ORGANIC GARDENING

The objectives of organic gardening are:

  • Lower household food expenses
  • Eat more nutritious food

Basically, organic guarding is natural gardening.
Nature's way. Not man's cheap/easy/quick/destructive way.
Organic gardeners appreciate plants for their harvests - beauty to the eye; sweet fragrance for the nose - in additional to texture, taste and nutritional content when eaten.
Studies in harvest nutrition over a considerable period of time, have shown that synthecially-grown commercial harvests are demonstrating an alarming decrease in nutrition content wherever and to the degree that heavy equipment has been used extensively in farming practices.

In this author's opinion, organically-grown vegetables contain better taste too.

Undisturbed Soil is NOT Dirt

Organic gardening is about DIRT - not just soil.

Undisturbed soil is mostly mineral with usually less than 1% organic matter. Minerals are a necessary ingredient in dirt, and most undisturbed soil that can sustain grasses, does have nutritional value for other plants too, but usually not vegetable plants.
Soil is basically either sand, silt or clay as classified by taxonomy (physical texture/structure), or roughly equal parts of each in the case of "loam". But for soil science, the focus is on mineral content/structure, not any organic material contained therein.
Consumers who buy 'dirt' at a store have been 'trained' by marketing hype experts, to think that 'topsoil', or 'sandy loam' is a high-quality organic organic amendment. By soil classification standards, AND organic gardening standards, they are NOT.

Some folks think I'm being a bit "picky" in this subject, but I don't think so.
Soil needs NO air, NO water, NO microbes and NO decaying organic material (OM) to be classified as soil on the basis of taxonomy.
The majority of vegetable and ornamental plants do not grow well in 'just soil'. In this author's experienced opinion.

DIRT may include what used to be mineral soil, but the primary useful constituent in gardening media (dirt) is decomposing organic matter - plus air, water and microbes.

This author calls what he grows vegetable and ornamental plants in - DIRT. It is definitely no longer just soil, and a lot of what that dirt consists of, never was soil.
'Plain' Dirt has less than 2.99% organic material in it.
'Skinny' Dirt has 3% to 6.99% organic material in it.
'Fat' Dirt has 7% or more organic material. Very easy to remember.

'+When this author talks about 'dirt' it's 'Plain' dirt being referred to. Less than 3% organic matter content. 'Skinny' dirt and 'Fat' dirt take a lot more work to get quality compost down to the base of roots, but over time an organic gardener can accomplish that. The easiest and fastest way to get Fat dirt in a garden is to double-dig (or triple-dig), but that takes a lot of compost at one time. Most organic gardeners don't make that much compost in a short period, or have the funds to buy it if they could find it made locally.

There's enough raw organic materials 'out there' to accomplish that, but the secret to making Fat dirt that way, is compost TEA.

Different plants prefer certain kinds of Dirt, and admittedly, some can grow well in straight sand with less than 1% organic matter, with cactus and succulents as two examples, since they are good at storing water in their leaves and trunks/stems. Not much water can remain in sand. Rain leaches quickly below the root level of most plants, with the exception of some deeply-rooted trees.

Very few plants can live in 'tight' clay, since pH is usually wrong and there is very little air available because the clay particles bind so tightly together. And to a a high degree, the same is true for high-silt (rock dust) soils.

The vast majority of plants prefer 'skinny' or 'fat' dirt.

Some plants, such as tomatoes LOVE Compost - which is normally ALL organic material (depending on how the pile is built) which can hold up to 40 times its weight in water. Plants that don't like "wet feet" do not prefer to grow in pure compost.

Unless there is at least 1% organic material (OM) in soil most plants are barely 'surviving'.
There's another term called '
'THRIVE'' that should rule in the minds of organic gardeners.

Thrive

Definition of Thrive?
Look in any gardening magazine. Magazines do not show photos of 'scraggly' plants - unless an article is describing how NOT to grow a plant.

Gardening

The term 'gardening' includes turf, shrubs, trees - but is most often thought of as vegetable gardening, including herbs.

Ferilizer

Am I a strict believer in not using synthetic chemical fertilizers? No, some synthetics are useful, at certain times, for particular reasons, and in small amounts.

