By Jodi Torpey
Organic gardening is simply letting nature guide you. It goes back to when gardeners had to figure out what would work best for replenishing the soil, feeding plants, and dealing with insect pests.
Organic gardening doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Here are four easy ways you can start gardening organically today.
Go au naturel. There are two ways I let my garden “be in a natural state.” I allow plants and flowers to bloom wherever they decide to seed themselves. This means sunflowers may pop up in unexpected places, or a new shrub surprises me in the landscape.
I also use natural fertilizers whenever I can. I feed my roses banana peels, dig in used coffee grounds to help the beneficial soil insects, and soak clean and crushed eggshells to make a water-soluble fertilizer. Not only do plants welcome organic fertilizers, but they’re also a great way to recycle kitchen waste.
Recycle fallen leaves. Fallen leaves are gold to an organic gardener because they have so many uses. I rake some leaves to create a thick layer of mulch to cover perennial beds and protect plants from the freeze-thaw cycle common during winter. I dump others onto the vegetable bed, where I can dig them into the soil to decompose. This improves soil fertility and gets the garden ready to plant in spring. The mulching mower shreds the remaining leaves, which stay in place to feed the lawn.
Live with imperfections. I’ve learned to appreciate imperfections because it means my garden is a healthy ecosystem. For example only a few insects cause severe problems; most others cause only cosmetic damage. Those circular pieces leaf-cutter bees cut from my rose leaves to make their nests? They don’t hurt the roses at all.
Use organic controls. Leaf-cutter bees don’t bother me, but other pests do. Squash vine borers, slugs, cutworms, and other harmful critters can ruin some vegetable crops practically overnight.
Instead of using chemicals to control insect pests, I use simple barriers, such as row cover cloth or plastic berry boxes, to protect plants and seedlings. When I spot other pests in the garden, I dispatch them into a bucket of water.
These are my top four easy organic gardening tips. What organic ideas work best in your Mountain region garden?
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