It’s More Expensive
Organic gardening is a method of growing plants or vegetables that you could describe as “Earth friendly.”
To be entirely Earth friendly, however, isn’t really possible. You are interfering with nature by gardening with any method, but the goal of organic gardening is relatively simple.
You should aim to feed the soil to ensure that it remains a healthy environment for your plants to grow. This means using natural fertilizer and avoiding chemicals.
The soil is ultimately the most important part because without it, nothing grows. It’s also about looking for a natural solution to every problem.
Stay away from chemical solutions to deal with pests or weeds unless you absolutely have to resort to them.
It may all seem like more work and effort to begin with, but the organic route isn’t necessarily the harder route, especially if you know what you’re doing.
If it sounds like the method for you, then that’s great, and you can learn more about it here on Gardener’s Path. But there are certain things that you need to think about before committing.
Like anything else, there are myths about the process that you might actually believe right now. Here are five of those myths about organic gardening that you should get out of your mind:
It makes sense why people would think that organic gardening costs more. Organic produce in general is definitely more expensive.
When you buy it from a local gardening center or a grocer, you will be paying more, and that’s where this misconception probably comes from.
All that you really need to get yourself started with organic gardening is to buy seeds and mulch, and both of these things come pretty cheap.
Also, because you are looking for natural solutions when you’re going the organic route, you can apply that to more than just the plants.
Instead of buying expensive pots, you could just make your own from repurposed milk cartons or old containers.
And you can make your own bug spray too. Garlic and pepper are useful for that. For most things that you might assume require chemical solutions, there’s a DIY alternative.
Going fully organic means cutting down on costs significantly.
Sometimes people will be put off from trying organic gardening because of the misconception that you need an entirely different skill set—a more advanced skill set than what’s necessary for more traditional gardening. But that’s not actually the case.
At the end of the day, it’s as simple as cutting out all of the chemical products. All of the actual skills you have to work on are pretty similar.
The thing that might be different about it is the fact there is going to be more to do. People get the impression that it’s more difficult because it takes longer.
But that’s just because you’re not just throwing a bunch of chemicals at your plants; you are actually putting in the work to care for them.
At the end of the day, it’s really no more difficult than any other style of gardening; there’s just a bit more to do. And that brings me to my next point.
One of the things that puts people off of organic gardening is that they believe it is going to be a lot more work.
In some ways, it is but not necessarily for the reasons that people think. The extra work leans more toward the enjoyable side of gardening, like making homemade mulch and fertilizer and finding out how best to arrange your plants so that they can grow most efficiently.
This is the essence of gardening; the monotonous side is things like manually watering the plants.
And people tend to believe that you have to water your new plants every single day because the roots get damaged while you’re planting.
In fact, you will have the opposite effect. Roots that are damaged can take less water, meaning that if there is too much moisture, it will wear the roots down even more.
You don’t need to water until the soil starts to dry. A good plan would be to make sure that the soil is very wet when things are planted.
It will take a couple of days for this to dry out. You can test it by dipping your fingers into the soil, and if it’s drying out, then you can water it again.
So if this was one of the reasons why you thought organic gardening wasn’t going to be your thing, then you can scratch it off the list.
Wood chips are very popular among organic gardeners as a source of mulch because it’s a cheap and relatively simple way of getting that particular job done.
However, there are people who believe that it should be avoided because it decreases the nitrogen count in the soil.
Without nitrogen, plants can’t make any proteins or amino acids, and their DNA won’t be able to form properly.
The plants will grow, but they’ll be stunted and more likely to not last. Nitrogen is also a major component of chlorophyll and is essential for growth.
The assumption is that the nitrogen present in the soil will be drawn away from the plants and into the wood chips to decompose them.
While it’s true that the wood will draw nitrogen from the soil, it does so at a much less dramatic rate than people realize.
These wood chips will only take microscopic amounts of nitrogen from the soil, and in the grand scheme of things, the nitrogen count that your plants require won’t be affected at all.
Pardon the pun, but although this myth is rooted in scientific truth, it’s nowhere near as big of a problem as people believe it to be.
A high-yielding crop is something that produces a large amount per square foot of the space in your garden.
Because most gardeners are operating from smaller gardens, they tend to look for high-yielding plants and vegetables to maximize the space.
The assumption is that synthetic pesticide and fertilizer is necessary for a high yield because organic pest control and fertilization do not have the scope of the synthetic alternative.
