Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pledge to Grow Sustainably For Earth Day

If you are thinking of making the switch to organic gardening, Earth Day is a great day to make it "official" and get started, especially if you are growing food that you are going to eat.

Some people think that planting more plants, fruits, vegetables, etc. actually will use more resources. But, if you practice good, basic organic gardening techniques, you will actually be helping to preserve natural resources because they require you to use less water, less chemicals, fertilizers, etc.

What exactly is organic gardening? Organic Gardening magazine offers a very simple definition. It defines organic gardeners as those who “don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants and that think of plants as part of a whole system within nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife, and even insects.”

Basically, if you begin with the premise that gardening is part of a whole system, your goal as a gardener is to minimize the disruption of the natural system and to continually replenish any resources the garden uses.

The most fundamental way to do this is to practice good, basic gardening methods. The most important of these is “feeding” the soil, by providing fertility to the soil using natural sources of nutrients whenever possible. In organic gardening, soil is the most important component. It is the source of the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.

For those who interpret organic gardening in its most literal sense, this means adding organic matter or decaying plants wastes like grass clippings, leaves, and vegetable scraps from the lawn, garden, or kitchen in the form of compost. While compost is considered the ideal organic matter for garden soil, it’s not for everybody. Organic soil amendments and fertilizers are available at local nurseries.

Other key components of organic gardening include making sure to use healthy plants because are they are less susceptible to disease, mulching, using the right irrigation system, and weeding.

Organic gardening also involves the use of natural, safe methods of pest control including crop rotation, companion planting, and introducing beneficial insects.

It’s become easier to go organic because many garden supply companies are now providing more nontoxic, natural controls for pests and disease for the organic gardener. Gardeners can also find an increased number of disease-resistance plants at local nurseries.

Check out the resources I have provided here for tips on how to get started. And think about this: You will also find that organic gardening is not only better for the garden and the environment, it also means less work for you.

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