Practising Organic Gardening- 102

Practising Organic Gardening- 102

In the previous article we discussed the basic components of organic gardening, like, organic fertilizers, organic pesticides, water conservation methods etc. In this write up we will discuss at length about mulching, composting, crop rotation and companion gardening.

  • MULCHING:

The main function of mulches is to cover the soil and help enrich and insulate them. They are used for a variety of reasons, some of them being:

Mulching bed around the house and bushes, wheelbarrel along with a showel.

Mulching bed around the house and bushes, wheelbarrel along with a showel.

  • Conserves soil moisture
  • Prevent and control weed propagation
  • Traps heat
  • Prevents soil erosion
  • Protects plant roots from extreme temperature

Mulches serve as a physical barrier that dissipates the chances of soil being washed by rainwater. It also serves as a vapour barrier and prevents the loss of soil moisture by evaporation.

Types of mulches: Materials commonly used for mulching are as follows:

  • Rocky mulch(small to big stones)
  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Bark chips and sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Pine straw
  • Wool
  • Cardboard
  • Animal manure
  • Pebbles
  • Grass clippings

 

  • COMPOSTING:

Composting refers to a process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil called compost which enhances the quality and texture of the soil. The plant and animal matter are further decomposed by micro-organisms into rich, organic material called ‘humus’ which provides the soil with the nutrient required by the plants.

 NOTE: You can buy compost bins from our online store – wide variety available.

Compost also known as ‘black gold’, serves as an organic fertilizer. It can easily replace the task of an artificial fertilizer. It enriches the soil with inorganic nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, all of which is required for plant growth. Compost has lots of minerals and micro-nutrients in an easily accessible form for plants.

compostbin

compostbin

What to compost and how to compost?
Composting can be carried out in an enclosed compost bin (plastic or wooden), where our kitchen waste, lawn and garden debris are dumped and broken down into rich, dark organic material. The compost bin needs to be perforated with holes for proper aeration.

All compostable materials are either nitrogen or carbon based, to certain degrees. The key to making a healthy compost pile is to maintain the ration between these two elements i.e. the greens (nitrogen rich) and the browns (carbon-rich). An approximate ratio of greens:brown is taken as 1:3 for best results.

Greens consist of moisture laden materials like grass clippings, green leaves, vegetable scraps etc; while browns include woody materials like branches, stems, pieces of wood, bits of paper, dried leaves etc.

compost do's and dont's

compost do’s and dont’s

Types of composting:

  • Backyard composting: composting carried out by using proper balance of greens and browns is known as backyard composting. It is the kind of composting we discussed above.
  • Vermicomposting: process of composting using different kind of worms like white worms, red wigglers and other earthworms which decompose vegetable matter and food waste to form a heterogeneous mixture of organic materials.
before and after of composting

before and after of composting

Besides working as a natural fertilizer, compost also helps in waste management. Kitchen and garden waste can be easily cultivated into compost and this leaves us with little or tension about dumping the waste in garbage bins.

NOTE: You can buy vermicompost online from the GreenMyLife garden store.

  • CROP ROTATION:
crop rotation plan

crop rotation plan

The best way to ensure the health of plants in organic gardening is achieved by crop rotation. In crop rotation we rotate plant families from one season to the next. So, related plants are not planted on the same spot for more than three years. Crop rotation serves the purpose of maintaining the balance of nutrients, micro organisms and organic matter necessary for a soil to be healthy.
Let’s take potato as an example. While growing potatoes, over a course of a season, scabby skin patches causing fungi and tiny nematodes may proliferate in the soil. If we plant potatoes again in the same spot, these pathogens will be ready to attack the crop. But if we plant an unrelated plant in this spot, it may deprive the potato pathogens of their host plants, thus causing the destruction of these pathogens. It should be noted that no plant from the same botanical family as that of potato, because the pathogens may attack them as well.

Benefits of crop rotation:

  • Balances soil fertility – Different plants have different nutrient requirements. Thus, by employing crop rotation we can reduce the chance of particular soil deficiencies. By avoiding planting the same general category of plants successively in the same area we can keep the soil nutrients balanced.
    We must alternate nitrogen-fixing legumes (peas and beans) with nitrogen-loving plants (lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes). Also, follow the heavy feeding crops with light-feeders.
  • Disease and pest prevention: specific pests and diseases attack specific family of plants. So by adopting crop rotation, we rotate crops in between spots and this way, pests tend to decline in the absence of its host plants. This helps us to reduce the build-up of such pathogens and pests.
  • Weed control: crop rotation also facilitates weed growth control. Crops like potatoes have dense foliage which doesn’t allow weeds to grow. Hence, reduces weed problems in following crops.
  • COMPANION GARDENING:

Companion gardening, as the name suggests, means planting different crops in proximity to ensure pest control, pollination, increase the productivity of the crops.

