Presented by Jenny Peterson for Kellogg Garden Organics
Years ago, the term “organic gardening” was usually associated with people who wore tie-dye clothing and had long hair, but today, the term means something much more. Growing an organic garden continues to be a strong trend – a lifestyle that people of all ages and walks of life subscribe to. But what is it, really, and why is it a good way to garden?
The short answer is that organic gardening is gardening without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides — but rather than define something by what it isn’t, let’s take a look at what it is. Organic gardening acknowledges that everything is connected, that the garden and the plants in it are a part of a much greater system. When gardeners see this chain of connection, they understand how their garden practices affect wildlife, insects, the water supply, and their community and the people in it.
While organic gardening is more complex for production farmers, the good news is that it’s relatively easy for home gardeners.
Here are three basic ways to garden organically, in harmony with nature:
- Use plants that are recommended for your area. Native plants or plants adapted to your area are acclimated to your soil, climate, and other growing conditions — there’s a reason gardeners in the rainy Pacific Northwest don’t grow a lot of cacti. Native plants grow well and thrive without gardeners having to resort to extreme measures and lots of chemicals to keep them alive.
- Pay attention to soil health. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, and healthy plants have a much higher success rate at warding off pests and diseases. Aim to increase soil health by adding compost and other soil amendments to your existing soil, using cover crops in your vegetable garden to till back into the soil, and by using compost as a light mulch on the soil’s surface around your plants.
- Be a regular visitor to your garden. Visiting and working in your garden allows you to be more familiar with it, so you’re better able to spot potential difficulties before they blow up into big problems. Learn to recognize which bugs are good and which are bad, and hand-pick the bad ones off your plants. Pay attention to signs of over- and under-watering so you can quickly adjust your irrigation. Spot weeds that are popping up before they take over your squash and roses.