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Organic Home Gardening: Home

Daucus carota ssp. sativus, Courtesy of Flickr CC/Steven Depolo
Daucus carota ssp. sativus, courtesy of Flickr cc/Steven Depolo

Home Gardening the Organic Way

Interest in organic gardening is growing due to an upsurge in awareness among growers, gardeners and consumers of practices that respect the environment. Although pesticides have led to increased food production, less disease and lower food costs due to reduced labor, over the long term their use has had detrimental environmental consequences. The persistence of pesticides in the food chain and adverse health effects on non-target species are serious concerns. The organic methods we use for healthy plants and good soils help to restore and maintain ecological balance.

If you integrate the following cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cyclical use of resources, you will become an organic gardener.

Cultural

  • Mulch to conserve moisture, reduce weeds, and minimize leaf diseases.
  • Rotate plantings to reduce disease pathogens.
  • Use disease-resistant plant varieties.
  • Return organic matter to the soil to increase fertility and improve structure.

Biological

  • Release or simply encourage beneficial insects and mites.
  • Use native plants, as they have developed the inherent ability to resist insects and diseases and will help to promote ecological balance.
  • Include a wide variety of plantings and habitats to promote biodiversity.
Mulch to conserve moisture; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/rfduck
Mulch to conserve moisture; photo courtesy of Flickr cc/rfduck

Mechanical

  • Prune away leaves and branches that are dead, diseased or pest infested.
  • Remove weeds before they compete with desirable plantings, but keep a natural area to sustain wildlife.
  • Many pests can be trapped, hand-picked or hosed off.
  • Barrier methods such as diatomaceous earth and hardware cloth keep out slugs and small animals.

Organic Solutions to Managing Plant Health

  • Insects and mites: sulfur, soaps, oils, sticky traps, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
  • Disease: copper hydroxide, copper oxide, copper oxychloride, copper sulfate, hydrogen peroxide, lime sulfur, oils, potassium bicarbonate, sulfur
  • Herbicide: soap-based, corn gluten meal
  • Fertilizer: aquatic plant extracts, sulfur, humic acids, magnesium sulfate, micronutrients, boron, liquid fish, bone meal, well-rotted manure, wood ashes, compost tea

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Noteworthy Books on Organic Gardening