Home Gardening the Organic Way

By the Plant Information Specialists

·· Design & Planning ··

Home Gardening the Organic Way

Interest in organic gardening is growing due to an upsurge in awareness among growers, gardeners, and consumers of practices that respect the environment. Pesticides have led to increased food production, less disease, and lower food costs due to reduced labor. Over the long term, however, the use of pesticides has had environmental consequences due to persistence, accumulation in the food chain, and adverse health effects on non-target species.

How to Be an Organic Gardener

As you integrate these cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cyclical use of resources, you will become an organic gardener.

- Mulch to conserve moisture, reduce weeds, and minimize leaf diseases.
- Rotate plantings to reduce disease pathogens.
- Use disease-resistant plant varieties.
- Return organic matter to the soil to increase fertility and improve structure.

- Release or simply encourage beneficial insects and mites.
- Use native plants as they have developed the inherent ability to resist insects and diseases and will help to promote ecological balance.
- Include a wide variety of plantings and habitats to conserve biodiversity.

- Prune away leaves and branches that are dead, diseased or pest infested.
- Remove weeds before they compete with desirable plantings, but keep a natural area to sustain wildlife.
- Many pests can be trapped, hand-picked, or hosed off.
- Barrier methods such as diatomaceous earth and hardware cloth keep out slugs and small animals.

Organic Solutions to Managing Plant Health

- Insects and mites: sulfur, soaps, oils, sticky traps, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
- Disease: copper hydroxide, copper oxide, copper oxychloride, copper sulfate, hydrogen peroxide, lime sulfur, oils, potassium bicarbonate, sulfur
- Herbicide: soap-based, corn gluten meal
- Fertilizer: aquatic plant extracts, sulfur, humic acids, magnesium sulfate, micronutrients, boron, liquid fish, bone meal, well-rotted manure, wood ashes, compost tea.

The organic methods we use for healthy plants and good soils help to restore and maintain ecological balance.

·· Design & Planning ··

Generous support for the Home Gardening Center has been provided by Kenneth and Ellen Roman.