When it comes to organic gardening, people are often confused about what the term means and how it applies to native crops. So, what is organic gardening and why is it important? Organic gardening is more than avoiding chemicals, it's a way of nurturing an ecosystem in partnership with nature. Savana will provide more details in the article below.
What Is Organic Gardening?
The purpose of organic gardening is to produce food using holistic practices that reduce environmental impact and promote the growth of entire ecosystems.
Tilling the soil, using heavy equipment, and applying synthetic fertilizers and pesticides have had detrimental effects on local ecosystems. Modern organic farming attempts to repair the damage by:
- No-till/low-till soil preparation
- Cover crops/crop rotation
- Organically Derived Fertilizers
- Beneficial insects
- Supporting planting
- Soil Probiotics
How Is Commercial Organic Different From Home Organic?
To be labeled organic, commercial and other products must meet strict specifications established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1990. The products need to be grown without the use of banned substances (substances considered unsafe for people and the environment) for at least three years and are inspected annually.
When gardening at home, what is organic gardening? If you want to grow crops for personal consumption, the word "organic" is used more loosely. This is because many cultural practices involve creating an organic garden, and you can pick and choose what works best for you. It is important that you take steps to minimize your environmental impact.
Can Organic Gardeners Use Chemicals?
Organic gardening is not limited to chemical waste. While organic gardening does tend to move away from the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, there are many safe alternatives to synthetics.
Some plant species have natural defenses against disease, and these naturally occurring substances can be extracted as relatively safe alternatives to synthetic chemicals. The two most common are neem oil, which is extracted from the neem tree, and pyrethrin, which is extracted from chrysanthemum flowers. Another natural insecticide is Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium that safely kills leaf-eating insects.
Safe non-organic pesticides can be used both indoors and outdoors, such as insecticidal soap, sulfur, and sticky traps. These methods work best when used in conjunction with other methods. Use caution when spraying any chemicals or other substances that are harmful to pests with the above products.
Organic fertilizers are a safe and effective way to provide extra nutrients to your garden. Instead of targeting the plants directly, organic fertilizers help replenish the soil and are less likely to burn sensitive plants, including seedlings. Look for fertilizers backed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) seal of approval to ensure that the fertilizer is suitable for organic food production.
Can a Greenhouse be Used for Organic Gardening?
If you have or are considering setting up a greenhouse, organic gardening can be a little tricky, but it can also be beneficial. Greenhouses function as miniature ecosystems isolated from the outside world. Fungi and pests are isolated and contained, and they tend to multiply rapidly, taking advantage of higher humidity, lack of predators, and the suppression of outside factors such as wind and rain.
However, you can take steps to reduce your risk. When building a greenhouse, the use of artificial light can help improve vitality by increasing the duration and intensity of light. LED lighting is cheap, easy to install and economical. It is also recommended to use fans in the greenhouse. Fans increase airflow, eliminating stagnant "dead spots" where mold and fungus grow. Solar panels are an excellent way to run low-energy fans throughout the growing season with minimal cost or effort.
How to Plan an Organic Garden or Greenhouse?
Whether you want to start an organic garden or an organic greenhouse, planning is crucial. List the plants you are interested in growing or currently growing in the ground. Observe their growth, strengths and weaknesses. Crops that grow well in one area may not do well in another, and many problems can be avoided by growing the crops that are best for your life.
Implement Diversity and Crop Rotation
Variety is an important part of organic gardening. It mimics a more natural environment, where pests of any kind are less likely to thrive. When planning your garden, consider diversifying the number of species sharing a given space and adjusting the placement of seasonal crops each year to minimize pest buildup in the soil. Each year, keep track of where you plant your crops and, if possible, rotate crops to avoid planting the same crop in the same location as the previous year. This strategy, known as crop rotation, can greatly reduce disease risk when used in conjunction with cover crops such as alfalfa or winter rye.
Think About Companion Planting
Companion planting is another beneficial practice that takes advantage of the benefits of a diverse garden. Attract pollinators to crops by planting plants that grow well together, such as tomatoes and "Nema Gone" marigolds or corn and red beans, or including nectar-rich flowers such as borage, each grown from benefit from surrounding plants.
Be Aware of Pests and Disease
Be prepared to use a variety of strategies to fight the disease, especially in the first few years. Inevitably, some common pests like hornworms or mealworms will show up, but that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Organic gardening takes a naturalistic approach and focuses on pest management rather than eradication. Pests will decrease over time by creating a diverse garden with rich soil and plenty of habitat for beneficial insects.
Plan for Waste
Finally, it is necessary to plan for waste. While organic gardening generally produces less waste than conventional practices, the lack of toxins means leaves, twigs and cuttings can also be recycled back into the soil without harming the microbiome. In this process of recycling detritus, the organic matter of the soil is replenished by feeding beneficial microbes and creating compost.