An Expert View on Organic Gardening, by Stephanie Donaldson, Gardens Editor Country Living Magazine

By Stephanie Donaldson

Expert View: Organic gardening is the most sustainable, environmentally responsible and wildlife friendly way for both professional and amateur gardeners to care for the land.

[caption id="attachment_863" align="alignleft" width="96" caption="Stephanie Donaldson"]Stephanie Donaldson[/caption]

Name: Stephanie Donaldson

What course do you teach? Understanding Organic Gardening

Stephanie Donaldson teaches a course on Organic Gardening at MyGardenSchool. Stephanie is the Contributing Garden Editor on Country Living magazine, author of many gardening books and blogs about her own garden and anything garden related at

Q. What qualifications route did you take to realise your career?
Practical, hands-on experience from childhood, working in plant nurseries, working as a professional gardener, and learning new skills from short courses to broaden my knowledge base.

Q. Please explain in detail what students will learn during your course
Students will be helped to understand the philosophy behind organic gardening and why this type of gardening is important. They will also be given the information they need to get started as an organic gardener, techniques to keep the soil fertile, control pest and diseases, and lower their garden’s carbon footprint.

Q. What’s the first thing you teach your students?
I will answer the question ‘What is Organic Gardening?’ The answer will help students understand everything that follows.

Q. What qualities do you need to succeed in your industry?
As an organic gardener I need a desire to garden more sustainably, an understanding of what this means, and the patience to develop a balanced system in my garden rather than looking for quick fixes.

Q. What are the benefits of studying your subject?
Organic gardening is good for both your health and the health of the soil and will retain the fertility of your garden in a sustainable way.

Q. Please explain why you love your subject
I love gardening and this is a way for me to garden with Nature rather than trying to dominate it.

Q. What skills do your students have by the end of the course?
They will have the knowledge that allows them to make good compost and other soil improvers, to deal with pests and diseases without resorting to chemicals and create a sustainable, wildlife friendly garden.

Q. What do students normally do once they’ve finished their course?
Go out into their garden and put into practise what they have learned.

Q. What’s the best way to go about getting a job in your industry?
Being a lifelong, hands-on, organic gardener has given me the experience to pass on my knowledge to others. It is still possible to have a successful and rewarding career in horticulture without spending many years studying. In gardening, enthusiasm and hard work count for a lot, but plant knowledge (which can be self taught) is also essential.

Q. Can you describe a typical day in your working life?
These days about half the day is spent writing about gardens or gardening and the other half doing it, or visiting other gardens.

Q. What advice do you have for people interested in studying a course like yours?
This is a course that will allow an amateur gardener to turn their garden over to organic cultivation and will be a good introduction to anyone who is thinking of taking up organic horticulture as a profession.

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