Organic Gardening Tips
With increasing awareness and general buzz about organic food, people want to know how to get organic food. When you go to the market, you might find it very expensive, so organic gardening becomes a viable alternative. Organic food production means using organic ingredients during the production process. In other words, it means you do not use chemical-based fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, or GM seeds. Organic gardening, however, is not just about adding organic fertilizers and pesticides. If you want to see positive results in your home garden, you should look at the different aspects of organic gardening, which include the following:
Maintaining Healthy Soil: Most of us mistake soil as small inorganic particles that are formed by the weathering of rocks. However, apart from these inorganic particles, soil constitutes organic matter, both living and dead. There are numerous microorganisms present in soil, the absence or dearth of which makes the soil unhealthy for plant growth.
Testing the Soil Quality: In order to maintain healthy soil, you should first test the quality of the soil present in your home garden. Search for soil testing laboratories in your vicinity, call them, and find out the procedure for testing soil there. Take a sample and get a soil quality report from the laboratory.
Adding Nutrients: The next step is adding appropriate nutrients to your soil. In the same way that you require good food, your home garden also requires excellent nutrients. Compost and organic fertilizers should be added as advised by the soil testing laboratory. Inorganic nutrients such as lava sand and basalt can also be added. You should also add organic matter such as molasses or dried grass as this helps in maintaining moisture in the soil and favors the growth of microorganisms.
Tilling: We have become accustomed to machine tilling over the past few decades. However, experts of organic gardening suggest that the best tool for tilling is the hand spade. Why do you ask? Because hand tilling retains the fundamental soil structure, which is essential for a healthy soil.
Sowing: You should use organic seeds for sowing. Nowadays, you can easily get these seeds in the market. Numerous online organic stores also sell organic seeds.
Controlling Pests and Diseases: In organic gardening, pests and diseases are controlled by using organic fungicides, insecticides, and pesticides. You can also make use of certain beneficial insects and birds that feed on the pests and control them naturally. Pests can be controlled with the help of certain trap crops, and companion planting as well. Bugs can be controlled with the help of frogs and toads.
Controlling the Weeds: Organic gardening experts often recommend organic herbicides for controlling weeds. Weeds can also be controlled by employing a process called mulching, which consists of piling up organic matter such as dry grass and leaves on the soil surface. Mulching does not allow any space for the weeds to grow.
Raised Bed Gardening
People living in low-lying areas or those having clay soil often complain that they are not able to practice organic gardening. This is because poor drainage leads to water logging in the garden.
Organic matter added to the soil does not nurture microorganisms due to excess water. Moreover, plants die due to large quantities of water, whether you practice either organic gardening or chemical gardening. This problem is also faced by people who do farming over a cemented/concrete patch or terrace.
Raised bed organic gardening is an effective solution for those who have drainage problems in their soil. Using a raised bed organic garden provides adequate drainage as well as other benefits to the gardener.
Benefits of Raised Bed Organic Gardening
What are the benefits of this technique? Some benefits of raised bed organic gardening are explained below:
Improved Soil Drainage: The raised bed allows water to pass through it and thus removes the problem of water logging.
Easier Weed Control: High plant population in the bed leaves no space for the weeds to grow. Also, the pathway is physically away from the bed, so any weeds that grow on the pathway do not affect the bed.
Reduced Soil Erosion: A permanent bed is covered with bricks or similar protection on the sides. These frames do not allow washing away of the soil and thus reduce soil erosion.
Increased Height of the Garden: Elderly and physically disabled people can benefit from the increased height of the garden as they don’t have to bend down to participate in their gardening activities.
Extended Gardening Season: A raised bed garden enables earlier planting as it warms up faster in the spring. It also stays warmer for a longer duration in fall, thereby providing an extended growing season.
Low Soil Compaction: Since there is no foot movement on the soil after the bed is constructed, soil compaction does not occur. This also requires a lower amount of soil preparation in future.
How to Prepare a Raised Bed Garden?
It is very easy to construct a raised bed organic garden. Many people build a raised bed garden on their own. Furthermore, you don’t need particularly sophisticated tools to build the raised bed. Basic masonry and gardening tools are sufficient. Also, it only takes a few days to erect it.
