Advice for the home organic gardener

If you are a home gardener and looking to be more sustainable or chemically free, then the guidelines to Organic production may be what you are looking for.

There is far more to organic gardening than simply replacing synthetic chemicals with naturally occurring chemicals.

Through the use of organic principles you will become a far better gardener with a deeper understanding of your garden, and the lives of the animals, plants and micro flora that live in it.

If you have a vegetable garden, fruit trees or chickens, you will be producing and eating food that you know has been produced in a clean and environmentally sustainable manner.

Couple with some organic produce

Basic principle of organic gardening

A basic principle of organics is health through diversity, in a closed system that minimises external inputs.

Encouraging a healthy ecology in your backyard or small garden involves not only the plants or animals that live there, but most importantly the soil and its micro-flora.

The Jadam principles of organics are an excellent introduction to improving soils and the micro flora in it. You can view the following video presentation – Rei Yoon – Jadam Organic Farming – The way to Ultra-low Cost Farming.

The goal of organic gardening and organics in general, is to build greater health, vitality and resistance to pests and disease, dry conditions and wet, by creating an optimum environment not only for optimum health and production but also for resilience, and fecundity.

In doing so you can measure your success by the diversity of species in your garden as well as its ongoing productivity and health; and by its economic and environmental sustainability.

You start by creating healthy soils that have strong populations of micro biota and a high moisture-holding capacity.

Composting your organic waste to apply back to your soil is one way to achieve this.

Supplementary home garden products for organic gardeners

As a home gardener with limited space and resources, there are a range of ‘Certified Organic inputs’ to help you improve the system.

For home garden use, Certified Organic compost, mulch, potting mix, garden mix and seed raising mix can all help improve soil health and nutrition.

You can also improve your soils by cultivating legumes, green manures or deep-rooting plants in a rotation program.

Organic seeds and seed exchanges are readily available and organically certified fruit and vegetable plants can also be purchased for the home garden—these are not as readily available though.

Growing seedlings

Organic insect and pest control

Growing Produce

For insect and pest control, always keep in mind that you are seeking to attract a healthy population of pest predators, parasitoids and crop pollinators. The idea is to reduce insect pests first without the use of sprays or drenches and with minimal impact on beneficial insects.

Choosing appropriate species and varieties of plants suited to your local environment to attract beneficial insects will help naturally lower levels of pest species. The use of mechanical controls such as traps, barriers and light are other considerations for pest management in organically-managed gardens.

While physical barriers are an important tool, simply removing unwanted insects from plants by hand is also effective if you have only a few or small garden.

Products that are used for pest prevention and control should be labelled ‘Certified Organic’ to ensure your garden remains free of synthetic inputs.

For a more comprehensive understanding of organic production, read the NASAA Organic and Biodynamic Standard that is used by Certified Organic operators and farmers.

Other useful references:

For further introductory information, visit the Organic Learning section of this website.

The following search facility may help you find an organic retail shop in your area – Search for Certified Organic products and producers.