Organic gardening is a form of gardening that uses substantial diversity in pest control to reduce the use of pesticides and tries to provide as much fertility with local sources of nutrients rather than purchased fertilizers. The term may have ironically arisen as a response to the effects observed in farming during the first half of the twentieth century and the evolving science of organic chemistry. It is said by some of its supporters to be more in harmony with nature. Organic gardeners emphasise the concept that "the soil feeds the plant".


Poppies growing amongst organically grown broad beans


In the United States, the practice of gardening organically was greatly popularized by J.I. Rodale during the 1940s and 1950s, with his magazine, Organic Farming and Gardening (Rodale Press). Now titled simply Organic Gardening, it is currently the most widely read gardening magazine worldwide.[1]

Soil fertilityEdit

(see also list of Soil fertility topics)

Soil fertility is enriched by the addition green manures, minerals and humus. Minerals are obtained from a variety of sources, such as calcium from fossil or recently deceased shellfish, potassium from wood ash, nitrogen from the animal urea in manures or leguminous plants, and phosphorus from bone. Humus is a product of composted vegetable matter. The cellulose in humus acts like a sponge and holds moisture in the garden soil, available for the growing plants. Composting is a process by which vegetable matter (e.g., grass clippings, food waste, leaves) are allowed to be consumed by bacteria, fungi, earthworms and insects until what remains is mostly the cellulose and minerals of the original vegetable matter. This mixture is then utilized as a soil amendment.

Pest controlEdit

(see main article Biological pest control)

Control of animal pests can be achieved through natural methods, including crop rotation, physical removal of insects, introduction of prey species, interplanting which reduces the spread of pests and disease that agribusiness monocropping accentuates and through the use of companion planting of plants which may demonstrate pest-repellant characteristics.

Weed managementEdit

(see main article Weed control)

For the organic grower, unwanted plants (or weeds) are suppressed without the use of herbicides. Barriers are often used to prevent weeds from reaching the light they need to grow. Generally called mulches, they can include stones, leaves, straw or wood. Paper can make an excellent barrier which, like leaves, straw and wood, will return its cellulose to the soil. These barriers have the added effect of keeping moisture in the soil below them. Some writers even refer to soil loosened by hoeing and tilling as dirt mulch. There are many forms of tilling devices and cultivators which suppress weeds by mechanically disturbing the weeds' roots and preventing them from absorbing water and nutrients.

Guidelines and certificationEdit

See main article Organic certification

The UK based HDRA have developed voluntary guidelines and a charter for organic gardeners and allotment holders [2], although those wishing to grow at a commercial scale (eg, organic farmers or smallholders) need to comply with the far more stringent standards laid down by the Soil Association in order to gain 'Organic' certification.

Organic gardening systemsEdit

Systems of organic gardening include: biodynamic agriculture which predates organics by some 20 years, permaculture which emerged in the mid 1970's, Vegan organic gardening, which excludes the usage of animal products such as blood, fish and bone and animal manures (although composted human waste - known as humanure - is permitted) and Veganic gardening, which similarly excludes animal products but uses distinctive 'no-dig' surface cultivation methods.

See alsoEdit

For more detailed information on subjects relevant to organic gardening and farming see the list of organic gardening and farming topics.

External linksEdit

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