Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

10 Ideas to Steal from Organic Gardens Around the World

Search

10 Ideas to Steal from Organic Gardens Around the World

April 9, 2020

Organic gardening by definition makes everything happier. Instead of growing plants with the help of harsh chemical fertilizers and pesticides, organic gardeners nourish and replenish the soil with natural methods which are gentle on the environment and create welcoming habitats for insects, birds, and wildlife.

Whether you’re growing edible or ornamental plants, your garden can benefit from these 10 ideas to steal from organic gardeners around the world.

Fruit Cages

At Lismore Castle in Ireland, the seven-acre garden includes a kitchen garden for growing fruit and vegetables used by the restaurant and family. See more at Lismore Castle in Ireland: An Insider’s View Through the Seasons. Photograph by Lee Behegan.
Above: At Lismore Castle in Ireland, the seven-acre garden includes a kitchen garden for growing fruit and vegetables used by the restaurant and family. See more at Lismore Castle in Ireland: An Insider’s View Through the Seasons. Photograph by Lee Behegan.

Fruit cages are a humane way to keep birds away from your berries. “If you’ve ever tried to grow soft fruits out in the open then you’ll know that birds of all shapes and sizes love delicious ripe berries just as much as we do. And they can strip plants bare with mechanical precision—usually on the very morning that you’ve decided to harvest your crop. So a fruit cage is a must if you want to grow soft fruits on any kind of scale,” writes our contributor Clare Coulson.

For a range of options, see Hardscaping 101: Fruit Cages.

Mown Grass Paths

A mown grass path beneath an arch of apple and pear branches. See more at Garden Visit: A Modern Garden for a Gothic Estate in the Cotswolds. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.
Above: A mown grass path beneath an arch of apple and pear branches. See more at Garden Visit: A Modern Garden for a Gothic Estate in the Cotswolds. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

Easy on the pocketbook as well as the environment, mown grass paths encourage rainwater to percolate back into the soil. See more at Landscape on a Budget: 10 Ideas for Mown Grass Paths.

Biodynamic Methods

Photograph by Howard Sooley. See more in The Best Vegetables You’ll Ever Taste.
Above: Photograph by Howard Sooley. See more in The Best Vegetables You’ll Ever Taste.

A growing number of organic farmers are embracing Austrian philosopher and edible gardener Rudolf Steiner’s principles of biodynamic gardening, writes our contributor Clare Coulson. “Biodynamics is a twofold approach to growing, whether on farms or on a smaller domestic scale. First, organic preparations are used at different times in the growing cycle. And secondly there is the biodynamic calendar—which encourages growers to look to the cosmos for the optimum planting time—the aspect, perhaps understandably, that prompts criticism of the movement. Of any growing practice or philosophy, it is perhaps the most controversial, disputed by some scientists yet revered by the growers who follow it.”

See more in Landscaping 101: Biodynamics for the Edible Garden.

The Ideal Dimensions

See more of this garden at Killiehuntly Farmhouse: An Organic Garden in the Scottish Highlands. Photograph by Martin Kaufmann, courtesy of Killiehuntly.
Above: See more of this garden at Killiehuntly Farmhouse: An Organic Garden in the Scottish Highlands. Photograph by Martin Kaufmann, courtesy of Killiehuntly.

If you’re designing a garden with raised bed, “It is vital to be able to reach the center of the beds from either side to avoid stepping on the beds, which compresses the soil,” writes our contributor Clare Coulson. “For most people, this means limiting the width to about four feet. If your bed is only accessible from one side, limit the width to a maximum of three feet.”

See more on the ideal dimensions, at Hardscaping 101: Raised Garden Beds.

Edible Hedges

See more at Field of Dreams: A New Kind of Farm—for Members—at Noci Sonoma. Photography by Mimi Giboin.
Above: See more at Field of Dreams: A New Kind of Farm—for Members—at Noci Sonoma. Photography by Mimi Giboin.

“Green living fences can border gardens large and small. Is it time to choose a hedge instead of a fence?” asks our contributor Jeanne Rostaing. It’s an added bonus when the shrubs in a hedge produce edible fruits. See more in Hardscaping 101: Hedges.

French Intensive Gardening

For more, see Slide Ranch, at the Edge of the World. Photograph by Katie Newburn.
Above: For more, see Slide Ranch, at the Edge of the World. Photograph by Katie Newburn.

In the organic garden at Slide Ranch in west Marin County in northern California, ornamental and edible varieties are planted together, a feature of the French intensive gardening method to maximize productivity while minimizing irrigation. See more ways to get the most out of a small space in The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden.

Warm Walls

See more at Walled Gardens: An Organic and Picturesque Plot at Old-Lands in Wales. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.
Above: See more at Walled Gardens: An Organic and Picturesque Plot at Old-Lands in Wales. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

Warm brick walls are a perfect spot to train espaliered fruit trees, writes contributor Clare Coulson. They’ll absorb heat from the sun and hold it (as well as provide a windbreak for tender plants).

Wild Farming

See more at Before & After: A Landscape Where ‘Horticultural Worlds Collide’ at Scribe Winery. Photograph courtesy of Terremoto.
Above: See more at Before & After: A Landscape Where ‘Horticultural Worlds Collide’ at Scribe Winery. Photograph courtesy of Terremoto.

At Scribe Winery in northern California, organic farming techniques invite birds and insects into the garden and rows of grapevines. The winery’s owners dub the practice “wild farming,” because it encourages horticultural worlds to collide.

Grid System

Above: See more at Can This Garden Be Saved: ‘My Vegetable Garden Looks Messy’. Photograph by Jim Powell.

“A great kitchen garden depends on a delicate balance, hovering between ‘organized’ and ‘chaos’,” writes our contributor Kendra Wilson. “No matter how decadent the top half is, a grid of sharp lines keeps an edible garden organized at the base.”

The solution? Use permanent landscape edging. For more inspiration, see Hardscaping 101: Metal Landscape Edging.

Simple Materials

For more, see Sky High Farm: Artist Dan Colen’s Painterly Landscape in the Hudson Valley. Photograph by Rush Jagoe, courtesy of Berman Horn Studio.
Above: For more, see Sky High Farm: Artist Dan Colen’s Painterly Landscape in the Hudson Valley. Photograph by Rush Jagoe, courtesy of Berman Horn Studio.

Are you designing a new garden, or rehabbing last year’s? Start with our curated Garden Design 101 guides, for growing tips and inspiration for Edible Gardens Design and Hardscape 101 projects including Gravel Gardens, Fences & Gates, and Pavers. See more ideas for designing a sustainable garden:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0