Does Organic Gardening Really Differ from Regular Gardening?

With most aspects, organic gardening is not much different than regular gardening. Just like regular gardening, organic gardening requires you to plan your garden layout, plan what plants you will use, and prepare the land. However, there are a few differences in organic gardening that you should be aware of, especially if you plan to make an attempt to try it out this gardening season.

One of the main differences between organic gardening and regular gardening is found with the materials you use to nourish your plants. With regular gardening, items like fertilizers and pesticides are used. These are effective in helping plant growth for the planting season, but after years of continued use, chemical fertilizers can break down the soil’s composition, making planting more difficult. Additionally, pesticides will require you to wash your vegetables thoroughly before eating them, and sadly, this does not guarantee that you will not be ingesting harmful chemicals.

Organic gardening, however, uses the elements of Mother Nature to care for your garden. In place of fertilizers, you use things like mulch, compost, wood chips, grass cuttings, saw dust, and leaves. These items will break down over time and nourish your garden and the soil that your plants will grow in the following year.

While you can place these items directly on your garden, it does take time for these items to break down. Many gardeners choose to place these items in a compost pile. A compost pile can be made up of anything that is natural and will break down into nutrients. This can include vegetable scraps and even manure. Starting your compost early can help ensure that you have ready-to-use nutrients for your plants to help them grow this season.

Another difference between organic gardening and regular gardening is the lack of pesticides involved. Many gardeners become worried that by spraying or dusting their produce, they will not be able to remove all of the pesticides. This means that the pesticides can make their way into the digestive system. Pesticides have been linked to numerous health conditions and this is the main reason that organic gardeners choose to steer clear of these chemicals.

What is the Difference Between Compost and Fertilizer?

If you are a new gardener, you may not be familiar with the differences between compost and fertilizers. This can lead to a great deal of confusion when browsing the gardening aisle at the store. If you plan on gardening in the future, understanding these differences can be extremely important.

In the simplest terms, fertilizers feed plants. Compost feeds the soil. While this may not sound like it makes a very big difference, it really can make a big impact on the future of your garden and its soil, and there is actually a difference.

Fertilizers do add nutrients to the soil. However, the ingredients are focused on meeting the needs of the plants. Fertilizers have been shown to actually prevent the growth of microbes needed to keep the soil healthy. This throws the soil’s chemistry out of balance and can actually lead to breakdown of the soil food web, especially if used year after year. The impact can be even worse if chemical fertilizers are used instead of organic fertilizers.

Compost, unlike fertilizers, actually promotes healthy microbe growth within the soil. It feeds the soil food web and increases the health of the natural soil. Over time, this creates a more nutrient rich soil that is beneficial for the plants and vegetables that you place in it. This is because compost is actually made up of microscopic fungi and bacteria. Other organisms like crickets and earthworms are also present in compost, which further benefits the soil. The end result is soil that allows the plants and vegetables to feed themselves.

Composting also helps the soil retain much needed moisture, and research has also shown that composting can also assist in enhancing the disease resistance of some plants, like tomatoes and vegetables. This can reduce the amount of crops you lose to disease, which often leads to wasted expenses.

Fertilizer and compost can be used together. However, it is important that you remember how fertilizer can affect the future composition of your soil. If you do choose to use fertilizer, it is recommended that you stick to organic fertilizer or only use it for the short term.