What is organic gardening. Many people think of organic gardening as gardening with no chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers. This is true, but there are so many other factors.
Aside for the fact that no synthetic chemicals are used it is healthier for the environment. Chemicals don’t get released into the environment and pollute the water or soil.
Because there are no synthetic chemicals used, it is healthier for you. There is no chemical residue in your food, less risk to your pets when they roam in the garden or to the wildlife.
Home grown food tastes better and is more nutritious, especially since it is taking up nutrients that are naturally in the soil.
Organic gardening improves the soil and encourages good microbes to grow in the soil, breaking down nutrients and making them available to your plants. You use natural means of pest control and weed control that are more in harmony with nature and less harmful to it.
Just because one does not use chemical pesticides and fertilizers does not mean however that there are no pesticides or fertilizers available. There are natural fertilizers and pesticides that can be used.
Improving The Soil
When you do organic gardening, you are working to improve the soil. This provides the best possible growing conditions for whatever plants you want to grow. When you have healthy plants, there is less chance for disease or other pests to get a foothold. Doing this year after year, and making your own compost, both improves the soil and returns it back to your garden. In the long run, gardening this way can be less expensive than relying on chemical fertilizers.
You can improve the soil by adding organic matter, whether compost, manure, or other organic material to enrich the soil. There are organic fertilizers you can also use, in addition to compost or manure.
I’m not entirely an organic gardener. However, I do adhere to most of the basic principals inherent in organic gardening. I essentially try to avoid using chemical fertilizers and prefer to use compost and natural fertilizers such as minerals to amend my soil. This does not mean that I do not pull out the Roundup when I am just fed up with a particular weed. When I have too much trouble managing the problem by natural means I do use some limited chemical ones. However, the objective is to reduce their use as much as possible, while still having an effective solution.
Beginning An Organic Garden
So how do you so how do you begin organic gardening. Essentially you start the same way you would with any other kind of garden.
. You select the site. For an organic vegetable garden, you still need full sun, 6-10 hours a day.
. You need good drainage.
. Space start small 4 x 8, if you are a beginner. Make a plot in which you are able to reach into the garden to weed or harvest.
. You prepare the soil, using a spade or garden fork to loosen clods of dirt. Remove sod and dig in compost or other organic material. You can use organic or mineral amendments, such as organic fertilizer, sulpher for acifying the soil or lime for sweetening the soil (at the appropriate time of year).
. Another method called Lasagna gardening is easier than digging, and you don’t have to remove the sod.
. You just lay down newspaper or cardboard on top of the area you want to plant and layer things on top like straw, grass clippings, compost and leaves. You don’t need to work it with a pitchfork. You can just leave it and let the microbes do their job, so that next spring you have a garden plot with the beneficial microbes already in it. The newspaper, grass and compost smother the weeds and sod and you are left with a garden.
. If you made your bed by digging, you can even begin to garden any time, even in midsummer with summer season crops and herbs. If you begin in fall, you can plant salad greens and cool season crops or crops that overwinter, like onions.
Organic Pest Control
Organic pest control falls into several primary categories.
. The first kind are cultural controls. What are cultural controls, you ask? You essentially modify your garden to make it the most conducive to healthy plant growth. And of course, building healthy soil. This can include crop rotation, planting pest resistant varieties of plants, and weeding by hand or tools, and generally keeping your area clean up debris and diseased material, or preventing standing water.
. The next type of pest controls are mechanical controls. Using mechanical controls you set up a barrier between your plants and whatever wants to eat them. This can include weed cloth, fences, row covers, or electronic repellents (like thumpers or motion sensing sprinklers).
. The next organic method of pest control is biological control. This can include bringing in bird feeders so that you attract birds to your garden which eat pest insects, planting plants that attract beneficial insects that also eat the bad bugs. What you don’t want to do is kill off the good bugs. This is one of the problems with chemicals. They kill the good bugs too.
. Lastly, there are organic or botanical options of pest control. These can include things like BT (a beneficial bacteria), diatomaceous earth, which which kills slugs and insects, insecticidal soaps, and organic herbicides like concentrated vinegar.
. Now just because an insecticide or fertilizer is organic, does not necessarily mean that it’s nontoxic. Insecticides containing pyrethrum, which is unnatural extract of the chrysanthemum, can be toxic; so the same care should be taken when handling them as you would with a chemical insecticide. Likewise, organic fertilizers such as manure contain a large amount of nitrogen, and should not be used in excess due to the risk of getting into the groundwater.
Just used common sense when using any of them and use the same protective gear that you would want applying on synthetic fertilizers or insecticides.
So, applying a few good practices in selecting a garden site, improving the soil and maintaining it, organic gardening can give you a healthy and productive garden and landscape for you, your kids and your pets to enjoy. Plus, they will be healthier for the wildlife and the environment.
Have fun in your organic home garden.