Organic Gardening

Before the advent of chemical treatments and fertilizers, gardening was always, by definition, organic. Unfortunately, the march of technology hasn’t been all to the good, and while there have been great advantages, we now all know that pesticides and other chemicals can have a detrimental long-term effect on our land, our crops and our health.

How did we get here?

The first nitrogen fertilizers were produced in the mid-1800s, and became cheap enough to move into common use around the turn century, when the mechanisation of the Industrial Revolution was in full flow. Even then, some people were against the new methods and pointed out the delicate nature of the relationship between the farmer, the plants, the land and the organisms that live on it.

It was in the 1950s that chemicals began to seriously impact people’s lives, and not long after that the potential harm of these practices – such as spraying DDT – became apparent.

From that time, the organic movement began to grow until now an increasing area of land is being farmed organically, and most gardeners favour the organic way.

Garden Organic

Garden Organic, the UK's leading organic growing charity, has been at the forefront of the organic horticulture movement for 50 years and is dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food. A dynamic, influential and committed organisation, they believe passionately in an organic approach to a sustainable future for people and our planet.

What do they do?

  • Organic gardening advice: Whether you are a novice gardener or need specific advice on dealing with a pest or disease, they can offer r information and advice.
  • Garden Organic guidelines: Based on Garden Organic's 50 years’ experience in organic growing, the Garden Organic guidelines will help you look after your garden organically, whatever the size or style.
  • Research and international development: They run major research programmes that help farmers and growers across the UK and overseas to adopt organic methods.
  • Schools: Over 10% of UK schools have joined Garden Organic's free educational programme, Garden Organic for Schools, helping pupils learn about food and organic growing.
  • Home composting: Over 500 Master Composter volunteers from around the UK have so far been trained to spread the home composting message through Garden Organic's sustainable waste programme.
  • Heritage seed library: Ryton is also home to the charity's renowned Heritage Seed Library, which protects over 800 varieties of rare vegetable seeds from the threat of extinction.
  • Organic weed management: They offer a primary resource on weed management for organic farms, reporting on the latest weed research and techniques and acting as a focal point for farmers and researchers to share their experiences.
  • The Sustainable Production in Active Neighbourhoods (SPAN) partnership: This is actively engaging with ten pilot communities in tackling sustainable local food production and consumption, and related sustainability issues.

Organic gardens to visit

Garden Organic also manages demonstration gardens showing all aspects of organic growing.

  • Garden Organic Ryton: Over 30 individual gardens in ten acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, this site also include’s Britain's best organic restaurant, the world's first public biodynamic garden, an award winning organic shop, conference facilities and the Vegetable Kingdom.
  • Audley End Organic Kitchen Garden: This glorious Jacobean stately home is owned by English Heritage. Garden Organic helped in the painstaking restoration of the organic kitchen garden from an overgrown, semi-derelict state in 1999.
  • Heritage Seed Library: Garden Organic Ryton is also home to the charity's renowned Heritage Seed Library, which protects over 800 varieties of rare vegetable seeds from the threat of extinction.

Produce from the Organic Gardening Catalogue
Garden Organic’s official catalogue for organic and environmentally friendly gardeners offers organic seeds for vegetables, herbs, flowers and green manures; organic composts and fertilisers; biological pest controls plus all your other gardening needs.

Join the club!
You can support Garden Organic's work by becoming a Garden Organic member. You’ll access practical and specialist advice for all levels of gardener through a quarterly magazine, members' only area on this website and factsheets, as well as access to Garden Organic's dedicated team of advisors who answer more than 5,000 organic gardening queries every year.

You also receive a 10% discount on all goods from the Organic Gardening Catalogue and unlimited free admission to Garden Organic's demonstration gardens, plus free entry to the RHS gardens at Wisley, Harlow Carr, Rosemoor and Hyde Hall, plus over 20 other gardens across the UK.