Growing vegetables or fruit in your garden without pesticides requires knowing about the best organic pest control. Of course, it is only natural that every garden is prone to bugs and pests that can damage crops. With the proper pestRead more
Organic Vegetable Garden Many home gardeners are making the switch to organic gardening methods. Growing organic vegetables means reaping the benefits of bountiful, fresh, tasty, healthy organic produce – which has been cultivated without using any chemical synthetic pesticides orRead more
Good quality organic soil and fertilizers are the foundation of any type of organic gardening. Well-fertilized organic soil contains all the nutrients needed to grow delicious fruit and vegetables. An organic garden with excellent soil structure that is rich inRead more
What is Organic Gardening?
The term “organic gardening” simply refers to maintaining a garden entirely without the use of harmful chemicals and synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. The organic gardener relies on “Mother Nature” and natural gardening practices to help the garden flourish using the immediate environment’s resources to maximize growth, repel pests, and maintain optimal plant health. A thriving, successful organic garden naturally replenishes all of the resources the garden consumes. In a symbiotic relationship.
The Focus of Organic Gardening is Fourfold:
1/ Nourishing the soil
2/ Plant choice
4/Taking a simpler human approach
Organic gardening represents a significant shift in how we grow our food and other plants, as well as how we care for the earth and its natural resources.
What are the Benefits of Growing an Organic Garden?
Organic gardening delivers a wide array of benefits that far exceed any benefits of conventional, non-organic gardening practices. These extend to the natural environment and the health and well being of the animals and humans that live near and consume the produce from the garden.
These benefits include:
- Personal satisfaction and well being
- Biodiversity preservation
- Enhancement of natural ecosystems
- Waste reduction
- Less pollution
- Energy savings
- More nutritious produce
- Tastier produce
- Attract and support native pollinators
- Naturally repels pests
- Saves money
- Protects the natural environment
- Actively live more sustainably
How do I Start an Organic Garden?
The first step is to prepare your organic soil, which is rich in nutrients and free of harmful additives and chemicals. By making compost and choosing fertilizers and soil additives based on animal manure, fish waste, mushroom compost, lucerne, pea straw, or blood-and-bone, you will provide balanced nutrition for your garden, as well as attract beneficial worms and fungi to your little garden ecosystem.
Choose the right plants. Select organic, untreated seeds which are open-pollinated or heirloom varieties. Never use genetically modified or engineered seeds. Choose plants to suit your local climate and season, including Native varieties which will thrive when appropriately selected. Consider pollinator-attracting plants as well as plants to actively repel pests. You want to be attracting and encouraging the resident populations of beneficial bees, butterflies, spiders, birds and other creatures to provide natural pollination, pest control, and establish a self-sustained ecosystem.
Explore the benefits of companion planting and maximize the productivity of your garden year-round.
What is Organic Garden Soil?
Organic gardening uses natural processes to improve the quality of the soil so that the plants which grow in it are resilient, healthy, and resistant to disease and pests. Organic garden soil is the cornerstone of organic gardening – and it is rich in synthetic and chemical-free organic matter.
Organic matter is made up of dead plants, animals, and insects, and the organisms which help them decompose. These include fungi, bacteria, earthworms, and other critters. The carbohydrates and proteins within plant remains ultimately decompose into natural, simple chemical components as well as resistant humus, which is a dark brown material representing larger leftover organic fragments. The humus particles attract nutrients and bind minerals which make soils easier to cultivate.
Is Organic Soil Better than Regular Soil?
The right kind of soil is crucial for your garden. Soil types include:
Topsoil – the basic dirt you dig up anywhere, including in your backyard. Its composition is particular to its location and dependent upon the types of plant matter, rocks, and minerals that have contributed to its formation over many years.
Enriched Topsoil – a mixture of topsoil and organic matter, it is not specifically designed for gardening, and not necessarily “organic”. It is better for growing plants than basic topsoil.
Potting Soil – a blend of inorganic and organic materials designed to suit growing plants, providing drainage, aeration, and nutrition.
Gardeners generally use potting soil for cultivating their garden as topsoil products tend to be too heavy and dense for plants to thrive. Potting soil delivers the ideal environment for root development and nutrition.
Organic soil is created using natural, chemical-free organic matter including manure, compost, worm castings, etc. It is free of herbicides and pesticides. The result is organic plants that are healthier and which tend to be tastier and more nutritious.
What is Organic Compost?
Composting is an essential component of organic gardening and, unlike chemical fertilizers, organic compost is high in minerals, micro nutrients, and beneficial organisms which help your garden thrive for long-term, robust growth. While synthetic fertilizers do give a sudden boost to trigger growth, they also harm earthworms and other soil organisms, and cause ongoing damage to the soil ecosystem.
Compost is made of organic material, but not all compost is “organic”. Genuinely organic compost is 100% free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, as well as free of any non-organic compound.
Consider the following in terms of organic compost component materials:
- Grass clippings must be from lawns untreated with synthetic fertilizer, weed killers, or pesticides.
- Garden waste must derive from untreated organic green material.
- Manure must be from organically fed livestock.
- Use only plant meal (from soy, alfalfa, cotton or canola crops) that is organically grown.
What is Organic Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is a nutrient added to soil to boost its fertility and improve the growth and health of plants. Plants require several essential elements which they derive directly from the soil:
- Trace amounts of copper, iron, cobalt, boron, manganese, chlorine, iodine, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc.
Fertilizers replace these essential elements if the soil is deficient in them.
Organic fertilizer is made from plant or animal-based materials. These are the product of natural processes, including composted organic materials or in animal manure. They are produced naturally and contain carbon.
Some examples of organic fertilizers include:
- Livestock manure
- Guano (bat droppings)
- Organic Compost
- Organic bio solids/treated sewage sludge/ slurry
- Plant-based fertilizers
- Chicken litter
- Seaweed extracts
- Crop residue
- Blood meal or bone meal
- Fish emulsion
All must be derived from sources not tainted by chemical or synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.
What is Organic Garden Pest Control?
Pest control is crucial for the ongoing well-being of your garden and your crops.
Organic pest control is a means of controlling pests that does not rely on chemical or synthetic pesticides, but rather natural substances, practices, and even the garden itself.
Common garden pests include aphids, snails, slugs, caterpillars, beetles, mealybugs, scale bugs, moths, earwigs, fruit flies, grasshoppers, tree borers, weevils, grubs, thrips, and many more.
Organic pest control for your garden may take many forms, including but not limited to:
- White vinegar
- Beer (great for capturing and humanely eliminating snails and slugs)
- Boiling water
- Mixture of vegetable oil and organic dish soap
- Lime sulphur
- Neem Oil
- Kaolin Clay
- Organic Plant Oils – orange oil, soybean oil, mustard oil, canola oil
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Milky spore
- Worm castings/vermicast
You can also sow specific plants to attract beneficial insects, which attack and feed on other pests. These beneficial garden helpers include praying mantis, ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps, and ground beetles.
Companion planting can be an effective pest control strategy to maximize available space, control pests, and improve the productivity of your crops. For example, plant leeks to protect carrots; plant radishes to protect lettuces from earth flies and repel mice with a row of daffodils. Chrysanthemums repel a lot of flying insects and flush out grubs and larvae. Garlic deters beetles, as do fever-few, penny-royal, and tansy.
Some plants are effective trap crops to attract pests away from more valuable plants. These should be interspersed between your other plants. For example, plant marigold to attract snails away from your vegetables and herbs – then remove the snails by hand.