Fertilizing should not be done with synthetic treatments during certain times of growing seasons, and using a 'balanced' (N,P,K) fertilizer is bad MOST of the time. It is possible to kill off entire microbe populations in the ground by misuse of any synthetic fertilizer.

Pollution is another reason I don't use most synthetic fertilizers. Nitrogen is volatile - dissipates into air and leaches into water.+' However, phosphorous and potassium (potash) can build up in soil and dirt to deadly proportions quickly. It's 'rare' to have pollution buildup with nitrogen, but happens.

Yes, I know that pollution from water runoff around cattle feedlots can be a serious problem, particularly in the area of as stream or river - but organic nutrients break down much easier by microbial activity than most synthetics do.

So in the main, I greatly prefer the benefits of organic fertilizers - because used properly, they will not 'burn' plants and for other reasons too - which you can read about in More Gardening Topics.

Pesticides for Plants

Protection is better than cure, in my book.
Organic gardeners learn to keep a watch on their plants and know the stages of growth expected for a given plant during a given season.
And most good organic gardeners also know the 'seasons' of plant pests and can identify beneficial 'bugs' - versus the 'bad guys'.

Applying an "all purpose" synthetic pesticide is ALWAYS a BAD move, because they are not selective. Kills the good ones as fast as the bad ones. Nature has a system. For any plant pest, there are natural predators. Kill the predators and you're asking for pest problems.

Plant Diseases

There are diseases that affect every plant. In this case also, using non-selective synthetic controls are NOT a good idea. Being able to learn the 'language' of plants is part of being a good organic gardener.

If you know what a thiving plant is supposed to look like, it is not difficult to tell when a plant is having disease problems - so many of which are linked either to plant nutrition or soil microbiology.

Treat the plants you grow (intentionally) like you are supposed to treat your family pets - then your plants will thrive. And produce abundantly for you.

Just "throw stuff" at them because it's on the shelf of your local store - and you're 'in store' for some unpleasant surprises.

Herbicides

Plant killers. Deadly to any kind of plant. Here again, in this author's opinion, organic treatments are best. Yes, there are very rare occasions when I will utilize a glyphosate treatment (bullrush and bermudagrass are about the only two examples) - but not very often, and VERY carefully. Selectively. On a very calm day - and protect any nearby plants. About as often as I have to use a chemical to keep from getting stung by yellow jackets that insist on building a nest near my entrance door.

Weeds? Basically a dirt nutritional issue. Properly fertilize with organics, and/or use mulch appropriately and you will not have any extensive problems with weeds.

One product I am VERY much against is "Weed & Feed". Even Master Gardener Associations that promote use of synthetics are set against use of this product. But ignorant and lazy homeowners continue to buy this product. This lawn treatment product will actually kill your trees and shrubs with unmeasured or repeated applications.

PLEASE read the information in the MICROBIOLOGY section. In this author's opinion, EVERY local gardening organization should have at least one person who is an amateur soil/dirt/compost/tea microbiologist. Someone who is willing to invest $1,500 in a quality light microscope and some basic supplies to operate it properly in semi-laboratory activity - usually at home in the 'office' or den.

If anyone 'out there' has the financial wherewithall and wants to learn how to become proficient in microbiological activities to benefit ORGANIC gardeners, contact me and I'll do my best to guide you.

ANYBODY that composts can learn. Besides, every composter should become familiar with the microbes that actually do the work of breaking down the feedstocks to become good compost. Composting is the process of breeding microbes, no matter how the person goes about managing the process.

If you are curious about learning this field, investigate the differences between bacteria, fungi, actinobacteria and microarthropods. And learn something about breeding a quality earthworm (such as Eisenia Hortensis). If what you read interests you - consider learning more.

And if you're interested in making some money on a part-time basis, this is a VERY good way to do that with a very minimal investment. If you learn to do it right, it can quickly lead to a full-time profitable occupation.

Compost and compost tea are cash crops...

COMPOST CONTAINMENTS
Click Here to see: Compost Containments
COMPOST PILES
Click Here to see:COMPOST PILES