Organically growing your own fruits, vegetables and flowers

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What exactly does organic gardening means. The simple answer is that organic gardeners don't use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants.

But gardening organically is much more than what you don't do. When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within Nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects.

An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes.

Organic gardening, then, begins with attention to the soil. You regularly add organic matter to the soil, using locally available resources wherever possible.

And everyone has access to the raw ingredients of organic matter, because your lawn, garden and kitchen produce them everyday.Decaying plant wastes, such as grass clippings, fall leaves and vegetable scraps from your kitchen, are the building blocks of compost, the ideal organic matter for your garden soil. If you add compost to your soil, you're already well on your way to raising a beautiful, healthy garden organically.

1. No synthetic pesticides and insecticides - they pollute the environment, kill beneficial organisms and don't control pests on a long term basis.

2. Conserve / recycle resources by composting vegetable scraps and using manure for fertilizer. Increase the organic matter in the soil with compost and 100% organic fertilizers. Let the fertile soil feed the plants.

3. Use organic fertilizers - Have your soil tested for nutrients and Ph level to learn the total and available levels of organic matter and minerals. Use rock powders to increase trace minerals: Greensand, colloidal phosphate and glacial rock powder.

Guidelines: Use 100% organic fertilizer to turf and planting beds in early spring at 20 lbs/1000 sq. ft. Repeat every 60 to 90 days during the growing season if greater response is needed (Three applications per year is normal.)

Apply rock powders annually at about 40-80 lbs/1,000 sq. ft. Add fish meal or kelp meal at 10-20 lbs/1,000 sq. ft. to annuals and perennials in the spring and every 60-90 days if needed during the growing season. Add a small handful of soft rock phosphate to each hole when planting bulbs or small transplants.

0ne of the most popular fertilizer recipes we've ever seen was introduced by Lee Fryer. This recipe provides at least three percent nitrogen, six percent phosphorus, and six percent potash. Lee recommends applying a total of four pounds of these mixtures per 100-square-feet of garden per season (applied both throughout the garden and under seed rows prior to planting).

Here's an inexpensive recipe for organic fertilizer, per 100 square feet of organic garden space:

For nitrogen: 10 pounds cottonseed meal, or 5 pounds fish meal,or 5 pounds blood meal, or 4 pounds hoof and horn meal

For phosphorus: 45 pounds bone meal, or 10 pounds phosphate rock, or 10 pounds soft phosphate

For potash and trace minerals: 1 pound kelp meal and 2 pounds wood ashes, or 10 pounds crushed granite, or 10 pounds green sand

As a texturizer: 2 cubic feet of manure

For microscopic life and humus: up to 1 cubic yard of compost

For calcium: 2 pounds eggshells

4. Mulch preserves moisture, eliminates weeds and keeps the soil surface cooler, which benefits earthworms, micro-organisms and plant roots.

Application: Cover bare soil around plants with natural mulch such as shredded tree trimmings, shredded hardwood bark and leaves, pine needles, etc. For shrubs, trees and ground covers, use at least 1" of compost and 3" of shredded native tree trimmings or shredded hardwood bark. Mulch vegetable gardens with 8" of partially completed compost or alfalfa hay.

5. Encourage life and biodiversity with companion planting, re-introduce beneficial insects, and protect benefical insects that exist, such as ladybugs, earthworms, green lacewings, and trichogramma wasps.

6. Water in the early morning hours, and adjust schedule seasonally to allow for deep, infrequent waterings to maintain an even moisture level and encourage deeper roots.

Guidelines: Monitor using a water gauge and including natural rainfall, about 1" of water per week in the summer is a good starting point. For foliar feeding, use a siphon attachment to apply a light application of seaweed or compost tea when possible.

7. Weeding - hand-pull large weeds, weekly shallow cultivation of soil to expose sprouting weed roots to the air, mulch all bare soil, and work on soil health improvement for overall weed control. Apply corn gluten meal in the Spring and Fall to control annual weeds.

Learn the secrets to growing a successful organic vegetable garden and discover how to grow strong, healthy plants that truly nourish you and your family. Plus bonus books on seed saving, natural pest deterrents, and crop rotation.

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