The different steps involved in preparing a raised bed organic garden are given below:
Site Selection: Choose the place in your garden where you would like to construct the raised bed. If you are preparing a temporary bed, its location is not as important. However, if you plan to make a permanent structure, select the site properly, since making any changes in the location later will require dismantling the entire bed along with its frame and shifting it.
Design: First, prepare a design of the bed on paper. The height, width, and length of the bed are the most crucial parameters. Frame thickness and the width of the pathways are also important.
Width: The bed can have a width of about 5 feet; however, ensure that you can reach every part of the bed from one side or the other.
Height: The height of the raised bed organic garden should be at least 6 inches so that any water drainage problems are removed. If you want to prepare the bed for old or handicapped people, you can increase the bed height to 20-24 inches.
Length: The length of the bed should be adjusted according to your requirements and the availability of space.
Pathways: The pathways should have sufficient space for you to move, and if you use a wheelbarrow, adjust the width of the pathway to accommodate it.
Frames: You should frame the bed, or else there is a high possibility that it will erode away with time or during heavy rains. Build the frame according to your initial design. Stone and bricks serve as excellent materials for framing. Rot-resistant wood can also be used for framing.
Soil: Now comes the important part of adding soil to the bed. If you add normal soil to the bed, water logging may still persist. Therefore, you should mix organic matter such as dry leaves and grass with the soil. You should also add compost and sand to the soil. While organic matter and compost will increase drainage significantly, adding a small amount of sand will ensure that the drainage problem is completely solved.
Fertilizers: Raised bed organic garden also requires adding fertilizers regularly. Therefore, you should conduct a soil test and add appropriate organic fertilizers apart from the already added organic compost.
With this, your raised bed garden is ready and you can grow vegetables, flowers, or anything else as you wish.
Most of us like to keep a lawn in our front yard. Some of us are indirectly forced to keep a lawn by neighbors or municipal authorities. Lawns are a feature for almost every house. However, do you know that the chemicals you spray on your lawn can cause you great harm. Yes, you probably already know that. Also, you may always be worried that these chemicals may harm your children whenever they play in the lawn.
Well, lawns do not serve any direct benefit to the environment, but now that you have decided to keep one, you had better shift to an organic lawn. It will definitely be of significant use to you. The benefits of keeping a lawn include the following:
Exercising Space: If you have a lawn, you don’t have to go to a nearby garden or a park for a morning walk. Furthermore, your lawn can be used for other exercises such as aerobics, free-weights, and yoga.
Relaxing Space: When you come home after a day’s hard work, you probably want to relax for a while as your day has been full of stress. Well, can there be anything more relaxing than sipping a cup of organic coffee on your organic lawn? Lawns also have a cooling effect on the atmosphere and are very comforting during the summer.
Playground: Children love open green spaces to play. This is not a new observation by behavioral scientists; if you remember your childhood memories, you will immediately agree with this. Therefore, while you are away at work, an organic lawn provides your children with an excellent playground. You can also be carefree about the safety of your children, since organic lawns are far healthier.
Party Space: You can also organize parties on your lawn or place a bouncy castle once in a while for a family get-together.
Increased Real Estate Value: When you sell your home or carry out a valuation for a home equity loan, you will get a higher value if you have a well-maintained lawn.
Stabilizes the Soil: The grass in your lawn holds the soil in place and stabilizes it. It also keeps the soil alive and healthy due to constant microbial activity.
Prevents Soil Erosion: When it rains, you have probably seen a large amount of soil eroding from an uncovered piece of land. However, if you have a lawn, there is hardly any soil erosion, even if it rains cats and dogs!
Reduces Water Run-Off: A lawn also reduces water run-off and helps to increase the water table. It also filters the water before it penetrates the soil. This water recharge increases the water table and enhances the drinking water availability to the entire society.
Protects Biodiversity: Butterflies, friendly insects, and birds are not killed, since harmful chemicals are not used.So you see, there are a number of benefits to keeping a lawn. However, a lawn maintained by using harmful chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides is unsafe for your children to play. The water recharged from a non-organic lawn is also polluted and will increase the contamination of harmful chemicals in ground water. Hence, if you have a lawn and are using chemicals for maintaining it, switch to an organic lawn immediately!