A Gardener's Guide

Christine Graf's picture

Growing our own garden can give us lots of pleasures!
It makes us feel creative while watching the seed we have sowed germinate and gradually grow into a plant. It motivates us to be closer to nature and mother earth. It gives us satisfaction when we jubilantly take the harvest straight on our table. It's a relaxing hobby. It saves us money.
But above all, it supplies us with aromatic herbs and fresh, juicy and tasty vegetables, free of chemicals, so we know what we eat.
Gardening might demand hard work, however, you'll be rewarded for all your efforts, so....why not try it for yourselves? We hope this guide will be a useful tool for you!


Liesma's picture

Apple tree growing

Fruit growing has old traditions in Latvia and the climatic conditions and soil are favorable for it, especially in the eastern regions of Latvia. Our fruits and berries may contain somewhat less sugar than the varieties grown in the south, yet they have more aroma and organic acids, and significantly less pesticide sprayings are needed for their growing. Apples are by far the most widely grown fruit crop in all types of orchards in Latvia.


Rosie's picture


Green manures are plants that are grown not to eat or for their beauty, but for the health of the soil. Growing ‘green manure’ is an effective way to improve your soil. They help in several ways. As they grow the foliage helps to suppress weeds and also provides cover for beetles and other pest eating creatures. They protect the soil from heavy winter rains which can wash nutrients away and harm the soil structure. The roots also help improve soil structure and some which grow deep bring trace elements to the surface. Those of them which are nitrogen fixers absorb nitrogen from the air and then, when the plants are dug back into the soil they release the nitrogen and other nutrients for whatever you plant next to use.

Grow them wherever the ground would be unused for six weeks or more, many can be left in place for a year or more and cut back to provide a mulch. People who grow to strict organic standards prefer green manures to animal manures such as horse manure as they worry that horses may have been treated with antibiotics. Seeds can be obtained from organic suppliers, mixtures are sometimes available in large garden centres.

Green manure plants Overwinter Nitrogen fixer Sow

Alfalfa  April-July

Field beans  Sept.-Nov.

Buckwheat  April-Aug.

Clover, crimson  April-Sept.

Clover, others  April-August

Fenugreek  March-Aug.

Lupins  March-June

Mustard  March-Sept.

Phacelia  March-Sept.

Radish  August-Sept.

Rye – grazing  August-Sept.

Rye- grass  Spring or Autumn

Tares  March-Sept.

Trefoil  March-August

For soil improvement it is better to dig green manures in before they flower, however some of them have lovely flowers that are attractive to bees and other beneficial insects. Try leaving some patches to flower.

Caution: As green manures decay in the soil some of them release compounds that inhibit the germination of small seeds. To avoid difficulty follow them with transplanted crops, sets or tubers or allow at least four weeks in between digging in green manures and sowing seeds.

Taken from http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk

Rosie's picture


Wood has many uses in the garden, including fencing, compost bins, support structures, bed edging and garden furniture. In an organic garden it is important to consider the source of the wood, to minimise the need for wood preservatives, and to use the least damaging preservative treatments if essential.

The degree of protection that wood requires differs with the type of wood, and the situation it is being used in. Rotting is most likely in situations where the wood is in contact with both moisture and air, such as at the base of fence posts.

Where timber is being used for structural purposes, such as decking, then safety takes precedence and it would be wise to use pre-treated wood. If wood is used for bed edging, or a compost box, it can be left untreated; it can last for years without any preservatives.

Best organic practice – the first choice

Coppice products, from your own garden or allotment – for plant support structures, bed edging, furniture and other appropriate uses. Choose species of wood more resistant to rotting. Species vary considerably in durability. Accept that the wood will rot eventually, and replace it as necessary

Acceptable organic practice

Coppice products bought in from sustainable sources, preferably local – for plant support structures, bed edging, furniture and other appropriate uses

New timber from sustainable sources, with an accredited mark to prove it. Look for accreditation, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or the Soil Association (SA) woodmark. UK or European produced timber is preferable.

Second-hand/reclaimed timber, though it can be difficult to know if it has been treated with preservatives.

Organically grown timber 

Railway sleepers, not treated with creosote or other preservative treatment

Builders scaffolding boards. Usually untreated, but always check before purchase

Linseed oil wood treatment

Acceptable, but not for regular use

Synthetic ‘wood’ alternatives, made from recycled materials such as plastics

Never acceptable in an organic garden

Wood from unsustainable forests, particularly from tropical regions

Wood treated with creosote, including old railway sleepers

New and ‘second hand’ wood treated with Copper Chrome Arsenic pressure treatment

Taken from http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/

Rosie's picture


Energy use – in manufacture, processing, packaging, transportation, and final use – has been taken into account. The aim is, of course, to cut it to a minimum. But it makes sense to ‘think energy’ in all gardening activities including garden design and storage of garden produce.

Your garden might also be used to harvest ‘green’ energy.

Best organic practice – the first choice

Build soil fertility by growing nitrogen fixing plants

Buy second hand, or sturdy, long lasting tools and recycle and repair tools where possible

Use manual, rather than powered, tools e.g. push lawnmower, shears, lawn rake

Use solar energy for lighting garden paths and sheds, running water pumps, and greenhouse ventilation

Use non-electric automatic vents to ventilate a greenhouse.

Use wood from the garden for stakes and supports, or firewood

Use a lean-to green greenhouse where the back wall will store solar heat.

Water filled tanks and bottles also store heat

Grow seasonally to reduce requirement for heating

Insulate greenhouses

Use manure based hot beds to provide low level heat for raising seedlings

Use cold storage, clamps or other traditional preserving methods

Acceptable organic practice

Heated bench for additional greenhouse heating

Use fleece to protect plants in greenhouse or cold frame from frost

When store garden produce in a fridge or freezer, use A++ appliances, set to the minimum temperature necessary

Where engine or lubricant oils are needed, use plant-based oils (bio-diesel, bio-lubricant) as they are fully biodegradable

Use the garden to harvest energy, such as ground source heating systems or solar hot water panels mounted on a pergola or a garden shed

Acceptable, but not for regular use

Petrol and electricity driven tools until they can be replaced by alternatives

Gas, electricity and other fuels from non-renewable sources to heat greenhouses, where essential and with care to minimise losses

Never acceptable in an organic garden

Inefficient and wasteful use of fossil fuel derived energy

Fossil fuel fired patio heaters

Taken from http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/