But this assumption isn’t based on small-scale gardening. It’s based on the idea that organic gardening wouldn’t be sufficient for mass producing vegetables.
We’ve already argued for the organic solutions to these issues, but they can’t really be used for large, expansive farms.
So if you were trying organic farming on a big farm, then you would indeed have a lower yield, but that doesn’t mean that your personal garden will.
It’s perfectly feasible to have grown high-yielding vegetables organically in a much smaller space. So this is another logical myth, but it’s also unfounded in regard to small gardens.
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It looks to me the best way to grow a garden is the “Back to Eden” way. It is a very informative video to say the least. Avery long time gardener Paul Gaustchi, not sure of the spelling, has been gardening years doing the “organic” way. He has not used chemicals at any time and has the best garden ever. Check it out.
I have never heard of any of these myths but I can say that I agree with the writer. Organic gardening is by far the best for plants and soil. You just have to have a compost pile which starts at end of growing season and build on it until you plant in the following spring. What you put in it will have plenty of time to decompose and break down and make a beautiful additive you can use. And if you stock enough it can be used all year round. Good for flower beds. If you have chickens recycle the poop and their bedding and it works great. Good article
The sixth myth is that if you are using municipal water, your products are organic. With all the processing and then concentration in the soils, the water is hardly pure. It contains chlorine, chlorinated-hydrocarbons, pesticides, herbicides, lead and other toxic chemicals. The chlorine alone binds with carbon based compounds in the soil. Again, this all concentrates through years of water application. This is a simple concept that people just don’t want to admit as it is inconvenient.
I agree, Ricketyrick; so many over look this. I use rain catchment and pond water.
Yes, the “federal standards” for delivered water are exceedingly low. Raising the federal standards is fought vigorously every time a bill is introduced to raise them even a little bit. I bet you thought Sparklets and Crystal Geyser and Nestle are the one who fight raising the standards tooth and nail. You might be correct in that assumption, but the biggest opponents are cities and their municipal water districts.
Years ago I used Roundup and other herbicides to kill weeds and such but no more, I use salt to spot kill and keep the sidewalk clear. I have gone back to growing organic too, good article.
Use salt with just a little dish washing detergent to act as a wetting agent. I’ll look up the formula and post it after dinner.
My formula for weed killer is eight drops of dishwashing detergent, 2 cups of salt in one gallon of water. I have used this formula successfully for over twenty years. I don’t remember now where I got it but it works in SoCal. I used to use Triox which sterilized the soil so that nothing grew for several years but it is apparently verboten in the PDRK. I don’t know about the rest of the country. The drawback to Triox is that it is indiscriminate. It kills all plant material. But if you want to get rid of weeds in the cracks of your sidewalk or driveway, that does the job.
Thank you, LCC. I’m gonna give that formula a try.
Thanks LCC, I’ll give that receipt a try, I’ve got some weeds coming up now that I need to get rid of.
Weeds are tools. Cut them off below the soil and the roots stay, building the soil. I cut them off above ground so they come back, take the tops for mulch, and when the top is cut, the roots die back, again building he soil. As the roots grow, they spread out in new directions and again, the top becomes a garden tool, mulch. Old-timers called it green manure, it was that rich in fertilizer value. The worse weeds here are wild lettuce and prickly amaranth. Some tumbleweed. All of them root deep, loosening the soil as the roots decay.
Pepper spray: puree 4 habaneros and a tablespoon of oil in 2 cups of water in a blender. Add mix to 1 gallon of water, straining it through cheesecloth. Spray at this strength, adding a couple drops of Dawn dish liquid. Kills all mites, aphids, worms it contacts, but test it on a plant 1st by spraying a branch and waiting 2 days to see if it burns the foliage. Don’t get it in your eyes, it is a weak homemade CS spray.
Paraffinic Oil, also called Ultra Light Oil Spray or summer oil spray is liquid paraffin. It has been out of favor and back in with organic gardeners, but it is the most harmless and highly effective treatment for mites and aphids there is. Non burning, also good for powdery mildew.
Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt spray, a bacteria harmless to humans but deadly to the larvae of moth and butterfly, cabbage butterfly, corn earworm, and hornworm the bad ones in my area. Use it with great care and awareness because it is death to all moths and butterflies. On a still day I treat the tassels of my corn with it, at dusk I carefully put it on my tomatoes for hornworms, but only after the hornworms have ruined a couple of plants because they are the larvae of hawk, sphinx, and prometheus moth and I love all those critters…
Fire ants, bane of the South, but I let ’em have mounds in the vegetable garden because they are aggressive carnivores, they will actually climb a stalk of corn and go inside the developing ear to get earworms. Painfully cool, like most of life.
Don’t like wood chips for mulch because they are ugly.
I used to use paraffin oil as a wood finish. It gave a beautiful oil finish. I liked it better than linseed oil because it was lighter and it rubbed in faster than linseed oil. One can no longer buy paraffin oil in the PDRK — at least none of the small hardware stores nor the big box stores carry it, so I guess it is on the proscribed list.
The goofy PDRK legislature wants to ban little shampoo bottles in hotels and paper cash register receipts as their new “Save the World” effort.
Does anyone remember the paper bag ban effort that was going to save the trees? So we went to plastic. I still think the grocery industry was behind the ban the bag move in the PDRK. The money they save by not giving out bags goes straight to the bottom line.
Years ago paraffin oil was removed from the list of acceptable organic pesticides because it is a petroleum product. I think it has been welcomed back,I guess it occurred to a bunch of gardeners and farmers that the Corn Huskers lotion so many have used for so long on chapped hands and faces is also mineral oil.
Just heard an article on Socialist/Communist NPR (God have mercy I am a Fellow Traveler and would have made a great Premature Anti-Fascist too) claiming one would have to re-use a cloth shopping bag thousands of times to gain energy equivalency with another person using plastic bags. Dang plastic bags are good for climate change, but they sure look bad hanging in the branches of the mesquite trees that have taken over all the abandoned farms in Texas.
I would just like to say thank you for all the wonderful info!
Ha! Love it! Thank you, bro! I’m all natural, which is close to organic. I reserve the right to use a chemical if I am forced to. Bermuda grass is a problem, so a little herbicide isn’t going to damage the garden, just a little! The shovel works like a charm till the monsoons. I do not water more than 3 days in a row on new planting. We have a severe problem with cotton root rot, a fungus that kills pretty much all plants. A little sulfur cuts back on the Ph (from 8+). I need to get some wood chips. What little nitrogen they do steal is soon replaced by a lot more as they decay. The soil needs heavy mulch for insulation from the sun more than ought else. Coffee grounds are my choice for fall and winter mulch. An inch or so will keep the soil warm and moist even thru heavy freezes. I have a chili and some Apache Red sweet sorghum that survived winter, thanks to that and a heavy mulch. It got down to the lower 20s a few times. niio!
I totally agree with your essay. Here in central AZ at 3400 feet elevation, it gets HOT and COLD (115 in the summer and 15-20 in the winter). Temp can vary as much as 50-60 degrees in a 24 hour period all year long. I grow as close to organic as possible. We have our own well, so municipal water is not an issue. No pesticides (Only use Neem Oil and Thuricide for fungus and pests. Vinegar, Dawn and salt for weeds). Composted chicken manure and worm castings for fertilizer and copious amounts of mulch. I have various sized raised beds built from kiln dried 2x!2’s and 15 gal Grow Sacks are all drip irrigated and in separate zones for tighter control. Have pvc hoop houses for the raised beds with shade cloth in the summer and plastic for the winter. Thus, I have a year round growing season for various crops. Everything from snow to monsoons here. It took 5 seasons to figure out how to garden in this climate. In a dedicated 2000 sf area, I have 16 raised beds and 16 grow sacks. Growing In that garden/orchard I have veggies, apples, peaches, pears, pomegranate, grapes, cherries and currants. Planting blackberries and raspberries this year. I spend 1 to 2 hours daily and probably double that during the winter for composting & maintenance. It took a while and a bit of money to get it working, but it sure is worth it. I can grow more than enough for 2 people so my neighbors benefit as well. “Effort yields reward”.
Yo, hey, neighbor! We only got to 112 last summer, and about 22 in the winter. I live off SR 76, north of Oracle. I lucked out, compared, because I have Tohono friends, and men do the bulk work in traditional gardens. Get below the caliche and it saves water. Get rid of it.Most desert nations use it for dirt roads or concrete. I’m only going 3 feet deep, and that seems enough. A bro, retired from Army, joked I like digging trenches because I was Army 🙂
Folks around the area act like I’m doing them a big favor, taking brush and wood away for them. Man, they offer to pay! Nope, but thanks. It goes in the trenches to fast-track soil carbon. No need for any fertilizers because it rots fast enough, and insects are a minor problem, so far.
