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"Organic gardening is not just the avoidance of chemicals, in the larger view, it is organic living using nature's laws." I read this quote by an unknown person sometime ago and realized that my parents and others like them were organic gardeners long before the current resurrection of these principles. They didn't use chemicals on the food they would feed to their children and gardening was a part of daily living to ensure there was sufficient food to preserve for the long winters. Everything was re-cycled and kitchen scraps were routinely thrown onto the garden to replenish the earth. Organic fertilizers such as manure were used and the only fertilizer on the roses was bone meal. My mother and father produced the best tasting vegetables and lots of them ? enough to feed a family of seven throughout the winter. Birds, worms, and other signs of a living earth were welcomed into the garden.
In recent times synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides have become the practice most common among commercial agricultural practices. These practices have had some undesirable results such as the loss or depletion of topsoil, land becomes less fertile, and the excessive use of pesticides has resulted in pests resistant to the current chemicals resulting in the development of even stronger chemicals. Our environment is being damaged by toxic chemical spills, chemicals leaching into rivers and water supplies are contaminating our drinking water, and the effect of global warming is becoming a major part of the political agenda.
Our personal diet and health is a major topic of importance as more attention is being paid to the relationship between food and health. Research has demonstrated that organically grown vegetables are higher in vitamins and minerals than those grown with inorganic fertilizers. Gardening organically and growing as much of our own food as possible is one of the steps we can take to start healing the earth on which we live and in the process healing ourselves. Several key components are fundamental to the practice of organic gardening.
Practical Steps to Organic Gardening
1. Soil. The soil is kept healthy by working with Nature rather than against it. Practices include using organic fertilizers such as manure to replenish the earth and all refuse produced by the garden should be recycled back into the garden. Organic gardening uses all of the waste produced in the garden such as grass clippings, leaves, and leftovers from the kitchen to make compost that feeds the soil and keeps it full of the nutrients necessary to grow crops.
2. Avoid the use of all synthetic chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Eliminating the use of chemicals in the garden allows gardeners to not worry about children, pets, and wildlife coming in contact with synthetic weed killers and fertilizers on the lawn and shrubs. The food grown is pesticide-free, additive-free, and nutritious food for the table.
3. Sustainability. In his book, Gardening Organically, John Fedor defines sustainability as "the ability of a society or an ecosystem to function indefinitely without squandering the resources on which it relies." Organic gardening does this by ensuring there is no loss of nutrients or topsoil in the garden.
4. Environmental Stewardship. Gardening organically means that the environment benefits from the reduction in contamination of the water supply and air pollution. It means that we provide a habitat for wildlife including beneficial insects and animals.
5. Wildlife-friendly Habitats. Informal areas can be created to assist wildlife in their search for habitat where they can survive the destruction of many areas; destructions that have now endangered many species.
6. Intensive planting. Plants are spaced closely together to conserve water and shield the soil from sunlight thus helping to prevent weed seeds from germinating and growing.
7. Biodiversity. Biodiversity ensures that when a change in growing conditions occurs, a single crop from a monoculture does not lead to a crop failure. The food supply does not become jeopardized when a diversity of species are planted.
8. Rotating Crops. Crop rotation assists in the control against soil-borne pests and diseases. This rotation makes a difference in the productivity of the garden as those diseases that affect the plants are kept in check by the rotation of the crops to other areas of the garden.
9. Watering and Weeding. Rainwater can be saved to water the garden. Soaker hoses, drip irrigation, and watering by hand conserve water. Mulches are invaluable in both water conservation and slowing down weed germination.
10. Saving Seeds. Save some seeds from your best plants when harvesting crops. Many old varieties are being lost at an alarming rate and preserving this biodiversity is important. Some of these saved seeds have been used to develop new strains after disaster has affected commonly cultivated varieties.
Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace ? Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul. She owns the website Gwen's Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the book and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 ? 2005. All rights reserved.
Plants To Grow Old With or The Constant Battle
Following are a few paragraphs about the on going battle I had with some of my plants!
Tarragon: A Favourite of French Chefs
Long a favourite of French chefs, the herb Artemisia dracunculus, known as French tarragon or dragon herb is an essential ingredient in Béarnaise sauce, tarragon vinegar, and certain Dijon mustards. A perennial herb, tarragon grows 2 ? 4 feet (60 ? 120 cm) and has dark, shiny, narrow grey-green leaves about 3 inches (8 cm) long with smooth edges. Tarragon produces tiny yellow flowers and has stems that are ridged, round, branching, and light green. Tarragon is rich in Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and potassium, and has a mild anise flavour in its leaves.
Simple Lawnmower Maintenance
Do you have trouble starting your lawnmower up in the spring? Before deciding to take your lawnmower in for repair, try these few simple suggestions. After completing them most of the time your lawnmower will fire up and run like a champ.
Balcony, Patio, and Courtyard Gardening
People choose balcony, patio, and courtyard gardening for many different reasons. Some are moving from a large house to smaller accommodation, some don't want the hassle of a large property, and some chose to live in rental property to avoid the high-cost of owning a home. Whatever the reason, this doesn't mean we can't garden. No space is too small for a small space garden. One plant in a container is a garden. In fact, ever more gardening options are available in terms of pots, half-barrels, window boxes, troughs, cast-iron planters, recycled materials ? the list is unending with possibilities.
