“Organic” has been a buzzword sprouting up on food labels and in farmer’s markets for the past several years, but what, exactly, is organic gardening? How are edible fruits and vegetables that are planted organically different from the other foods we consume that grow from the ground? Read on to find out –
Organic Gardening: An Overview
When a garden is grown and planted organically, it is treated with less fertilizer and less water: the soil’s biology produces enough nutrients on its own, and the
soil is able to retain more moisture without added synthetic substances. Making plants more drought tolerant and disease resistant, organic soil has the ability to limit weed invasion while increasing the chance of survival and the overall health of transplants and seedlings. So why go organic? In short, it yields a more bountiful crop with less effort in the long run.
Organic Soil Amendments
So how does your garden grow better organically? With microbes that break down food sources and turn them into nutrients for plants and neutral pH levels that can encourage root systems to extract additional nutrients.
For larger crops that produce more vegetables, try these organic amendments:
– Earth worm castings: Though it mightn’t sound appetizing, worm feces are an incredible source of biologically activated minerals.
– Kelp meal: Like a nutritious meal for the soil, this stimulates bacteria, helping to increase soil fertility.
– Lobster and crab shells: These delicious shellfish are rich in chitin, which adds natural calcium to the soil. This, in turn, eliminates blossom end rot in tomatoes and makes plants more disease resistant and stronger.
– Dolomitic lime: Quite simply, this perfects soil PH.
– Dehydrated hen manure: An unexpectedly great way to grow greener and more vigorous plants.
– Peat humus: The highly organic humidified remains of sphagnum peat, this serves double duty, effectively loosening clay soil and giving body to sandy soil.
– Sphagnum peat moss: A triple threat, this provides a stable environment for root growth, helps hold water, and maintains pore space in the soil.
– Composted cow manure: With active biology and rich organic matter from cattle’s two stomachs, this enhances soil for optimal plant growth.
– Aged northern bark: Bark from cold climate trees, like pines, requires less nitrogen from the soil to decompose. This leaves more beneficial nitrogen for plants to absorb (nitrogen is the first number in fertilizers eg. 5-10-5).
At Ace Home and Leisure, a Maryland Garden Center, we carry the highly regarded, organic, “Coast of Maine” products, which are specially formulated for east coast growing conditions and sold to select garden centers and nurseries in the region. We are one of the few retailers in the area that carries the “Coast of Maine” Bumper Crop, an exclusive organic soil builder that contains Endo and Ecto Mycorrhizae and all natural ingredients.