What Is Organic Gardening? (Google / Better Gardens)

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http://titchmarsh.com/gardenextra/general-gardening/what-is-organic-gardening

What Is Organic Gardening?

More and more people are switching to organic gardening now – but exactly what is organic gardening? In this article we will look at the five vital methods that will keep your garden on the right side of the organic divide.

1. Considering The Garden As A Whole

Organic gardening takes a holistic approach, seeing the garden as one entity. Within this, different elements like soil, insects, worms, microorganisms and all of the different plants work together to create a mini ecosystem in the garden. Everything is important, not only the fruit and vegetables. Your decorative plants, trees, lawn and even your garden furniture should be treated with a view to the environmental implications of all of the choices that you make.

2. Making The Most Of Your Garden’s Strengths

All gardens have strong points and weaker points. Consider the situation, soil type, climate, neighboring environment, sunny and shaded areas, and play on the strongest characteristics of your garden as you plan its organic development.

3. Welcoming Wildlife To The Garden

Most forms of wildlife can be seen either positively or negatively. Most people welcome birds to their gardens – until they start eating all of the delicious berries. We may not like wasps but they are predators that can be very beneficial to our gardens.

In an organic garden, all pest control will be natural. This can include:

– introducing natural predators to control your pests

– keeping seedlings and vulnerable crops protected with covers or nets

– using soapy water to wash plants that are vulnerable to aphid infestations

– selecting compatible plants that will keep pests away from neighboring plants

– removing medium sized pests like slugs and certain caterpillars whenever you see them.

If you want to kill slugs and caterpillars, drowning or squishing are the most environmentally friendly methods. You can use traps for some creatures.

4. Caring For Your Soil – Not For Your Plants

The soil is the basis of your garden. To your plants, it is both their home and their main source of food. Care for the soil well and your plants will take care of themselves.

Composting and mulching are great ways to look after your soil. Compost your kitchen waste and any other compostable matter that you have in the house. Use dead plant material too. If you are trimming trees and shrubs, cut the branches small to include them. Let your compost rot untouched for a full season.

If you have a compost tub, it should be bottomless and placed on soil so that worms and friendly bacteria can enter to process the waste and turn it into a wonderful fertilizer for your garden. When it is ready it will look like fine soil. At least once a year, you can take it out from the bottom of the tub or pile and spread it around the garden.

If you use compostable materials such as bark and fallen leaves as mulch, placed on the soil between your plants, it will both control weed growth and enrich the soil as it rots.

5. Consider The Environment In Everything That You Do

Choose organic seeds and seedlings whenever you can. Avoid genetically modified plants and over-hybridized plants that are often weaker than those based on wild varieties. Even seedless fruiting varieties are unnatural and a plant whose fruit carries no seeds may not trouble to put a lot of goodness into its fruit.

When you buy fruit and vegetables at the store, buying organic will also help to keep your garden organic. Any waste from non-organic food that is added to your compost is putting traces of chemical pesticides into your garden.

Collecting rain water saves wasting valuable drinking water and may also be better for your garden. Most water from your faucets contains chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals that are added to drinking water for sanitation reasons but are not necessarily beneficial to plants (or even humans – but that is another issue!)

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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