Category Archives: Organic Gardening Secrets

Is Soil Releasing Carbon Dioxide Faster Than Thought?

As you probably know, the soil is the single most important factor when it comes organic production of anything really, and especially food. Soil, long thought to be a semi-permanent storehouse for ancient carbon, may be releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than anyone thought, according to Oregon State University soil scientists.

In a study published in a recent online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, the researchers showed that chemicals emitted by plant roots act on carbon that is bonded to minerals in the soil, breaking the bonds and exposing previously protected carbon to decomposition by microbes.

The carbon then passes into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), said the study’s author, Markus Kleber, a soil scientist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

He said the study challenges the prevailing view that carbon bonded to minerals stays in the soil for thousands of years. “As these root compounds separate the carbon from its protective mineral phase,” he said, “we may see a greater release of carbon from its storage sites in the soil.”

It’s likely that a warming climate is speeding this process up, he said. As warmer weather and more carbon dioxide in the air stimulate plants to grow, they produce more root compounds. This will likely release more stored carbon, which will enter the atmosphere as CO2 – which could in turn accelerate the rate of climate warming.

Fruits You Can Grow Organically Indoors

Many people would like to try to start their own organic garden, but don’t have a space for it. They soon give up. If someone told you that there are some fruits that you can grow organically, indoors, in containers, would you believe him/her? Probably not, but the truth is that there are some fruits that can be grown this way.

Mulberry tree

Unlike its “siblings,” the blueberry or strawberry, the mulberry is a tree. If you start from only one seed, it could be 10 years or more before you see an actual fruit. You don’t have to wait – you can speed up this process by buying an organically-raised small tree from your local store. Place it in a large pot in a warm, bright place and let the magic begin.

Fig tree

Why is the fig tree perfect for you home? For various reasons. First of them – it does not require direct sunlight, meaning that it’s perfect for apartments that don’t get a lot of sun. Second, you will have to feed it only a few times during the growing season. It can be kept inside (successfully) even if you live in a place with colder climate.

How to water a garden

There are plenty of small-scale steps you can take to make efficient use of garden water. Here are some no-cost tricks you can try:

  1. Don’t stake plants. Let your tomatoes, beans and other climbers sprawl (on clean, dry mulch), or else grow bush varieties. By doing that you’ll expose less leaf area to the drying effects of sun and wind.
  2. Punch small holes in the bottoms of large cans or plastic milk jugs, set the containers next to thirsty plants, and then fill them with water.
  3. Grow some vegetables in partly shaded areas. Lettuce, parsley, peas, cabbages, and broccoli – among others – can do quite well on just five hours of direct sunlight a day. Fine netting shades crops well.
  4. Hill up sides of raised beds to create basins that will trap and hold as much rainwater as possible.

The soil should be our first concern in all aspects of farming and gardening, because nurturing the diverse life it sustains is the strongest we can take to growing healthier plants. While expensive irrigation systems or conservation strategies will help you save water, the best way to conserve moisture is to make soil improvement your top priority. A humus-rich soil – created by using lots of compost and cover crops – will hold water it gets while still allowing for aeration.

Crop Rotation 101

There are certain things every gardener should know, and we’ve been writing about them in one of our previous articles. Here we bring you some more detailed information about a phenomena called crop rotation. Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar or different types of crop in the same area in sequenced seasons. This is practiced because it gives various nutrients to the soil.

A traditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through the use of green manure in sequence with cereals and other crops. Crop rotation can also destroy the build-up of pathogens that often occur when one specie is continuously cropped. It can also improve soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted and shallow-rooted plants.

Keeping the fields under continuous production is the main benefit of crop rotation. Believe it or not, crop rotation can also save you money. Overall financial risks are more widely distributed over more diverse production of crops and/or livestock. Less reliance is placed on purchased inputs and over time crops can maintain production goals with fewer inputs.

Basic Organic Gardening Skills For Beginners – Part Two

In our previous article we have started talking about basic organic gardening skills every beginner should try to master. Here we bring you part two of this list, continuing with a few more essential skills.

Proper irrigation techniques

If you can’t water the plants on a regular basis, don’t bother planting it. An inch of precipitation (or irrigation) per week is the standard for summer vegetable gardens. Newly seeded areas may need a little water every day, while established plants will perform better with more water each time but less frequently. Some crops will require more water as the fruit develops, so pay attention to that too.

A plan for a crop rotation

Crop rotation goes hand-in-hand with both soil fertility and pest management. A good crop rotation will have crops with differing nutrient needs and pest threats succeeding one another on particular garden rows/beds. Crop rotation should be practiced each time a new crop is planted whether in successive years or within the same growing season.

Pest management

A well-chosen, planted and maintained plant will have minimal stress factors allowing infestation to occur. However, there are times when insect populations or fungal spores are most robust in the garden. Knowing the difference between signs and symptoms of insect damage and disease damage is critical in determining an effective course of action.