Gardening - Organic gardening - is a form of gardening that uses substantial diversity in pest control to reduce the use of pesticides and tries to provide as much fertility with local sources of nutrients rather than purchased fertilizers. The term may have ironically arisen as a response to the effects observed in farming during the first half of the twentieth century and the evolving science of organic chemistry. It is said by some of its supporters to be more in harmony with nature. Organic gardeners emphasise the concept that "the soil feeds the plant".
Poppies growing amongst organically grown broad beans Poppies growing amongst organically grown broad beans
Gardening Origins - In the United States, the practice of gardening organically was greatly popularized by J.I. Rodale during the 1940s and 1950s, with his magazine, Organic Farming and Gardening (Rodale Press). Now titled simply Organic Gardening , it is currently the most widely read gardening magazine worldwide.Rodale
Soil fertility - list of Soil fertility topics Soil fertility is enriched by the addition green manures, minerals and humus. Minerals are obtained from a variety of sources, such as calcium from fossil or recently deceased shellfish, potassium from wood ash, nitrogen from the animal urea in manures or leguminous plants, and phosphorus from bone. Humus is a product of composted vegetable matter. The cellulose in humus acts like a sponge and holds moisture in the garden soil, available for the growing plants. Composting is a process by which vegetable matter (e.g., grass clippings, food waste, leaves) are allowed to be consumed by bacteria, fungi, earthworms and insects until what remains is mostly the cellulose and minerals of the original vegetable matter. This mixture is then utilized as a soil amendment.
Pest control - Biological pest control Control of animal pests can be achieved through natural methods, including crop rotation, physical removal of insects, introduction of prey species, interplanting which reduces the spread of pests and disease that agribusiness monocropping accentuates and through the use of companion planting of plants which may demonstrate pest-repellant characteristics.
Weed management - Weed control For the organic grower, unwanted plants (or weeds) are suppressed without the use of herbicides. Barriers are often used to prevent weeds from reaching the light they need to grow. Generally called mulches, they can include stones, leaves, straw or wood. Paper can make an excellent barrier which, like leaves, straw and wood, will return its cellulose to the soil. These barriers have the added effect of keeping moisture in the soil below them. Some writers even refer to soil loosened by hoeing and tilling as dirt mulch. There are many forms of tilling devices and cultivators which suppress weeds by mechanically disturbing the weeds' roots and preventing them from absorbing water and nutrients.
Guidelines and certification
See main article Organic certification
- The UK based HDRA have developed voluntary guidelines and a charter for organic gardeners and allotment holders 2, although those wishing to grow at a commercial scale (eg, organic farmers or smallholders) need to comply with the far more stringent standards laid down by the Soil Association in order to gain 'Organic' certification.
Organic gardening systems Systems of organic gardening include: biodynamic agriculture which predates organics by some 20 years, permaculture which emerged in the mid 1970's, Vegan organic gardening, which excludes the usage of animal products such as blood, fish and bone and animal manures (although composted human waste - known as humanure - is permitted) and Veganic gardening, which similarly excludes animal products but uses distinctive 'no-dig' surface cultivation methods.
For more detailed information on subjects relevant to organic gardening and farming see the list of organic gardening and farming topics. Of special relevance may be the article under organic horticulture.
Organic Crop Improvement Association ocia
Garden Organic, web site of the Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA), the main UK organic gardening organisation
Gardening the Organic Way , from Awake! magazine
Natural organic fertilizers
South East Essex Organic Gardeners, a local UK organic gardening group, site links to local example gardens as well as tips and other informative articles
Your Organic Gardening Guide - Free Articles, Tips and Resources on Organic Gardening
The Organic Veg-Edible Guide - A to Z and FAQ information
How to be an organic gardener ? Become an organic gardener
Use compost to improve the soil and help plants grow. Find out all you need to know from The Composting Association. Or treat yourself to a great new resource written by a Friends of the Earth supporter George Pilkington - Composting with worms.
Try controlling pests like slugs with water or beer-filled traps (cups sunk into the ground).
Try smothering weeds with porous plastic sheeting or cardboard which blocks out the light.
Attract wildlife that feeds on pests.You can do this by avoiding pesticides and making sure your garden is not too tidy. This will encourage wildlife to set up home.
Experiment with companion planting. Marigolds put off pests and attract useful insects. Organic gardening books list other useful plant combinations. Organic gardening is low maintenance, because by choosing the right plants for the location, planting them in beneficial combinations and mulching, you are setting the garden up to manage itself. You need to think holistically. If you get greenfly on the roses, which option would you go for: mechanical removal of greenfly at first sign a long-term solution which keeps numbers down and encourages predators or a spray? Organic gardening is about being able to tolerate the situation until you get the balance right. When you put down mulch, it can be a home for slugs and snails, but at the same time you get an increase in spiders and ground beetles. After a few years, the spiders and ground beetles are feeding on the slugs and you have them under control, but you have to resist reaching for the chemicals! The alternative is very high maintenance.
To save money, plant crops that are expensive to buy in the supermarket, rather than the cheaper, readily available crops. Go for crops that are easy to grow, like rocket and asparagus. Save on the cost of a greenhouse by growing plants that are sown directly into the ground. If your neighbour is planting French beans, you could plant runner beans and swap the surplus and watch your gardening community flourish. I definitely save money through gardening, I’m quite sure of that. Strawberries are very expensive in shops, but I eat them from the garden. It costs nothing to grow them from seed. I grow tomatoes, basil and rocket for a local restaurant and in return I get free lunches. To buy rocket in a supermarket costs about £1 for 80 grams, but it is easy to grow all year round. It is self-seeding at the moment, so it does not require any effort at all. I always have surplus seedlings and I started to pass them on to my neighbour. She then started to give me banana bread and cinnamon bread. Now I make pasta sauces for her freezer and she gives me soup. Gardening has given me a chance to get to know my neighbours and now we keep an eye on each other’s houses. I told her that I was going away on holiday and she said straightaway: ‘Ok, I’ll be sure to do the watering for you.’
Organic gardening
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