Thinking of Growing Your Own? Go Organic!

With all of the talk about the rising cost of food and the support of locally grown, sustainable food coming from the Obama Administration, i.e., the groundbreaking on the People’s Garden at the USDA and the possibility of an organic food garden at the White House you might be thinking about jumping on the bandwagon and growing your own.


Since spring is just around the corner, it makes it an even better time to get started on your own fruit and vegetable garden. However, if you’ve never grown your own you might be wondering where to start and worrying that gardening might be bad for the environment.


A solution to both of these issues is to grow organically. But what exactly is organic gardening? As with anything that becomes trendy, the term organic has come to mean different things to different people. There are those people who define it in very narrow terms and for some people this may make it seem hard, if not impossible, to go organic.


Organic Gardening magazine offers a very simple definition. It defines organic gardeners as those who “don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants and that think of plants as part of a whole system within nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife, and even insects.”


Basically, if you begin with the premise that gardening is part of a whole system, your goal as a gardener is to minimize the disruption of the natural system and to continually replenish any resources the garden uses.


The most fundamental way to do this is to practice good, basic gardening methods. The most important of these is “feeding” the soil, by providing fertility to the soil using natural sources of nutrients whenever possible. In organic gardening, soil is the most important component. It is the source of the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.


For those who interpret organic gardening in its most literal sense, this means adding organic matter or decaying plants wastes like grass clippings, leaves, and vegetable scraps from the lawn, garden, or kitchen in the form of compost. While compost is considered the ideal organic matter for garden soil, it’s not for everybody. Organic soil amendments and fertilizers are available at local nurseries.


Another important component is to use plants that are best suited to the site you are planting them in. Choose plants that are adapted to your climate such as native plants because they are not heavily dependent on fertilizer or lots of water and are adapted to your climate.


Other key components of organic gardening include making sure to use healthy plants because are they are less susceptible to disease, mulching, using the right irrigation system, and weeding.


Organic gardening also involves the use of natural, safe methods of pest control including crop rotation, companion planting, and introducing beneficial insects. 


It’s become easier to go organic because many garden supply companies are now providing more nontoxic, natural controls for pests and disease for the organic gardener. Gardeners can also find an increased number of disease-resistance plants at local nurseries.

You will also find that organic gardening is not only better for the garden and the environment, it also means less work for you.




Leslie E.
Leslie E9 years ago

I have been gardening organically since 1978. Not only does this practice turn your soil into a good, rich, moisture-retaining medium, but there is a gradual reduction in the number of insects and diseases in your garden too! It is now a pleasure to turn my soil in the Spring, and my job gets easier every year!

Kim J.
Kimberly J9 years ago

I live in Florida & our soil is sand & has no or very few nutrients in it. I have to add fertilizer, peat moss, top soil & cow manure before planting or nothing but weeds & crab grass will grow.

Judi G.
Judith G9 years ago

Thanks Emily! I will have to check that out!

Emily L.
Emily L9 years ago

There's an amazing program in San Francisco that connects small urban growers with businesses and individuals who are looking for fresh, organic produce. It's a fantastic way to monetize your garden and benefit your community. Consider starting something like it where you live! Here's the link:

Judith U.
Judith U.9 years ago

My mother loves to plant, even though we have a small lot we were able to put plants all around our house using plastic from mineral water, used bucket, pots, and used cans. Somebody gave her some seed, thinking it was a cucumber seed, she planted it on a pot but found out that is was a "upo". She was so happy when she was able to harvest a very long and large upo almost as high as her 5 yr. old grand daughter. It was a very good experience indeed.

Alison Glass
Alison Glass9 years ago

You do not need a huge garden to grow organic produce, I have a friend who uses window boxes and plant pots to grow lettuice, tomatoes and herbs!! The flavour and the improved nutritional value makes organic the only way to grow. If you can't grow your own consider going to a Farmer's market and checking out localy grown organic produce.
See if there is a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, you could join, where you get to help out on the farm , doing weeding, planting, harvesting. This is an incredible experience for children to see the plants grow.

Anant Raj
Past Member 9 years ago

Quite useful information about organic gardening

Jonathan L.
Past Member 9 years ago

For those of us who are in an urban setting i came across a really great project I thought was very inspiring by submersible design.

Its focus was growing urban farms and window gardens. We are considering converting some of our office/window space to be used as an experimental urban garden.

It also occurred to us that it helps to really push for more local, seasonal and fresh foods to be used so our CEO, Liz Neumark, created the 100 mile menu ( as the title suggest we focus on using foods that are produced within 100 miles of New York City. I encourage anyone else in the food industry to do the same.

Jonathan Levy
Director of Innovation
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