The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, 2nd Edition (A Gardener's Supply Book)
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Organic farming is about farming in an environmentally responsible way that mimics natural ecological processes focusing on water conservation, soil regeneration and biodiversity. Organic farmers are able to grow food without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. They use quality composts and rotate crops regularly nourishing the soil naturally. Because the plants are grown in healthy soil, they are better able to feed and protect themselves from pests and disease resulting in higher quality produce.
It’s important to know that in organic gardening, not all bugs are bad. In fact good insects are essential to keeping bad insect populations in check. Experienced gardeners love bugs because they know beneficial insects are an effective natural solution to garden pests.
If you need to take action because of a pest problem, soapy water or neem oil work excellent as organic pest controls. A simple solution of dish soap and water can kill 90% of the insects you spray it on. Neem oil is good because it repels insects, preventing a problem possibly before it starts. It also suppresses feeding and molting, interrupting the insects life cycle.
The best way to keep pests away is to have a healthy garden. Normally, insects will only attack unhealthy plants. Just like healthy people are less susceptible to disease, so are healthy plants. To ensure you have a healthy garden you need to focus on the health of the soil.
Good organic farming starts with good soil that is loose and not compacted, allowing it to hold a large amount of water without becoming soggy. This allows air to penetrate the soil enabling the roots to grow fast and penetrate the soil deeper.
The soil also needs to be nutrient dense to supply your plants with the food it needs to grow. Nutrients in the soil and soil texture are directly related to the soil’s concentration of organic matter. A good way to achieve a large amount of organic matter for your soil mix is having a good compost pile.
Composting is an excellent way of providing a continual supply of organic matter to your soil while reducing waste at the same time. It’s one of nature’s best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of chemical fertilizers. Using compost improves soil structure, texture, aeration and increases the soil’s water holding capacity. Organic matter in compost provides food for microorganisms, which keeps the soil in a healthy, balanced condition. Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms in the soil.
Sustainable farming is a system of production to achieve food self reliance. It’s the opposite of the ususal industrial approach to food production. The goal is to not use up resources faster than they can be replaced and keeping a sustainable balance with the growing environment. Embrace farming practices that mimic natural ecological processes. Minimize tilling and water use and encourage healthy soil by planting fields with different crops every year. Avoid pesticide use by nurturing the presence of good organisms that keep crop destroying pests in check.