Hidden Helpers in an Organic Garden

Laburnum – `a ‘nitrogen fixer’ – could not work without some hidden helpers…

If you are one of the many people growing their own for the first time this year, you might feel overwhelmed at times. Stick with it! Even though you will make mistakes, and even though things will go wrong, growing your own is still immensely satisfying. Even if your yields are patchy, and your plants don’t make it here and there, you will still be winning over all. The more you can grow for yourself, the more sustainable your life can be.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are not in this on your own. In an organic garden, there is a team of hidden helpers quietly ‘lending a hand’. Some of your garden helpers are visible – from the earthworms in the soil to the insects pollinating your plants, to a wide range of insects, birds and other animals that eat pests and help in a range of other ways. An organic garden teems with life, and each creature plays its part.

But new gardeners are often astonished to hear about all the hidden helpers in an organic garden that we do not see.

For example, there are between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria in just one teaspoon of healthy soil. We tend to think of bacteria in negative terms. We concern ourselves with bacteria that pose a risk to human health. But most bacteria do no harm to us. In fact, there are many bacteria that work to our benefit.

Bacteria can help in our gardens in a wide range of ways. They:

  • Play an important role in our planet’s nitrogen cycle, and in the cycling of other nutrients.
  • Help to incorporate organic matter and sequester carbon in the soil.
  • Aid in bio-remediation – removing pollutants from the soil.
  • Are antagonists for a range of pests, parasites etc..
  • Interact with plants beneficially in a wide range of different ways.

Certain bacteria present in certain soils have even been shown to boost our serotonin levels. They. can promote our happiness and well-being.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at another category of hidden helper in a garden: fungi.

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