Everyone has heard of organic gardening, but do you know what is organic gardening? In the most basic terms organic gardening is when a gardener doesn’t use any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on their plants. In addition organic gardeners usually try to work in harmony with the environment and try to minimize the use of the world’s resources. Kitchen waste, grass clippings, and leaves are all items that the organic gardener will reuse by adding these items to their compost pile, and then adding the nutrient rich compost to the garden. Organic gardeners must be selective and choose the proper species that are best suited to their local environment. Each species has a preferred climate that they will perform to their peak. They will also have the natural ability to defend themselves against local insects that may be present.
Perhaps you have heard of the phrase “feed the soil”. This is a term organic gardeners are very familiar with, as they feed the soil naturally, not synthetically. Organic gardeners do fertilize their gardens; however they use natural fertilizers like manure, compost, compost tea, and fish fertilizers. Adding organic matter to the soil has several benefits. It improves the condition and structure of the soil, as well as improving the soils ability to hold water. It allows for nutrients to be released slowly as well as supporting the soils microbiological activity.
Additionally many organic gardeners like to use natural mulches such as lawn clippings, to suppress weeds, as well as maintain moisture and heat near their plants. Many people fail to realize that weeds are a major source of insects that will attract disease and insects. Therefore gardeners must keep their gardens as weed free as possible.
It is a good practice to stay out of your garden when it is wet. This will prevent the spreading of diseases, which take place much easier when plants are wet. Organic gardeners do use copper sulfate sprays, which comes from naturally occurring minerals, to fight off certain plant diseases. By rotating your crops every year you can decrease the likely hood of diseases that may have overwintered in your gardens soil.
Organic gardeners make use of companion planting. Generally there are two types of companion planting that gardeners do. One where plants will complement each other by the nutrient uptake that each plant variety needs. The other where certain plants will repel insects from other crops. You can plant onions, garlic, and marigolds among your vegetables to repel insects and even some animals. In future articles we will explore each component of organic gardening in more detail.