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The natural vegetable garden

The natural vegetable garden meets certain rules and basic principles :

SOIL PREPARATION :

A clay soil should be worked in the autumn, while a light soil should be worked in the spring. The earth must be turned on the surface only so as not to upset the biological balance of the soil. Avoid leaving the land bare, it should be covered with a mulch or green fertilser, the rows between crops will also benefit from mulching.

A warm layer allows certain crops to germinate earlier. It can perhaps be prepared in February, and is composed of 40 to 60 cm of fresh horse manure. This should be covered with 10 cm of good garden soil, then 2 cm of sifted soil, all under an area orientated due south. Wait 15 days for sowing until the temperature of the layer falls below 25°C.

THE ENRICHMENT OF THE SOIL :

The compost should be used at a rate of 2 to 15 kg/m2 according to the richness of your soil, in autumn for a heavy soil and in spring for a light soil. The compost is an essential element for the natural garden. The heap should be situated in a place sheltered from cold winds and surrounded by 3 walls. My advice is to make at least two heaps, then you will always have one ready to be used. Its composition can perhaps be a base of straw, grass clippings and dead leaves (except those from fruit trees). It can be completed by garden waste, wilted flowers, vegetable peelings, wood ash, sawdust, bonemeal and garden soil. Brown algae can also be added if you live near the sea. The layers will be progessively raised, the heap should be shifted and turned from time to time to encourage its fermantation. Nettles not used for seeds can be used to water as a nettle suspension and will give all the mineral salts essential for the balance of your compost heap. When your heap is finished you can cover it for 3 months with a tarpaulin to shelter it before using. The compost improves the structure and fertility of your soil, it maintains microbial life by the ingestion of its elements which will be assimilated by the plants through the microscopic organisms and it encourages earthworms.

Wood ash should be used at a rate of 1kg/10m2. Be careful not to leave it on the surface but to incorporate it into the soil. The wood ash should only come from the fireplace, it is rich in potash, phosphorus and trace elements. Wood ash can also be added in small quantities to the compost to improve its structure. It is particularly suited to improve sandy soils.

Dried and composted manure should be incorporated at a rate of 2kg/10m2 in autumn on a heavy soil, springtime for a light soil. It has the form of irregular and odourless granules. It improves the structure and the fertility of the soil and maintains the microbial life.

Peat should be incorporated in autumn at a rate of 25 to 50 l/m2. It is also a quick and rapid solution for creating small flower beds. Peat lightens heavy soils and enriches the soil in humus but it doesn't contain any nutrients.

Sand should be incorporated in autumn at a rate of 10 l/m2. This operation can perhaps be eventually renewed. One uses coarse sand of 4mm diameter available from builders merchants. Sand improves the drainage of clay soils.

Basalt should be incorporated in autumn or in springtime at a rate of 2 to 3 kg for 10 m2. Basalt is the powder from finely crushed volcanic rock. It is rich in silica (improves the plants resistance) and trace elements. The basalt gives body to sandy soils and lightens heavy soils, it also neutralizes a too acid or a too alkaline pH.

Bentonite should be incorporated in autumn or in winter at a rate of 1 kg for 10 m2. Bentonite is a very fine clay powder which can absorb 20 times its volume in water. It gives body to sandy soils which improves the retention of water and fertilisers.

Lithothamme is incorporated in all seasons at a rate of 400 g for 10 m2the first year. Then 100 g is sufficient as maintenance for the following years. Lithothamme is a marine algae dried and crushed into powder. It can be used in the manufacture of a nettle suspension to provide nutrients and reduce odours. It is a limestone enrichment for acid soils, clearly preferable to lime. Its action is slow and prolonged, it contains more than 30 nutritive trace elements.

THE GARDENERS FRIENDS :

  • The mole eats its weight in insects, slugs, grey worms and larvae.
  • The hedgehog occupies itself with molluscs and caterpillars.
  • The bat is nourished by moths.
  • The toad appreciates slugs and larvae.
  • The ladybird attacks aphids, cochineals and whitefly.
  • The ground beetle ( carabus auratus) adores the Colorado beetle.
  • The wasp likes insects and caterpillars.
  • The birds are nourished by the various insects and larvae : The robin likes aphids; the blackbird, thrush, jay and magpie eat worms and molluscs; owls and hawk owls attack rodents and moles...

GARDEN PARASITES :

  • The gryllotalpa is a cricket particularly feared in the garden, its main predator is the mole. If you don't have moles then trap the crickets with a little turpentine in bowls placed at ground level..
  • Aphids suck the sap from plants. Spraying with a nettle suspension or soapy water will be effective. Garlic repulses aphids, I always plant some around the roses.
  • The insect beetle has a larva that attacks the roots of plants. A good crop rotation and fertilisation with green manures is an essential prevention.
  • The molluscs (slugs and snails) feed on young plants. Pick them off by hand or trap them by using beer placed in bowls at ground level. Wood ash or sawdust will protect your sensitive crops.
  • The flea beetle mostly attacks the brassicas. A concoction of black soap and nicotine should be used against these.
  • The cabbage white is a pretty butterfly whose caterpillars eat the leaves. A concoction of tansy will be effective. I also use the side shoots of tomatoes on the cabbages, the particular smell keeps away the butterflies.
  • Moths also have caterpillars & grubs. One uses a concoction of tansy here the same as for the cabbage whites.
  • Voles and field mice are rodents. Their predators live in the hedges. If you do not have a bushy hedge then there is an inbalance and the rodents proliferate...

