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What organic gardening means to you? Most people will say gardening without using chemical fertilizer or pesticides on their plants, but this is only 50% of the story.
This post will discuss what organic gardening really is and we will also give you an idea about how you can make your garden an organic garden. If you’re unsure about committing to organic growing or you need more information, this will help.
What is Organic Gardening:
Organic gardening is really growing an ecosystem that not only sustains the life of plants, but also soil microbes and helpful insects. When you practice organic gardening you understand that when the plants are healthy they are much more resistant to pest and diseases. So your main focus would be to keep your plants healthy rather than give them a short term boost with fertilizers and pesticides.
How Organic Gardening Better Than Inorganic Gardening?
Organic gardening is better than chemical gardening because:
- It is better for the health of you and your family.
- As the methods are sustainable over the long term it is better for the environment. and
- They are more productive and beautiful than any inorganic gardens.
How to Build An Organic Garden:
To simplify we will classify the concept of organic gardening in four major points. To prepare an organic garden you have to follow these four steps.
- Build the soil
- Plant wisely
- Control pest with integrated pest management
- Conserve valuable resources
The main focus for any organic gardener would be to create healthy soil. First, you have to make the foundation right so then you can build on that. The motto should be “feed the soil, not the plant.”
Most of the home gardener’s problems doesn’t cause by any pest or pathogen rather by poor soil conditions. A good quality soil gives physical support, water, air, and nutrients to plants as well as other soil-dwelling organisms.
Plant’s roots need enough air to breathe and water to live. So any good soil can not be too solid. And should have enough pores to hold water and air.
The soil is also home to a large number of living organisms. Soil organisms are crucial for the well-being of the soil. Without soil organisms, very little soil formation would take place. Some of these organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and certain insects and mites, are microscopic. Others, such as ants and earthworms, are larger.
Giving plants their required nutrients is key to growing healthy plants. These nutrients help plants to grow; flourish, and fend off pests and diseases, and environmental stresses. Organic gardeners realised that the best way to feed any plant is to feed the soil. Many beneficial organisms reside in the soil, you nourish them, and they, in turn, will nourish the plants.
Organic matter, like compost, manure etc provides food for different soil dwellers like fungi, bacteria, and earthworms. They, in turn, break down these organic matters into essentials plant nutrients.
Organic Matters Helps Your Soil in Following Ways:
- It easily improves the condition and structure of your current soil;
- Organic matters improve the water holding capacity of your soil drastically.
- It adds additional nutrients to the soil and also releases them slowly.
- Organic matters increase the microbiological activities inside the soil.
- Organic matters speed up the composting process of the pre-existing organic waste materials.
- Encourages growth of earthworms and other beneficial micro-organisms.
Now, in some cases, you still have to add extra nutrients to keep plants happy. In these cases use organic slow-release fertilizers. They will encourages strong, steady, healthy plant growth.
Unlike synthetic fertilizers, most organic fertilizers don’t harm soil life or plant’s root. As an added benefit they provide a broad range of trace elements that you won’t get when you buy chemical fertilizers.
Maintain a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Because plants evolved over millennia to adapt to specific growing conditions, they thrive when those conditions are met. Choosing plants that match a garden site’s sun, shade, climate, soil type, and soil moisture, you’ll be well on your way to creating a healthy, thriving, pest-free landscape.
Study your local climate thoroughly, and choose plants that can effectively match your climate.
Ensure that you not only cultivating stable plants but also animal communities. In nature, plants and animals live in ecosystems and everyone actively contributes to making the system work. If you are growing an organic garden it is your duty to make sure that each plant and animal species have enough food, water, and place to live.
Encourage diversity in your landscapes, include many species of trees, shrubs, and perennial and annual plants. This rich diversity helps each plant species survive in many ways:
- As pests and diseases are generally plant-specific rich plant diversity restricts the damages caused by them.
- The deep-rooted plants help other small rooted plants by bringing soil nutrients to the surface.
- Legumes help to increase the nitrogen content of the soil, whereas tall plants provide shades for small shade-loving plants.
The more diverse the plants in your garden the more will be the variety of wildlife and insects. Berries attract birds; nectar-rich flowers draw butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.
Your garden needs wildlife and insects. Beneficial insects and other creatures prey on plant pests and pollinate plants. Insects such as ladybugs; syrphid flies; and tiny, parasitic wasps are some of your best friends in the garden.
Encourage beneficial creatures by providing a variety of habitats.
Plant flower varieties that bloom all season long. Herbs like basil, cilantro, alyssum and thyme, dill etc are some of the must-haves for your garden. We have discussed these in detail in this post.
The biggest difference between organic gardening and non-organic gardening is how it treats the problem of pest infestation. An organic gardener treats every pest individually, and try to find simple solutions to solve the problem rather than inciting a mass killing approach.
Integrated pest management or IPM uses different strategies to control pests. For an organic gardener, this simply means using the easiest, cheapest and environmental-friendly methods to control pest problems.
A simple water spray with a gardening hose can keep the aphids away. You can easily pick cabbage worms by hand and remove them manually.
You don’t need to kill every insect that is on your plant. Many insects actually do more good than harm to your plants. In organic gardening, we use such beneficial insects to our benefit.
Remember, pests are also important for your garden because they provide food for beneficial insects. If the pests are obliterated totally then the beneficial insects will starve or leave your garden as the food will become scarce. So it is better to tolerate some pests as long as their population is limited. It will assure their predators that your garden is a good place to hang around.
With simple attentiveness you can ensure that small issues remains small and don’t turn into big mess.
Reduce, recycle, reuse. Reuse the nutrients by composting kitchen scraps and garden trimmings. Keep a close eye on water wastage. Make sure the products you use in your garden don’t harm the environment and also comes from a clean source.
A well thought out organic garden rarely faces drought problems because they are better adapted to restricted watering due to their well-nurtured soil.
You should know how to water your plants properly. The moisture should directly go to the roots where it’s needed. Most organic gardeners prefer soaker hoses and drip irrigation. They apply water slowly, right to the soil. This way the water gets soaked and rarely it runs off.
Water applied through overhead sprinklers goes mostly to waste. Up to 1/3rd of the water is lost to evaporation. They are one of the worst possible ways to water your garden.
In A Nutshell:
- When we talk about Gardening organically, we think of plants as part of the whole ecological system. So it also includes soil, water supply even insects. We have to work in harmony with the natural system and continuously replenish the resource which has been used by the garden.
- The main concept of Organic Gardening is Recycling. Using kitchen scraps, animal and vegetable wastes to provide plants with nutrition or using household soaps or vinegar to prevent pests is just an integral part of organic gardening.
- Organic gardening is the merging of plants and soil to work together as a total system to provide food and nutrition not only to humans but also to animals and different organisms.
- Rely on developing healthy and fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops using a crop rotation system.
- Organic gardening does not allow Genetically modified(GM) crops.
Hope you enjoyed the post. You can read more posts on organic gardening here.
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