Master gardener: the ins and outs of going organic | Home & Garden


Tom Ingram asks a master gardener

I hear and see the term “organic” all the time, but what does it mean? – KW

We see the term ‘organic’ a lot these days, and a lot of us are probably leaning towards organic without being able to give a good and concise definition of what it means, so here’s what the USDA says. : “Organic products must be produced using agricultural production practices that promote the resource cycle, promote ecological balance, maintain and improve soil and water quality, minimize the use of synthetic materials and preserve the biodiversity. In other words, organic gardening strives to make gardening self-sufficient and sustainable without resorting to synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.

It seems easy enough at first glance, but if you wanted to certify your organic garden, the process could take three years. During this three-year period, you will be required to use organic practices but will not be able to claim the product as organic until certification has taken place at the end of this three-year period.

If you are a home gardener and want to switch to organic gardening without worrying about being certified, here are some practices you will need to adopt.

The first thing to do is to improve the quality of your soil. Healthy, fertile soil is the foundation for successful organic vegetable cultivation – or non-organic, for that matter. In addition to maintaining the right nutrients in the soil, you will also need to be concerned about your soil structure. Vegetables, whether organic or not, need good soil to grow, and good soil is rich in organic content (there’s that word again). In this case, when we say “organic content” we are referring to organic matter, which not only helps improve soil quality, but is also a treasure trove of major nutrients and micronutrients.

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