Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Organic is Easy

Pssst. I have a secret.... Organic gardening is easy!

No, seriously! Especially for urban gardeners, with our smaller gardens to care for, going organic is pretty simple.

I believe the key is to relax and start with the basics. I mean, you're not a farmer, you're not required to comply with certification standards, and you don't have to become a specialist. Just start with the simple conviction that you will grow the most nutritious foods possible without using chemicals. This means swearing off:

  1. Miracle Grow and other chemical fertilizers
  2. Roundup and other weed killers
  3. chemical insecticides

Replace them with:

  1. compost
  2. mulch and a little weed pulling
  3. a spray bottle of soapy, garlicy water

Those three changes are probably the most essential steps in going organic, and I think the rest can be learned as you go. There's far too much to learn it all in one sitting, one season, or even one lifetime! Yes, you'll run across pests that are tougher than diluted dish soap, but you don't want to spray one of the harsher mixes until you really need to anyway (because they can kill off the beneficial bugs, too). And of course "100% organic" produce is grown from certified organic seed, but you're not a farmer at risk of losing your certification because you purchased some of your seeds from Home Depot.

It's also important to appreciate quality more than quantity. Your heirloom tomato plants might not start producing fruit the size of footballs the second you put them into the ground like some hybrids, but they will have exceptional nutrition and phenomenal flavor if you keep to organic growing methods.

Finally, be forgiving of yourself. If you lose a plant to an infestation of bugs, know that this happens to all gardeners, organic or not. Do some googling to learn how to prevent them next year and chalk it up to experience. Gardening leans heavily toward trial and error, after all, no matter how many books you've read.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog this morning. I chuckled to myself though when I read how you are drinking diet-anything after suggesting not using chemicals on our plants....:)

Elizabeth said...

Ah yes, soda is a vice of mine. :) And since my throat has some sort of allergic(?) reaction to most forms of sugar, I opt for chemicals instead of corn syrup.

Soda is, however, something I eliminate from my diet when I start feeling bogged down by refined foods.