I have busy neighbors. They seem to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of them are in the construction business, others in waste removal or development. These engineers really understand complex science and chemistry. Did I mention that my neighbors live underground?No, they’re not aliens! They are part of an ecosystem maintained through organic gardening.
We have all heard of organic gardening, but what exactly does that term mean? Gardening organically in its purest form means we adopt a set of guidelines that incorporate the following principles.
- We’re all in this together. Anything we do to our yard and garden not only affects our health and well-being, but the health and well-being of other living creatures. What we put in as well as what we take out has an impact on the soil, water and air.
- Garden smart. Learn about your soil, chose plants that are compatible with your area and find out how to attract beneficial insects.
- Do a soil test to find out what your soil lacks and chose organically derived nutrients to remedy any deficiencies. Healthy soil promotes healthy plants that are more capable of fighting off disease and insect infestation.
- Read the tags when you buy plants to make sure you are choosing the most disease and insect resistant varieties available. Plant tags also tell you how much water a plant will need and sun requirements. Putting a plant in the right area reduces plant stress. Stress weakens a plant which leads to declining plant health and the need for costly cures.
- Adding plants that attract beneficial insect predators cuts down on the need for pesticides. Attracting bees and butterflies will help pollinate the flowers on your fruit and vegetable plants.
- Only use what you need. Over watering, excessive use of fertilizer and pesticides (even organic products) and over tilling contribute to decline in the delicate balance of nature. Again, take the time to learn about the plant needs. Over watering rots plant roots and washes away valuable nutrients. Over tilling can disrupt the habitat of beneficial soil organisms and insects.
- Give back. Learn how to compost in order to return organic matter to the soil. Remember that healthy soil is alive and contains millions of beneficial bacteria and thousands of fungal threads per tablespoon. These organisms promote plant health and are essential for plant roots to absorb nutrients from soil and water.
Benefits of Organic Gardening
Keep the above principles in mind and you will reap many benefits from gardening organically.
- increase the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables
- save time weeding and watering
- save money on pesticides
- composting saves money by providing a free soil amendment, micronutrients and beneficial soil organisms
- save the quality of the soil for future generations
Now that you know the basic concepts of organic gardening, let me be the first to welcome you to the neighborhood!
Got a gardening question and need answers? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer it in an upcoming column.