I have nothing planted above ground level. It takes too much water, and the soil heats up way too much in summer. Look at how the Hohokam worked, one canal, hand dug, 8 miles long. Plenty of mesquite planted all along the canal, and the gardens were below ground level. They thrived till the Great Drought. Only native stuff is at ground level to keep it from getting root rot. Sulfur helps prevent that.
I interplant. When something leaves, something else goes in, aka traditional Native American garden. Orchard and garden are the same. No figs? I planted one last year. It grew maybe 6″. Last in the winter, I dug a trench one the east and north sides, and found, guess what, Caliche a few inches under the place. After it leafed out, it grew 6 more inches and is still growing, the leaves twice as large as last year. Logs, brush, and a little cow pie a la gourmet, from a company in Tempe, land of doctors and lawyers 🙂 One cubic foot of it in the whole trench, but losing the caliche made a huge difference. Yeah, and a mess of coffee grounds mixed into the top layer, and the soil is soft, not like brick. Other beds are under wraps, now, with cardboard over them to kill the turnips (greens, not root) and garbanzo beans (high in nitrogen). But, the other beds the beans are knee high with stuff planted among them as an experiment. so far, very good. Garbanzos were planted in November (they don’t mind the cold, much), then in February. Next Feb, more of them and safflower, which gets a large seed a little smaller than maize kernels. Both like the high Ph, the cold when starting out, and heat and drought at the finish. Porter tomatoes, because they did best for me last year. Chimoyo chilis because they produced right into frosts, and one even survived winter. Grapes, one, a Thomson, the wind blasted. I hope it survives. My fault for not wrapping it during the red alert days.
What kind of cherries? I’d like Capulin, they’re good up to Zone 8, but not farther north. South, they bloom and produce even in Zone 11. I put in a Santa Rosa plum, a Whitney crab, Meyers lemon, and Wonder Pomegranate this spring. Last fall, three giant nopale, a gift from a neighbor, One rotted, too much water in the rains. I got Punta Banda tomatoes, but most of the seed didn’t come up. Again, too much water (should have used sand, not high organic matter starter soil). But, they’re supposed to produce even during the heat. But, every once in a while, a seedling shows.
I like currents, but worry about blister rust. But, ponderosa are common, not white pines. I have to get a few bushes, now, thanks to you, and try them.
Am located in Verde Valley. I get a lot of my seeds from Nativeseeds.org and some from Baker Creek. Let’s talk some more. firstname.lastname@example.org
Woodchips IN THE SOIL will rob some nitrogen as it decomposes. Woodchips ON TOP OF THE SOIL, as a mulch, are no problem. The microbes will decompose the woodchips slowly because they can access only the portion touching the soil. Never till in the woodchips. In fact, never use a tiller at all.
My myth #1: Mimicking conventional growing. I think the biggest problem with organic gardening is people try and do a one for one replacement of conventional products. They still feed the plant, kill the soil and kill weeds and pests. They just seek organic sources for the agents used. This is wrong. You must feed the soil, not the plant. You must prevent disease not treat it. You must attract beneficial insects not kill undesired ones. Stop thinking like a conventional grower. You must change your paradigm to be a successful organic grower.
My myth #2: Organic growing means to do nothing. Putting in a plant and doing nothing except maybe watering is not organic growing. It’s neglect. You can do this if you have a healthy soil ecosystem perhaps but nobody does.
Nitrogen loss is temporary, and replaced by a lot more nitrogen as the wood decays. I’m doing hugelkulture, sort of, and you know you have to pack a lot of wood into it to make it work. I got good results almost right off, those most of the wood is ponderosa pine, which resists decay. My soil is adobe clay mixed with coarse sand, and has layers of caliche. I do use a little herbicide because of bermuda grass, but very little, and only when the shovel doesn’t turn it into green manure 🙂 Bermuda grass is as bad as bamboo, able to send shoots thru heavy cardboard.
Most weeds that make it thru the mulch end up getting chopped, and allowed to regrow. Each time, that kills a lot of roots, making more humus, and as the plant grows, it grows new roots. Again, but it. If it becomes a problem, it gets cut off below the soil level, killing it. niio
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