Companion-Planting

Companion-Planting

Benefits and examples:

  • Companions use garden space efficiently: the shorter creepers grow as ground covers while the taller ones grow upright.
  • These plants prevent pest infestations: some plants repel pests; eg: onions
  • Companion plants help each other grow: taller plants give shade to shorter ones
  • They attract beneficial insects and birds: intelligent gardeners always pair pest-sensitive plants with plants that attract pest-predators.
companion gardening

companion gardening

Best companion examples:

Cabbage and tomatoes
Pepper and pigweed
Roses and chives
Corn and beans
Raddish and spinach
etc

NOTE: You can buy seeds online from our garden store – all of the above seeds are available with us.

So, we see that over all, organic way is the best way. Opting for organic gardening can be fruitful in so many ways. Let’s begin now, let’s take a pledge to go the organic way for once, to realize how enriching it turns out to be!

Happy gardening!

Organic Gardening 101

For those of you who still haven’t come in terms with Organic Gardening and what it means, here’s a quick idea about it. Organic Gardening, as the name suggests, means Gardening using only products derived from nature. It means not using synthetic products including chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Organic gardening is all about creating an ecosystem where all the elements help sustain each other.  Like for example, the plants help the insects and the beneficial insects help the plant and so on.

Here are some of the important components of an organic garden:

Organic fertilizers, along with organic pesticides make the most integral part of organic gardening. In simple language, organic fertilizers are those that are derived from animal and vegetable matter, which are formed as a result of microbial degradation.

Why are Organic fertilisers better than chemical fertilizers?
Inorganic fertilizers or chemical fertilizers are subject to leaching and results in high toxic salt concentration in soil, while organic fertilizers work as soil conditioners. Inorganic fertilizers are derived from synthetic elements while organic fertilizers contain only plant and animal-based materials which turns out to more beneficial, of course.

Types of organic fertilizers:
Compost, manure and mulch make up the most popular types of organic fertilizer. Commercially packaged organic fertilizers are also found at garden supply stores.

  • Manure is derived from livestock and poultry waste. It has been used as a fertilizer since ancient times. It is buried in the soil near plants so that plants can directly absorb the nutrients.
  • Mulch is the most common type of natural fertilizer. Mulching materials includes, bark, leaves or even grass clippings from mowing the lawn.
  • Compost made out of garden and kitchen waste proves as the best type of organic fertilizers. Through composting a lot of kitchen waste is recycled which otherwise would have been disposed off in the garbage bin.

Half of all the chemical pesticides used have carcinogenic effects. They prove to be effective for the purpose of removing pests but the long term effects of using synthetic chemicals cannot be ignored. They prove detrimental for human health as well as plants health. That is why one should immediately switch to organic pesticides. Organic pesticides have no adverse effects on humans or plants.

 Types and examples of organic pesticides:

We can get rid of pest in a lot of natural ways. We can either get rid of them manually (by removing the effected parts of plants, spraying jets of water to dislodge pests etc) or we can take help of other mediums such as pest-eating predators (by attracting lady bug, spiders, praying mantis etc into the garden), neem extracts etc. By employing these well-known methods of pest-control we can minimize the population of pests and keep it within the threshold limit.

  • Water conservation:

When we take up the responsibility of carrying out gardening in an organic way, we must also make sure we are not wasting water while watering the plants. Water is vital for both humans and plants.

The following guidelines of watering plants must be followed for conserving this precious resource, water.

  • We should choose plants that are native to the area and require little or no water beyond what the nature provides
  • Planting groundcovers will help in keeping the garden coo. Also, regular mulching locks the moisture in the soil.
  • By using watering method such as Drip irrigation or soaker hoses which reduces evaporation of water. In drip irrigation technique we can deliver water directly to plant roots, where it seeps water in the soil slowly, one drop at a time. Thus minimizing loss of water due to surface runoff or evaporation. It saves time as well as effort.
  • Rainwater harvesting is another method of water conservation for the purpose of gardening. Rainwater can be collected in rain barrels and stored for watering the plants in the garden. The water thus harvested is pure, soft and has neutral pH which makes it a perfect fit for gardening purposes.
  • Growing native/local plants:

Growing plants that are native or local to a particular region has its own benefits. They tend to be resistant to all the conditions which are adverse in that particular region.

Like for example, Jasmine is native to India, which means growing and taking care of jasmine plant won’t be an exhaustive task. It can bloom on its own as long as it is grown in India or any other tropical country for that matter. Just the same way, if we bring in exotic plants which are native to other countries to India then we’ll need to put in extra effort for taking care of it, otherwise it’ll perish.
Hence, we see that local plants require less or no fertilisers, little water as they are mostly accustomed to the weather conditions of its native place. Local plants/crops require low maintenance as compared to other exotic, non-local plants.

 

Thus, organic gardening is considered to be a smart choice as it doesn’t harm the environment or the diversity. It in turn benefits us in so many amazing ways.

NOTE: You can buy organic fertilizers and organic pesticides from our online garden store – we deliver anywhere in India !

Happy Gardening.