Our Secret Garden Philosophy
Naturally, we are concerned about the world our children are growing into. That's why we strive to make a difference in our daily work. We have become researchers as well as growers in our attempts to positively impact the environment. We are happy in the knowledge that every small measure we take to minimise harm, is a step towards a cleaner, healthier planet.
We recognise that our soil Is one of our most important living assets. That's why we're committed to actively working to find ways of naturally enhancing its quality and biodiversity, using only organic means. Agri-chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides have no place in The Secret Garden. Our philosophy of clean, environmentally-friendly growing ensures healthy soil, which grows healthier, nutrient-dense plants, resulting in an improved product.
Some of the ways we are working to improve our environment:
We produce our own activated Biochar, which locks up carbon when spread onto our gardens, adding to the existing carbon reservoir in our soils. Not only does this help offset greenhouse gas emissions, but it also improves microbial activity.
We keep tillage to an absolute minimum. By not disturbing the soil, we promote the development of soil microbiology, in particular Mycorrhizal fungi, which benefit our plants as well as our earthworm population.
We use a diverse range of cover crops, including beans, vetch, peas, rye, wheat and oats, to blanket the soil in between our crops protecting it from exposure to the elements. Many of these plants fix nitrogen in the soil.
PHYSICAL and BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL
Wherever possible, we try not to interfere with our insect population, preferring to let pests and predators fight it out between themselves. When this isn't possible, we reach for our netting to create a physical barrier between crop and pest. Our second line of defense is to buy-in predatory insects. Only when absolutely necessary, we spray affected crops using products approved for use in Organic farming.
HYDROPONIC GROWING MEDIUM
We have extended our growing methods to include hydroponics for certain plant varieties. In doing so, we opt to grow these varieties on a New Zealand-made wool felt manufactured using a process which recycles wool, most likely intended for landfill. After production, the felt is composted in our own compost heaps or used as mulch.
While RPET plastic punnets are recyclable, we have no control over whether or not they end up in landfill (taking up to 450 years to decompose). Our solution is the introduction of a bagasse tub - more than halving our annual plastic consumption. We will work to further reduce plastic consumption as appropriate technology becomes available.