Organic Garden Practices

Using natural practices to create healthy environments

By definition, the word "organic" means "relating to or derived from living matter." In order to be sealed with the USDA organic sticker, produce must have been grown on soil that has not been treated with synthetic fertilizer for at least three years. Organical famers use natural substances as much as possible. What this means for the home gardener is that gardening organically is easier and less expensive than not.

Growing a truly organic garden requires some thought and mindfulness from the gardener. All materials used should be as close to naturally from the earth as possible. Purchase organic soil and plant in raised beds in order to ensure your crop will be healthy. Plants need healthy soil to grow and thrive, and it can be timely to test your backyard soil, so it is better to purchase your soil from a trusted distributer.

When fertilizing, consider the source. If using manure, make sure it comes from organically fed livestock, preferably local.

Organic gardens have to start somewhere. Buy seedlings that were organically raised, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Without the help of pesticides, it helps to have a green thumb, or especially easy crops to grow. Tomatoes, beans, zucchini, swiss chard, sugarsnap peas, carrots, radishes, and mushrooms are all great starters for a beginner gardener. Save the seeds from this year's crop to be used again next year.

To save water, use recycled rainwater. Not only does this promote a healthy ecosystem, but it will come as close to air temperature as possible, which plants prefer.

Weeding by hand is absolutely essential to an organic garden. Eliminating weeds through chemical use defeats the purpose of an organic garden and cancels out any and all hard work. Plus, getting outside and tending to a garden the natural way will help a gardener get more exercise and fresh air!

The same goes for dealing with pests. Releasing natural predators like frogs, ladybugs, and birds into a garden can help solve the problem of predators, naturally. Purchase cans of ladybugs at a local nursery and set out water to attract birds and frogs. Make sure the water is emptied and replaced regularly to avoid attracting mosquitos.

Going organic can be a longterm health investment. The compounds that organically grown plants produce in order to survive can provide health benefits for humans, as well. In an interview with NPR, Carlo Leifer, a professor of agriculture at Newcastle, said that going organic provides "significantly higher amounts of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids."

At NGC, we encourage clubs and individuals to practice organic gardening not only to benefit their own health, but to promote a healthy and safe environment.

For more information, contact:
Barbara Shepard, Chairman: Organic Garden Practices