July 20, 2011

The Basics of Organic Gardening

I remember when I was not organic and I remember the day I changed. I struggled with gardening. I was young, newly married and a first time homeowner. I knew NOTHING! After many years of trying and learning, I joined my neighborhood garden club and met my friend Ginger. She came to my house to do the program that night on organic gardening. It rained that night and I had just put chemical fertilizer on my lawn. The sewer drainage was directly in front of my house. Ginger said "do you realize that all that chemical runs off of the lawn and into the water system"? That was it for me. The turning point. I jumped feet first into learning everything I could about gardening organically. I am proud to say that I have been totally organic for about 15 years and I am on my second organic property. Our current home was taken care of by an avid organic gardener and would have suffered terribly while it remained vacant due to her illness. Instead it reaped the benefits of organics including leaf accumulation to provide a great compost. After six years I am still delighted by new plants that emerge and thrive in their environment.

Many people have a misconception about organic gardening and think it is more expensive, or more work but it really isn't. Although it does take some time to get on a program, once you are, the benefits just keep on giving. You water less, fertilize less, and replace your plants less. You, your children and your pets are safer. And you will have the benefit of beneficial insects and birds in your environment. Early one morning last week, we watched the beauty in our backyard as cardinals, hummingbirds, red dragonflies, butterflies and bees all flew thru the butterfly garden. We have a pond where toads and bullfrogs provide music each evening. We have a vegetable garden where we are provided with fresh produce and we provide host plants to the Swallowtail butterfly with Fennel and Passion Vine to the Gulf Frittelary each year.
Your garden needs the same basic things you need to survive and flourish. Air, Water and Nourishment. My personal belief is that if you follow an organic program, water minimally but sufficiently and mulch you will have a successfully garden. I lean a little to the weird side when it comes to organics and the more smell they have the better. Two of my favorites are Fish Emulsion and Liquid Seaweed.
My program is adapted from Lucy Harrell, a local organic gardener in Arlington (sadly Lucy is relocating to Houston). You can find valuable information on Lucy's website which is found at the bottom of this link with her simple organic program. Lucy is also of the author of Ladies of the Garden a Journal. I love the way this book is layed out monthly and it is full of so much valuable information. I've had it for years and still go back to it.

I believe, as Lucy does that you provide basic needs for your yard and garden. If you use only organic practices for pest and weed control, your gardening dreams will be realized and every day that passes...from the day you become totally organic...will be a better day for your yard and our world.
So invest the time into learning about organic gardening and teach your children. Our world depends on them and the bees...


Karla said...

Great article Mindi! I am completely organic in the backyard and veggie garden, but have a tough time convincing my husband not to spray the grass in the front for weeds. What do you recommend for weeds that won't harm the grass?

Heidy said...

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for the link to an organic program, off to read that now.

Margaret said...

You have such a lovely garden.

I think my garden is 100 times better since I went organic and you're right it is not more expensive.

mindi said...

Karla, I recommend hand picking the weeds. Also read up on the use of Corn Gluten Meal. It will not kill the weeds already there but will prevent future ones from reseeding. If you must use something to kill the weeds, spray them individually so you are killing the root but don't randomly spray. Guarantee once you get on the program though you won't have the weeds.