Organic gardening is the best way to ensure that no harmful chemicals or substances have gone into the fruit and vegetables you grow. As well, gardening organically means that you are gardening in a way that is natural and environmentally responsible.
Is it possible to still have delicious, healthy, pest free fruits and vegetables from your garden if you don’t use commercial chemical based fertilizers and pest control products? With organic gardening: Absolutely!
What can I use to fertilize?
Making sure that you have healthy soil is a first step in organic gardening. Always rotate your crops so that the soil will not become depleted in one area of your vegetable garden. Then one of the best ways to build up your soil is to add in compost every year. Making your own organic compost is simple and it’s free! (see our article about composting) Adding well rotted manure to your soil is another great soil builder if you don’t have enough compost or have a really large garden. For more intense fertilizing you can purchase organic fertilizers such as fish fertilizers. These won’t burn your young plants and won’t cause damage as they drain away in the earth.
What about weed control?
Make sure that you put a mulch around your plants and vegetables. A layer of straw or even grass clippings one to two inches deep on the soil around your plants will keep down the growth of weeds, reduce water loss and benefit the soil as the material breaks down over the gardening season.
How can I get rid of harmful insects?
There are so many natural predators in your garden that chemical means are really unnecessary. Organic pest control uses beneficial insects like wasps, ladybugs and green lacewings who love to devour aphids and other harmful garden insects. If aphids are very thick, then you can simply spray them off with plain water, or try mixing a gallon of water and about a half teaspoon each of pure soap and vegetable oil to use as a spray.
Nematodes which are microscopic parasites, will destroy all kinds of soil dwelling grubs and larvae and benefit your lawn and root crops. You can even inject nematodes right into the stems of plants like pumpkins and squash to stop borers.
Where can I find these beneficial insects?
They are probably in your garden already if you know where to look. But we usually don’t have enough of these helpful organic organisms. You can build up your supply by purchasing these handy bugs from garden retailers. They are shipped to you live, along with instructions and you release them into your garden!
A word of caution: Don’t make the mistake my husband did when he thought we were being attacked by tiny alligator-like insects which he found all over our fence one day. After squashing the last of them, he looked them up in a book and discovered they were lady bug larvae and would have eaten thousands of aphids!
Learning ways for gardening organically in order to have a bountiful, safe and environmentally responsible crop can be a lot of fun and will benefit your garden and the environment now as well as for years to come.