Learn Organic Gardening
Organic gardening is not a new concept. As a matter of fact, all gardening was once organic gardening. With the development of modern agriculture, new chemical formulas for fertilizers and pesticides came about, greatly improving crop yields. But, as we grow to know more about food, many have realized that these methods also deliver a less nutritious and perhaps even harmful products. This is why organic gardening has had a resurgence.
Organic gardening involves growing food in a way that is closest to the way that food would grow in nature and without the use of manmade chemicals. This process involves thinking creatively about the problems of soil nutrition, fertilization, and pest control.
Growing the same plant in the same place for many years, as traditional agriculture often does, can deplete the nutrient content of the soil in that location. Because natural nutrients are so important to organic farmers, the latter practice crop diversity and crop rotation.
Crop diversity refers to the practice of growing multiple types of crops in the same area, so that their varying nutrition needs can keep the soil rich in nutrients and support the multitude of microorganisms that have always made natural soil so fruitful.
Crop rotation involves the growing of different crops in the same area from season to season, again, in an attempt to improve soil fertility.
There is no limit to what plants can be grown organically. However, the medium must be kept in mind — many of the oversized and perfect-looking fruits and vegetables we see in supermarkets can only be achieved with a mixture of modern chemicals.
But appearances aren’t everything, and organic gardening, in addition to being a sustainable and environmentally-friendly practice, is likely to produce food that both better nutrition and a better taste profile.
Providing adequate nutrition without chemicals can be a challenge, but organic farmers have derived a variety of natural methods to get plants the nutrition they need.
The fertilizer used for organic farming is nearly always derived through the composting of plant and/or animal organic matter. Mineral powders can also be used, since they are naturally occurring. For example, greensand can be used to provide potassium, and magnesium sulfate can be used to supplement the soil’s magnesium content.
Green manure is a special type of crop that is grown exclusively for fertilization purposes. After a certain time, the crop is uprooted and incorporated in the soil, creating an organic fertilizer as it decomposes.
Together with crop rotation (see “Techniques”), these techniques provide natural solutions that can rival conventional agricultural methods.
Controlling weeds and bugs without chemicals also requires a certain degree of creativity.
Organic farmers control weeds by rotating crops and by planting cover crops unfriendly to weed growth. Tilling and mulching the areas between plants are also effective strategies. Some organic farmers even fight weeds by use grazing animals that eat weeds but not the primary crop.
Similarly, managing insect pests can be done organically by encouraging the settlement of rival insect species that do not damage the plants. Certain plants themselves can be good pest repellents — for example, basil repels flies and mosquitoes, and dill repels black bean beetles.