How to be an organic gardener

Slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails? Simon Lacey, a professional gardener from Debden in Essex, reveals his secrets

"Organic gardening is low maintenance, because by choosing the right plants for the location, planting them in beneficial combinations and mulching, you are setting the garden up to manage itself.

You need to think holistically.

If you get greenfly on the roses, which option would you go for: mechanical removal of greenfly at first sign – a long-term solution which keeps numbers down and encourages predators – or a spray?

Organic gardening is about being able to tolerate the situation until you get the balance right.

When you put down mulch, it can be a home for slugs and snails, but at the same time you get an increase in spiders and ground beetles.

After a few years, the spiders and ground beetles are feeding on the slugs and you have them under control, but you have to resist reaching for the chemicals!

The alternative is very high maintenance.

To save money, plant crops that are expensive to buy in the supermarket, rather than the cheaper, readily available crops.

Go for crops that are easy to grow, like rocket and asparagus.

Save on the cost of a greenhouse by growing plants that are sown directly into the ground.

If your neighbour is planting French beans, you could plant runner beans and swap the surplus – and watch your gardening community flourish.

If this has got you inspired, why not join the growing movement to Eat Better? We'll keep you topped up with great tips. 

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This is an extract from Save cash & save the planet.

For a good selection of organic gardening links, see A Lot of Organics.