The main difference between Organic Gardening and conventional gardening is that in organic gardening, no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides are used. Unfortunately this means that more care has to be taken to control and prevent disease, insect infestation and weeds. The soil also needs attention to maintain the minerals and nutrients that give life.
Soil and Compost:
Organic gardening starts with the soil so let’s start from the bottom up. It’s necessary to amend your planting soil with organic matter regularly otherwise your soil will not be productive. This consists of compost which is essential for the well – being of your plants and crops that are being cultivated.
Compost may consist of: leaves, vegetable scraps, manure, dead flowers, fruit rinds, grass clippings, food waste and so on.
Composting is a primary means of down-cycling waste organic matter.
The ideal soil has a semi -sweet smell, it should be dark in color and should contain earth worms. It is a good idea to test the PH balance of your soil. Then you will know what other nutrients you may need. Common additives are: phosphate, bone meal, rock, greensand.
The best way to keep pests away is to take preventative measures. Make sure your plants are healthy and not too wet or too dry. Insects and diseases prey on weak life force. This is similar to a person’s physical and mental health. Illness arrives when the immune system is weak. When plants are healthy they can often combat and outgrow minor infestation.
Bugs aren’t all bad. In fact 80% of bugs are beneficial to your plants, much like the beneficial bacteria in a person’s body. It’s actually a good idea to entice the beneficial bugs (insect predators in general): Lady bugs, preying – mantis, lizards, frogs, birds, into your garden. An effective way to invite the insect predators is to have a water source close by and/or by growing plants and fruits which contain nectar.
Sticky traps are also a means of preventing infestation. But in case your plants already have disease and infestation, you can use a blender to mix your own organic pesticides. I have a couple of recipes in previous articles, but briefly—they contain hot green peppers, orange or lemon, insecticidal soaps, garlic. Throw these in your blender with two cups of water. Blend thoroughly, leave overnight, then spray both sides of the foliage.
Note: This may not kill the bugs, but it will definitely prevent them from harming your plants.
The preventative approach applies to weeds as well. Starting from the bottom up, Mulch is a great way to keep your soil fertile, but to keep a barrier between the weeds put a layer of Cardboard between the ground and your fertile soil. Cornmeal gluten will also slow the growth of weeds if applied early in the season prior to planting. If in case you already have weed infestation you MUST use an organic remedy otherwise the poison in the ingredients will stay in your soil and you no longer have an organic garden. There are simple recipes that you can make yourself with household ingredients such as: Vinegar, salts and soaps. These will start working in about three hours and completely biodegrade within forty-eight hours. Be sure to spray only the weeds on both sides of the foliage. Remember, pulling weeds out by hand is not a good idea because to kill the weed you must kill the root as well as the seed. The best way is to deliver their poison is through the foliage. Also check OMRI registered pesticides. They are certified organic products you can buy.
Organic gardening definitely has its benefits although it requires a little bit more care and expertise. But once you figure out a few basics and use common sense you will be gratified as well as live healthier.
Happy Gardening –
By – Aaron Ohan