Most people are unable to control the type of soil in their gardens. In fact, the majority of us have to painstakingly work at and fertilize our soil on a regular basis just to obtain a reasonably rich growing medium. This, however, may not be safe for the soil or the plants. Using chemical fertilizers and other products in order to get a manageable soil can damage the soil’s friability, make certain crops more vulnerable to diseases, and prevent plants from absorbing much needed minerals. They can also harm beneficial earthworms and other insects. Plants grown with chemical fertilizers can also have less nutrient value than those grown organically.
No matter what kind of dismal soil you have, it can easily be transformed into a healthy, high-yielding, manageable growing soil simply by composting. Many people have misconceptions when it comes to composting. They believe that a compost pile will take a lot of time and effort. They feel that it will smell bad and attract unwanted animals. However, assuming that the composting process has been done correctly, none of these reservations are justified. In fact, there are numerous benefits associated with using compost in the garden. Compost enhances the physical structure of soil. Compost also has the ability to stabilize soil pH levels. The addition of compost provides greater drought resistance and more efficient water consumption. Using compost allows plants to more effectively utilize nutrients, enabling them to retain these longer. Although often seen as a good source of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, compost is also a good source of micro-nutrients, which are essential for plant growth. Micro-organisms play an important role in organic gardening as well. They are not only found within compost but thrive within the soil. Sufficient levels of organic matter encourage the growth of earthworms too, which increase water infiltration and aeration. Composting also helps suppress certain soil-borne plant diseases.
Composting organic waste has been practiced for years. Most composting material is made up of leaves, annual plants and small prunings, grass clippings, and kitchen or garden waste. Suitable scraps include vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. Bones and meat products should never go in the compost pile. The compost pile should be located away from view but within easy access from the kitchen. These can generally be constructed easily and inexpensively from items you may already have on hand such as wire fencing, cinder blocks, bricks, lumber, wooden pallets, etc. Keep in mind that both moisture and good aeration are extremely important for composting; therefore, make certain that there is adequate drainage and air flow at the bottom of the compost pile. Compost piles should be kept wet but not soggy. To help break down organic materials, use a pitchfork or other suitable tool to occasionally turn the compost, mixing it up. Poking holes throughout the pile with a stake can also help with aeration. The composting process can take place slowly or within weeks, depending on the materials used, their size and quantity, and how they are mixed together.
Implementing organic gardening techniques, such as composting, is not only a safer alternative to gardening with chemicals but can greatly reduce the amount of time spent on garden maintenance. Composting is also a great way to recycle lawn and garden waste as well as kitchen scraps. Organic gardening also includes the use of natural solutions for pest problems as opposed to chemical ones. Applying chemical insecticides can kill more than pests. It can also wipe out beneficial insects and reduce the yield of many plants and vegetables. Mulch is also widely used in organic gardening, especially those which are organic themselves, such as newspaper, shredded bark, or pine needles. Mulch retains soil moisture and eventually breaks down, adding additional nutrients to the soil. The use of mulch will also minimize the growth of weeds.
Another form of organic gardening is called ï¿½vegan organic gardening.’ Vegan gardeners produce organically grown gardens and crops in the same fashion; however, they do so without using any type of manure or products associated with the use of animals. Vegan organic gardening does not allow the use of materials such as blood, fish and bone meal, or other animal manures because the production of these is viewed as either harming animals directly or is associated with the use of animals for food and leisure activities. With vegan organic gardening practices, the soil fertility is maintained by the use of green manures, such as clover, and composted vegetable matter.
Shallow cultivation, delicately turning the soil’s surface, is popular with organic gardening as well. Shallow tilling disturbs the soil less and helps it to maintain a healthier quality that will better support the growth of plants and minimize the likelihood for soil and plant diseases or insect pests. Shallow cultivation also allows rain to penetrate the soil surface more easily. One good way to till less is by implementing raised beds within the garden. Raised beds not only cut down on maintenance but have looser soil, which is ideal for root crops, and provide a more optimum soil environment for root growth. Raised beds are filled with soil that has been amended with compost to further improve its soil structure and drainage.
Organic gardening is an easy, low-maintenance alternative for growing a healthy garden without the use of chemical fertilizers or insecticides. The objective is to achieve healthy soil, which is the foundation of every successful garden. A soil rich in organic matter is alive with micro-organisms and can support more plant life. Your plants will grow more vigorously, taste better, and resist insect attacks and disease much easier.