|Home gardeners who want to try their
hand at growing organic vegetables
should lower their expectations just a little and be prepared to put in
more "sweat equity."
Growing organic vegetables takes extra planning. If you use organic
fertilizer sources or organic soil amendments, these need to be
tilled into the
garden well in advance to be effective. (Ideally, this process should
begin in the fall prior to spring planting.)
Organic amendments don't provide nutrients as quickly as synthetic
fertilizers. So, if you want to gain the benefits of organic
fertilizers, give them plenty of
time to decompose. Soil microbes
have to convert them into a form that plant roots can absorb. An added
benefit of organic amendments is that they can act as a slow-release
fertilizer throughout the season. This improves soil structure.
Growing organic vegetables takes extra work. Since you won't have the
option to "shoot first and ask questions later" with herbicides and
insecticides, you will need to spend extra time and energy in your
Weeds must be
hoed. Mulch must be applied to prevent weeds.
Disease or insect damage must be pruned away from plants.
The key is to
catch all of these problems as early as possible to prevent them from
becoming bigger problems and spreading throughout the garden
Organic gardening requires homework. You must become familiar with
common garden problems and be able to tell the "good bugs" from the
"bad bugs." The last thing you want to do is get rid of beneficial bugs
like lady beetles that actually help control aphids, mites and other
Don't Have To Look
Growing organic vegetables requires the gardener to lower his
expectations. To understand my point, go to the produce section at your
local grocery store and watch customers pick through a pile of tomatoes
or apples in search of that one spotless specimen.
Unfortunately, I think we are all habitually programmed to do this.
When growing organically, you can't be that picky. Small spots and
blemishes can be easily cut off of fruits or vegetables. Appearances
don't affect taste, especially if the produce is headed for a casserole
Here are a few more tips for the novice organic gardener:
• Get your soil tested by taking a sample to the local
office. This is the most important thing to do first.
• Start small and increase garden size each year as you become
more comfortable with organic techniques.
• Use basic cultural control options like mulching, pruning,
spacing, crop rotation, using resistant varieties and planting at the
• Clean equipment periodically. A 10-percent bleach solution
pruners and other tools after cutting away diseased plant material will
minimize the spread of diseases.
• Water plants as needed and only in the early morning. This
prevent diseases and develops strong, deep root systems.
you have gardening questions, call your local Extension
to speak to a certified Master Gardener. These volunteers are trained
to help you solve gardening problems.
|How to Grow an Organic Garden
Scott Meyer, editor of Organic
Gardening magazine shows how to plant and nurture an organic
On-farm research in Georgia and the Carolinas has demonstrated that
farmers in the Southeast US farmers can grow organic peanuts and yield
a respectable 3,000 pounds or more per acre. But it takes some
careful planning and intensive production practices to make it work. Here's
Pugliese, University of
How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts,
Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on
Less Land Than You Can Imagine
Organic peanuts grown in Georgia
Plant and Nursery Catalogs
The term organic gardening was first used in
the United States by J.I. Rodale about 1940. The foundation of organic
gardening is the use
of composted organic matter to keep soil healthy and productive.
What is organic matter?
once living material thoroughly decomposes under healthy conditions, it
is called compost. Some examples of compost are decomposed grass
clippings and cow manure. Naturally decomposed material like
sphagnum peat moss is also organic matter.
Organic matter helps the soil act like a sponge to retain moisture in a
way that is usable for plant growth. It also
improves drainage, allowing the soil spaces to hold some oxygen for
healthy root growth.
is a legal term. The Organic Foods
Production Act of 1990 governs the use of the term certified
organic when the sales of products are involved. Its rules usually
exclude the use of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, but
allow for pesticides and fertilizers derived from naturally occurring
materials, with some exceptions to both rules.