The Easy Way To Becoming An Organic, Chemical-Free Gardener
By Laurel Bartlett on June 20, 2011
Featured Member Post
We're all pretty familiar, by now, with the idea that wasting water and using chemical fertilizers and pesticides is bad. Every year, thousand of chemicals are poured into the environment and millions of gallons of water are needlessly wasted. Sure, most of this is done by large agricultural producers, but some of it is still done in personal gardens, perhaps in yours! So what if you'd rather not garden with chemicals and participate in wasteful practices? Sounds like a lot of trouble, right? Organic gardening seems like a term fraught with complication and pain-in-the-ass rules to learn and follow. You don't have to be an expert gardener to have an organic garden. And, you don't have to spend all day in your garden chasing away pests and hovering over your plants to make sure they survive. It's not as hard as you think to get started with the basics.
There are some simple changes you can make to become a more organic gardener with minimal effort:
Plant Choice:You've probably heard the phrase "grown locally" and maybe you even know that you should try to buy fruits and vegetables grown in your region. But not all types of plants are suited for the area in which you live. Sure, you can set up an expensive green house or even control the temperature, humidity, and rain conditions inside your house, likely can't get these plants to thrive outside without more water, more care and strong fertilizers and pesticides. Growing native plants means they will thrive in your garden with less need for water and chemical fertilizers or pest control.
The best source of information on plants native to your area is your local county extension office.
Pest Control:There are several ways you can go here. The "half-assed" way is to purchase any number of products someone else created from safe ingredients. (And no, the lady bug is not a bug you want to kill, but it's the most attractive garden bug, so he said I could use his photo as long as I mentioned you shouldn't kill him.)
But, you could also find out which of the plants native to your area are naturally pest repelling and plant those around your garden to help keep pests away. Again, your local extension office will likely be able to help you find out which plants are good choices for you.
You can also make your own pest repelling sprays from essential oils or from plants you grow yourself. Many herbs like hot pepper, vanilla, and lavender can help repel insects from your garden.
Pull Weeds:I know. I know! Manual labor? Surely not. It's sad but true: the best way to get rid of weeds is hard labor. I hope and pray for the magic weed fairy to come and take my weeds away in the dead of night, but until she grants my wish, there really isn't a safer way to get rid of weeds. If you take just five orten minutes every day, it seems like much less hassle than doing it for a couple hours once a week. You could try bribing your kids to do it, if you have them (I don't know about you, but that's why I had kids; cheap manual labor).
Crop Rotation: This is a fancy term for "plant it somewhere different from last year." It's not complicated if you follow this handy guide for which common veggies belong to the same family. The big-time farmers move entire fields of plants from year to year, to help maintain nutrient rich soil and even promote pest and disease resistance. All this means less pest control, less need for fertilizer and less work! All you have to do is plant the carrots where the peas were last year and the onions where the lettuce was... you get the idea.
See, it's not complicated, it doesn't have to take up your life. You can easily adopt these methods all at once or gradually as you go. If you're way into doing everything super gung-ho (in which case I have to ask why you'd read my blog, since I'm all about minimal effort and simplifying everything), there's tons more you can learn and do in each of these areas (but you'll have to Google it, I don't have the time or desire to get into it) — but these are the basics, the stuff that can get you started on your way to organic gardening with minimal effort.
(Originally posted on half-assedgranolagirl.com)
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