s most acclaimed authors.  You can now learn about gardening directly from the experts,  from the comfort of your own home, wherever you are in the world. You have one-to-one personal contact with your tutor, through your virtual classroom.

Join if you are interested in doing a four week online gardening course. Book now for August 6th!

Have fun and happy organic gardening!

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Organic layers

Now that I have flexed my muscles on building a raised garden bed on my own, I have my work cut out for me to fill it with really good soil. I have been doing my research on sheet mulching or sheet composting. The main concept being composting in place. Its a way of eradicating weeds and building soil without using herbicides or tilling, of which both rupture soil ecology. I have found this in the e-book I’m reading – Gaia’s Garden: a guide to home-scale permaculture by Toby Hemenway – which has now become my bible! Sheet mulching is a variation on nature’s way of building soil by accumulating and breaking down organic debris from the top down! I thought this to be a practical and common-sense way of creating compost! So I have the perfect area to try this method.

I have created an uber-large area to fill, so I’m hoping I have enough material to do it! I believe that it gobbles up organic matter! Gulp!

I started with the soil I was standing on – leave grass and weeds and anything that is growing there in place. Any knee-high grass can be mowed down and left there.  Then lay down a deep stack of newspaper (minus any glossy sections) or corrugated box cardboard. This is to smother the weeds and prevent their seeds germinating. Now add soil amendments, i.e. lime, bonemeal, (depending on your soil’s needs), then add a thin layer of manure, then a 2.5cm layer of newspaper, then another thin layer of manure or nitrogen rich material, then a bulky layer (30cm) of organic matter like straw, finely ground bark, wood shavings with grass clippings. The Carbon/Nitrogen ration must be between 100:1 and 30:1 – if it is too high in nitrogen then it causes anaerobic decomposition and makes it smelly and slimy! Eeeuw! Don’t want that!

To finish, add 5cm of compost/manure and top it off with straw, pine needles, sawdust or leaves or other seedless mulch. If you can’t find every item, don’t worry – sheet mulching is very forgiving. As long as you have enough newspaper or cardboard and organic matter of anykind, you’ll have good soil!

[one_half]First layer of newspaper now my compost[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Garden clippings and kitchen waste collections[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Starting to look like Lasagne![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Next layer to go go![/one_half_last]

[one_half]I always have happy helpers![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Bring on the local manure![/one_half_last]

Finding local manure was easy. My neighbour has 7 horses….Adding the horse manure was not as terrible as I had thought. I was expecting it to be a really smelly job, but on the contrary. The manure was rich and sweet smelling – what, you don’t believe me?

I’m nearly done. I am looking for the top layer ingredient. I wanted to get straw today but the farms around here don’t have any! Oh, darn! I’m going to have to do search for some!

Have fun – I am! Now we wait! I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

[one_half]Well-rotted manure is actually sweet smelling![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Adding the manure – nearly done![/one_half_last]

Happy Gardening xxx

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Fertilizers or Compost?

Swiss chardA mistake which people often make is to assume that if they use artificial fertilizers, they do not need to use compost or any other organic matter. IF you have to use artificial fertilizers they must always be used in conjuction with compost otherwise the soil will deteriorate in its organic content with a resulting poor structure.  Bulky manures and organic products will steadily improve the quality of the soil so that fewer artificial fertilizers need to be used. Good quality food crops can be successfully produced without  any artificial fertilizers and this is the basis for organic gardening.