Organic gardening emphasizes cultivating your garden so that it sustains enriching soil, plants and beneficial insects. This is achieved by avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and using products that nurture your garden soil and the organisms in it. When you embrace the organic gardening philosophy, your plants experience a balanced and nourished ecosystem that works as nature intended.
Creating Healthy Soil
Organic products are ideal for your landscape, because they feed the soil, creating a sustaining environment. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants.1 But when you garden organically, you do much more than nourish your plants.
As in nature, an organic soil alive with microbes and fungi releases nutrients slowly to plants. By enriching the soil with organic supplements and encouraging the growth of naturally occurring beneficial organisms, you give your plants the tools they need to access nutrients in the soil and the strength to protect themselves from harmful pathogens and pests. Take the natural approach and amend with soil conditioners, such as earthworm casting, which add organic matter, including humid acid, and desirable microorganisms to your garden soil. This helps make soil borne nutrients, such as iron, more available to plants.
Gypsum is a soil additive that helps to loosen compacted soil and promote root growth while enriching the soil with calcium and sulfur. Gypsum also improves soil structure.
Organic gardening also calls for adding homemade or bagged compost to the soil. This improves the overall soil structure by increasing organic matter, which enhances nutrient release to plants and increases water retention. Adding compost also reduces runoff and erosion, and suppresses certain diseases.
Nutritious “Food” for Plants
High-quality organic fertilizers are the products of natural decomposition and are easy for plants to digest. Made from natural sources, organic fertilizers provide garden plants with slow-release, consistent nourishment. Such a “health food” diet makes your plants strong and self-sustaining. Rather than depend on you for feeding them a steady supply of synthetic fertilizers, they find what they need in soil that has been fed with organic fertilizer.
Organic fertilizers that feed the soil and sustain plants include animal waste and byproducts, such as bird and bat guano, blood meal, bone meal and feather meal, as well as fish and kelp fertilizers
Most organic fertilizers are low in nutrients, which is why the NPK macronutrient ratio (nitrogen, phosphate and potassium) printed on product labels generally consists of numbers below 10. The gentle nature of organic fertilizers also means they won’t burn plant roots or foliage like chemical fertilizers can.
Organic Pest and Disease Management
Organic gardening takes a gentle approach to dealing with pests and diseases. This method includes taking steps to prevent pests and diseases before they occur, and using mild control methods and products.
One of the least invasive prevention and control methods for pests and diseases is inspecting plants for problems, and then physically removing any pests or diseased areas found. This works well when a plant has a limited amount of problem areas. Organic gardening also uses exclusion methods to keep pests and diseases at bay. This includes covering plants with lightweight, spunbonded fabrics known as row cover.