It took thousands of years for human civilization to reach one billion people. However, in the past 300 years, the population sky-rocketed to nearly 7.8 billion.
Since then, we have constantly tried to monitor our resources and manage production scale to save for future generations and avoid a worldwide crisis. People started resorting to organic gardening methods to maximize crop yield and intensify resource management.
Currently, more than 30 million hectares of land are used for organic farming. It focuses on sustainability and is said to have less detrimental effects compared to conventional farming.
What is Organic Gardening?
In simple terms, organic gardening refers to gardening without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and feed additives for livestock. Instead, it requires the farmer to use more natural alternatives for gardening.
Although the yield in this method is lower than conventional gardening, people can sell their product at a higher price as it is natural and of better quality.
Plants in organic gardening are considered part of a more extensive ecosystem, and garden soil in organic gardening is a growing platform and a vibrant, resource-rich biome of life supporting the garden’s plants.
Beneficial insects, birds, and other garden critters depend on the plants that grow in the soil for food and shelter. All of these creatures aid in the pollination of plants, which results in the production of food for humans.
Everything works together to build a healthy habitat that protects and enriches the garden.
Organic vs. Conventional Gardening
Conventional farming aims to provide maximum yield by using pesticides and fertilizers, but the quality is often compromised during this method.
However, organic gardening relies on sustainable methods and amend the natural fertility of the farm. Some other key differences are-
|ORGANIC GARDENING||CONVENTIONAL GARDENING|
|Implements crop rotation, improves soil quality.||Soil quality is degraded due to the use of pesticides.|
|Manure and compost are used.||DDT is used.|
|Nutrient concentration is higher in foods.||Nutrients are significantly lost in some cases.|
|Free from animal cruelty||Antibiotics are injected into livestock.|
|Crops grown via this method have positive health benefits.||Crops grown by this method are bad for health.|
Origin of Organic Gardening
The term organic gardening was coined by J.J. Rodale in the mid-twentieth century. Initially, it did not gain much popularity, but now it is undoubtedly becoming mainstream to protect the environment.
Before the invention of pesticides, any sort of gardening was considered to be organic. It was only after their introduction that a distinction was made between the two.
Pests and Organic Gardens
Since we do not use pesticides in organic farming, removing pests from your garden requires a different approach. Moreover, healthy plants that haven’t been sprayed by chemicals are more resistant to pests. Just a simple spray of water may also remove some minor pests.
In some instances, the presence of a pest in a garden indicates that the environment is off its equilibrium. Gardeners in organic gardens should expect to see a few pests here and there during the year, but not in high quantities that damage the plants.
Some methods of removing pests from gardens while farming organically are-
- Gardeners may create homemade pesticide sprays by watching online tutorials. They generally compromise ingredients such as castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar.
- Various organic pest control products can also be purchased. Just make sure they have an OMRI label.
- Rotation of crops and converting infected ones into compost can also be helpful.
- Interplanting, i.e., mixed plant cultivation, will also confuse the pests and hinder them from spoiling a whole crop altogether.
Can You Start Organic Gardening with Mulch?
This is one of the best ways to start and comes with various benefits, which are discussed below.
- When insects pull mulch into the ground, they create small holes, which helps the roots absorb water and eases airflow along the way.
- Mulch also makes sure that your plants receive nutrients for the long term by providing the insects with supplies.
- Mulch also helps stabilize the soil by absorbing water and providing ‘looseness’ to the soil after it has been soaked. It provides a habitat for beneficial bacteria to grow and colonize while breaking down the organic matter’s cells.
- Mulch allows fungi to grow, which in turn helps in binding the soil together.
- Mulch will also prevent the growth of weeds. As weeds require sunlight to convert the seeds to saplings, you can stop this from happening by putting on a thick mulch layer.
Starting an Organic Garden
Clippers, Ergonomic Trowel Set, Soil Test Kit, Compost Bin, Breathable Garden Gloves, and Lightweight Watering Can
Prepping the soil
For an excellent outcome, the soil must be properly conditioned to ensure high nutrient quantity in food. Use your soil testing kit to check the quality and factors such as pH and nutrient levels.
You can also send a sample to your agricultural extension office to get it evaluated. Make sure that the soil has lots of organic matter. The ideal time for testing the soil is around fall. You then have to add manure, compost, leaves, and grass clippings to the garden.
To make good compost
Good compost should have a balanced mixture of nitrogen, water, air, and carbon-rich organic waste. You can make a small pile in your compost bin and then tip it off with layers of carbon(leaves), manure, and nitrogen.
Moreover, put a 6-7 inches thick soil layer on top to encourage microbes’ action. If your compost does not smell, then it’s a sign of its good quality. Otherwise, you will have to add more leaves to the mixture.
Choosing the right plants
Choose plants that will thrive in your habitat. Factors like moisture, light, soil quality, and drainage play an essential part.
Try to purchase seedlings that are growing without any chemical processes. Sunflowers, peas, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, pole beans, and cucumbers are ideal for beginners.
Make sure that you put enough space in between rows to facilitate airflow. Using raised beds is also a good idea as it reduces weeding and water waste.
Watering plants in the morning is typically the best choice. Mornings are generally cooler, with fewer waves, reducing the amount of water lost due to evaporation.
Plants watered in the evening remain damp overnight, rendering them more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases. You should water the roots rather than the greenery, which is easily harmed.
A drip or soak device will be a good investment. Most experts suggest significant, infrequent watering for emerging plants, roughly about one inch of water per week.
Weeds can be eliminated by the methods discussed above. Wood chips will cost you some extra money but are worth it. After this, harvest and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
There is still much debate on whether organic gardening can become mainstream.
However, environmental benefits such as water pollution prevention, toxic runoff, and production while saving the lives of critters and insects makes you feel good.
Moreover, the vegetables produced will be superior in quality.