THE FIGHT AGAINST DISEASE AND PARASITES :

Jardins animés : Bio treatment at the garden...

The best prevention is a good crop rotation. Plant insecticides should be used only as a last resort, they will have a base of pyrethrin and rotenone and be applied in the evenings. Check in the composition of the product that chemicals have not been added.

Lithothamme is a limestone algae rich in trace elements that will strengthen the resistance of your plants. It activates the vegetation and combats aphids and caterpillars. The Bordeaux mixture is a combination of lime and copper sulphate and is used in prevention of or early attack by fungal infection. The solutions with a base of black soap contain, 200 g of black soap, 1/2 l of denatured alcohol and 10 g of marine salt and are used against aphids, spiders and caterpillars.

PLANT EXTRACTS :

Here are 7 good reasons for using vegetable extracts :

  1. They are natural and preserve the environment. The vegetable extracts are obtained by fermentation or extraction, decanting and filtration.
  2. They work on all plants. From the vegetable garden, orchard and also on indoor plants...
  3. They are rich in trace elements and active ingredients. They also contain a significant amount of assimilated nitrogen, potash, phosphorus and mineral salts needed by plants.
  4. They are bio-stimulants and promote growth. They have fertilising, revitalising and antiseptic qualities. They act at each stage of plant growth.
  5. They reinforce the immune system of plants against most diseases (mildew, powdery mildew, chlorosis ...) They increase their resistance against pest attacks.
  6. They are used 9 months out of 12 (from February to November). They are easy to use, they are diluted in water (10% in general) and are used in watering and/or as a leaf spray.
  7. They don't alter the soil. They stimulate the activity of micro-organisms and their beneficial action.

The nettle suspension is a growth activator, it is particularly recommended for:

  • Promoting rooting of all your plants.
  • Developping crops after seed planting.
  • Providing mineral salts to green leafed vegetables and plants.
  • Feeding all the perennials at the end of winter.
  • Acts against chlorosis.
  • Prevents mildew.
  • Encourages cuttings.
  • Fights against root parasites.
  • Enriches the soil.
  • Activates the compost.

To make it yourself use one kilo of nettles without seeds for 10 litres of water. To lessen the smell you can add lithothamme. Some days later you use it by diluting with 90 % water, or 80 % water as a treatment against diseases or parasites.

Comfrey suspension takes over for :

  • Promoting and prolonging flowering.
  • Promoting fruiting.
  • Assisting in the production of seeds.
  • Providing mineral salts to flowering vegetables and fruiting vegetables.
  • Feeds the fruit trees as well as all red fruits and citrons.
  • Feeding the roses and perennial flowers in April.
  • Fighting against parasites and diseases of the soil by its antiseptic action.
  • Enriching the soil and the compost.

Extract of horsetail brings force to your plants by :

  • Giving minerals to your plants.
  • Fighting against powdery mildew.
  • The fight against fungal diseases (black spot on roses, leaf curl, monilinia fructigena ...).
  • Fighting against aphids, cochineals, whitefly, flea beetles...
  • Enriching the soil in silica.

Fern suspension is an ally against the parasites by :

  • Removing slugs and snail (use pure).
  • Fighting against insects
  • Fighting against acarina (red spider mite).
  • Fighting against wooly aphids.
  • Fighting preventively against cochineal.
  • Fighting against the leafhopper.
  • Enriching the soil in calcium and in potassium.

Pure comfrey juice is used for :

  • Healing and caring after pruning, cutting and grafting.
  • Promoting regrowth (undiluted application by brush) after grafting and cutting.
  • Fighting against fungal diseases in association with horsetail for a fungicidal action.
  • Fighting against parasites and diseases of the soil and compost by its antiseptic action (diluted to2%).
  • Enriching the soil like a fertiliser (diluted to 1%).

Other plant extracts :

  • A suspension made from the side shoots of tomatoes is used against cabbage white and leek grubs.
  • A decoction of tansy, soak 400 g of tansy in 10 litres of water for a day. Then boil it for 15 minutes, cover and let it cool then lastly filter. It is used as a spray against flea beetles, aphids, moths and cabbage whites!
  • A decoctaion of elderberry against flea beetles, moths and thrips.

GARDENING WITH THE MOON :

Gardening with the moon is effective if you only garden with natural products. A mushroom picker knows that the moon influences their growth, but if there isn't any water, then no mushrooms! The moon also influences the seeding and planting of the natural garden. Obviously the climate has a role, and it would be futile to persist to sow because "the moon is good" when it freezes! A waxing crescent moon is situated between the new moon and the full moon. A few days before the full moon I sow and I transplant the root vegetables and leaf vegetables. At the waning crescent moon, I sow the fruiting vegetables and the seed vegetables some days before the new moon.. Also, to stop the grass growing too quickly I mow preferably during a waning crescent moon. We must not confuse a waxing and a waning mooon with an ascending and descending moon ( in respect of the horizon). I am rather sceptical about the lunar calendars with the influence of constellations for leafy vegetables (water signs), roots (earth signs), flowers (air signs) and fruits (fire signs). My experience in this field did not allow me to draw conclusions contrary to the significant role of the moon waxing and waning !

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