Category Archives: Organic Gardening Secrets

Basic Organic Gardening Skills For Beginners – Part One

If you love the idea of having your own organic garden, but have doubts if you should give it a try, follow this list of basic skills every new organic gardener needs to learn, and soon you’ll become an expert.

Making compost

In organic gardening, the process begins and ends with soil. Making compost out of vegetable scraps, crop residue, weeds, manure and other sources ensures the formation of humus, a long-term builder of soil fertility, much better than just tilling these things directly into the soil.

Starting plants from seeds

If you want to stay completely away from the use and residues of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, as well as to open up the full choice of crop varietal options, the ability to start plants from seeds is essential. This skill gives gardeners the option to choose organic certified seed, to choose or make on organic seed starting mix, and control all fertilizer and pest control inputs related to the crop.

Proper planting techniques

The techniques related to planting will differ for each crop, and whether the crop is sown directly into the garden or started indoors and transplanted to the garden. Planting depth, spacing and all requirements for temperature, soil, sun, water and nutrients are all basic factors for the survival and success of the crop. Most crops will have some margin for error, but too many stress factors can lead to crop failure. The best way to minimize problems here is to start small. Get comfortable with a few crops at first, and then expand as you learn more.

How Big Is The Organic Food Industry?

If you’re starting a business, the first thing you should do is examine whether there’s a demand for your products or services. When it comes to organic food growing, people usually say that there’s “lots of potential” but “a small number of buyers”. They believe this is true because organic products are very expensive compared to non-organic ones. And they’re right about the part where they’re talking about potential. But, they have underestimated the strength of demand. The best way to describe the size of the organic food industry is to use numbers.

US is the country with the highest organic food revenue, almost 25 million euros, compared to the second place Germany which has achieved “only” 7 million. The biggest organic food markets are the US and the EU ones. US has a share of 43% while European Union has 40%. All other countries in the top ten have very small shares (less than 5%).

When we talk about the US, more than 60% of people declared to prefer organic over non-organic food. Retail sales of organic food in the United States note a constant growth since 2000 and will reach 60 billion dollars in total in 2017 if they continue to grow at this rate.

All these numbers lead us to only one conclusion – organic markets and industry are really big and have the potential to become even bigger. Further improvement in sales should be made in countries that register small organic production or sale. Statistics have shown that organic food is accepted in highly developed countries, while less developed countries consider it to be an unnecessary cost.

Organic Water – Does It Exist?

Water is the root of life, everybody knows that. Nowadays, when the organic resources all over the Earth are depleting rapidly, water is becoming highly-desired commodity. And when we say water – we mean healthy, clean water. In recent years, numerous manufacturers have tried to push through so-called “organic water” onto markets all across the world. Does such a thing exist or is it just clever marketing? The following are just a few quick facts about “organic” water.

1. There’s no such thing as certified organic water

There’s no such thing as organic water period, whether certified organic or not certified. Under National Organic Program (NOP) policy, water is not an ingredient that can be certified as organic. You may have seen water marketed as “natural” or as having come from “organic land” and some companies have even tried to market their bottled water brands as “organic” water. However, legally, NOP says that water products, with very few exceptions, cannot be certified as organic.

2. Chlorine in water is allowed within limits

Chlorine is commonly found in our water supply system, and thus is allowed by NOP. However, NOP has some standards in place regarding the use of chlorine. Water used in organic production and handling can only contain the amount of chlorine necessary to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This includes water used in crop rotation, organic food processing, livestock operations and on-farm post-harvest handling and other operations.

3. Chemical-free water must be used for cleaning organic food

Water used for washing any organic food product must be safe and clean of chemicals. For example, say you wash a bunch of carrots to take to the farmers’ market. That water may not be contaminated with added chemicals.

Organic Fertilizers

Fertilizers derived from vegetable matter, animal matter or human excreta are referred to as organic fertilizers. They are also known as manure or compost, and in contrast to them, the great majority of fertilizers are produced industrially, like ammonia, or extracted from minerals, such as phosphate rock, for example.

Mineral

The main source of organic fertilizer is peat, an immature precursor to coal. Peat itself offers no nutritional value to the plants, but improves the soil by aeration and absorbing water. Mined powdered limestone, rock phosphate and Chilean saltpeter are inorganic compounds, which can be energetically intensive to harvest.

Animal sources

Animal sources are, essentially, materials which include the products of the slaughter of animals, with typical precursors being bloodmeal, bone meal, hides, hoofs and horns. Chicken litter, which consists of chicken manure mixed with sawdust, is an organic fertilizer that has been shown to better condition soil for harvest than synthesized fertilizer.

Plant

Processed organic fertilizers include seaweed extracts, amino acids, humic acid and compost. Other examples are nature enzyme-digested proteins, feather meal and fish meal. Decomposing crop residue (green manure) from prior years is another source of fertility. Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have found that algae used to capture nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agricultural fields can not only prevent water contamination of these nutrients, but also can be used as an organic fertilizer.

Sewage sludge

Although night soil is a traditional organic fertilizer, the main source of this type is sewage sludge. Animal-sourced urea and urea-formaldehyde from urine are suitable for organic agriculture; however, synthetically produced urea is not.

Organic Gardening Systems

There are dozens of techniques out there that can be used in organic gardening. By combining different techniques we create different organic gardening systems. Certain organic gardening systems tend to be more specific than general organic standards. Here are few types of organic gardening systems:

Forest gardening – This fully organic food production system dates from prehistoric times. It represents the world’s oldest and most resilient agroecosystem.
Biodynamic agriculture – This method, created by Rudolf Steiner, treats soil fertility, plant growth and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
No-till farming – This is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage.
French intensive gardening – This is a method of gardening in which humans work with nature to foster healthy, vibrant plants with smaller space and less water than traditional gardening.
Biointensive agriculture – This is an organic agricultural system that focuses on achieving maximum yields from a minimum area of land, while simultaneously increasing biodiversity and sustaining the fertility of the soil.