Like the word natural, the word organic gets tossed around a lot. But what does it mean to be organic in the garden?
A starting definition is gardening without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. But organic gardening really means a holistic emphasis on a healthy ecosystem.
Organic gardens cultivate an ecosystem that sustains the life of plants, soil microbes and helpful insects. Instead of delving into a never-ending cycle of shocking the system with fertilizer and then pesticides, organic gardeners understand that healthy plants are strong and much more disease-resistant. The focus reaches beyond just making plants grow in the short term; rather it realizes that a vigorous garden is a side effect of a healthy ecosystem.
The soil is the base of a healthy garden and dealing with soil properly can prevent many issues. So, organic gardeners make sure the foundation of the garden is correct. They add organic fertilizer and compost to the soil to ensure it’s able to retain water and provide adequate nutrients to plants. In summary, organic garden soil contains the right trace elements, low-release organic fertilizers, proper pH, is aerated and contains plenty of compost.
Now, pest control is something all gardeners encounter. Yet, organic gardeners use techniques to keep pest damage below a certain threshold. Rather than inciting a mass killing of all non-plant life by drenching the garden with chemicals, they find a simple solution for the pest at hand. For example, cabbage worms can be plucked off leaves and killed, and aphids can be sprayed off the plants with a hose. These methods require attentiveness and ensure that small issues don’t turn into big issues.
Natural pesticides, found in a garden center or made at home, can be applied to plants too. They tend to break down much more quickly than synthetic mixes, so gardeners must be conscientious about reapplication.
Other good gardening practices include planting native or pest and disease-resistant varieties, providing plants adequate spacing and matching the plant to the right site, one suited for its light and moisture needs. Basic good gardening practices will reduce chances of disease as plants are set up from the start for success.
With good gardening practices, going organic isn’t difficult or complicated. It calls for attentiveness, simple solutions as problems arise and an appreciation for a healthy ecosystem. Keep these principles in mind and watch your organic garden flourish!