Flowers Wilting? Tips for Making Your Flowers Last Longer
We all know one disadvantage of flowers is that they don't last very long. While they are here they bring happiness and warmth to any dull decorating space. If your flowers are dieing awfully fast, then you may be using poor flower care routines. There are many little things that you can do to lengthen the life span of your flower arrangements and flower bouquets. Many florists and flower shops provide good information on how to care for your specific flower type. Read on for a few extra tidbits of information on expanding the time that you can enjoy your flowers.
How To Build A Waterfall
The number one, most asked question that I receive about water features is "How do I build a waterfall?"
16 Lawn Mower Safety Tips
1. Always read the instruction manual before operating your lawnmower. I know it sounds boring but there is a very good reason you are supposed to read it (didn't you ever wonder why you were never able to set the time on your vcr?).
Introduction to Aquaponics
Hydroponics and aquaponics are very similar in every way except hydroponics requires the addition of fertilizer and there's no fish in the nutrient solution.
Getting Started with Garden and Patio Design
The art of managing outdoor space Designing a patio - or a garden, is much like designing a living room or a park. It's all about space, and how you use it. To start with, you have empty space with nothing in it. Then you add plants, statues and other decorative items to fill that space and make it feel like a homey, comfortable space.. but wait! You don't want to actually fill it with stuff. Then it would look cluttered, which is not what you want. What you want is a balance between empty space and decorative items. The real issue, then, is how do you achieve that balance?
The Difference Between Large and Small Ponds
If you think that a large pond is simply a small pond that "grew up", you're in for some pond maintenance problems. Let's start off my defining the terms that we'll be using here. A large pond is anything over 1,000 gallons (5,000 liters). A pond that holds over 4,000 gallons (20,000 liters) is a very large pond.
Bonsai Trees - Our Own Little Forest
Bonsai trees have been grown in China and Japan for centuries. Buddhist priests were the ones that created them and, in some centuries time, everyone could enjoy the little trees. And, by little we mean little: a bonsai tree can live up to hundreds of years without being more than 1m high. By regularly cutting down the branches and by shortening the roots, the growing is stopped. More, by not providing the full required elements to grow, the trees remain little. Those really interested in Bonsai trees should know that this is a hobby that requires a lot of responsibility and time, because they are living trees, not some dead wood.
With Outdoor Lighting You Can Enjoy Your Garden Into The Evening Hours
It is a beautiful evening and you are relaxing on your patio, enjoying the cool summer air. The flowers are blooming, the lawn is green and lush, everything is perfect, if only you could see! We spend so much time and money on our backyards, decks and patios, and then the sun goes down and we must abandon these beautiful oases. However, it does not have to be that way if you have outdoor lighting.
Commercial and Residential Flagpoles
The world's tallest unsupported flagpole is located in Amman, Jordan. Erected in 2003, the carbon steel pole juts 416 feet into the sky and weighs a staggering 190,000 pounds. A flagpole of that magnitude requires an extremely heavy foundation ? upwards of 600 tons ? and is therefore bolted to the foundation by 36 carbon steel bolts. It is built to withstand winds up ninety miles per hour with the flag attached, as well as earthquakes. Design and construction took two whole years ? and a number of major corporations cooperating ? to get it erected.
Want a Garden but Not Enough Room or Soil? Then Hydroponics Gardening could be for You
Hydroponics gardening is a great idea for anyone who wants a garden but doesn't have enough land or soil. Hydroponics gardening is, essentially, a way to cultivate plants using a nutrient solution instead of soil. With hydroponics gardening, it's easy to grow lovely flowers and succulent vegetables virtually anywhere you want! It's true that hydroponics gardening needs much less time than an ordinary garden. In fact, you might spend only five minutes a day maintaining you're hydroponics garden. Once a month the nutrient solution will have to be changed but this will only take a few minutes. Big fruiting vegetables like peppers and tomatoes may not be able to thrive but most other vegetables and flowers will do great.
Storm Warnings For Ponds
California has earthquakes; we in the south and east coast have hurricanes. One thing we all share is power outages. Ours are usually caused by storms. Most power outages last only a few hours and only happen a few times a year. A hurricane is always a threat that hopefully will never happen or have only a minimal consequence. Flooding may be more common then a power interruption and both can happen at the same time.
Frame Your Garden With Edging
You've planted the flowers, put in the shrubs and even added a bird bath and a few garden decorations, but what's missing? Could it be the edging?
June Gardening Tips
These are just a few gardening tips for you to consider here in late June. Many people seem to think that just because all the plants have been put into their places for the summer and your perennials are blooming, or past bloom, there is no more work to be done. The garden is full of multi-colored flowers, so there must be little or nothing to do. Right? No, there is always work that may be done.
Water Ponds and Wildlife - How To Attract More Animals to Your Backyard
Wildlife require water just as humans do. Water is essential for life. Songbirds use it for bathing and preening; waterfowl and shorebirds for finding food and escaping predators; and muskrat, mink and beaver for every part of their existence.
How to Grow Strawberries
In addition to the traditional strawberry patch, there are as many ways to grow strawberries as there are to eat them! Grow strawberries in a bed, hydroponically, as a ground cover, as an ornamental patio plant, or in a hanging basket.
Ultra Violet Pond Filter
Having an ultra violet pond filter will give you a much better chance at keeping your pond water clear. When used in conjunction with your regular pond filter, it's more than likely that you will have nice clear pond water.
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