GardenMama's Organic Strategies

Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Words and Terms • Organic. Anything that is or was ever alive. Organic gardening is a way of thinking and acting with purpose to grow beautiful, delicious plants for a lifetime. • Inorganic. Everything else. • Pragmatic. Organic gardening fits into every garden, even if tempered at times. • Sustainable. Replaceable within a reasonable time frame, cultivatable by humans. • Soil Food Web. Unique dynamic that results when plant roots encounter soil. • Organic Matter. Here, plant residues at any stage of decomposition including • Compost. The most versatile and useful organic matter, especially when it is home made. • Compost Spectrum Summary o Fresh cut green or brown plant debris such as leaves and grass clippings o Leaf mold and Mulch – dark materials but recognizable parts o Compost happens – dark brown pieces of unidentifiable plant matter Challenges to Organic Gardening in the South • Fact: We live where the ground never freezes and the bugs don’t die. • Perceptions: Traditions, Familiarity, and Stereotypes • Realities: strength in numbers, more and better products Organic Strategies • Site and Microclimate: sunny, shady, wet, dry and your nooks and crannies • Soil that drains, Water that works, Attitude of action GMama’s Mix: Start with 1 big bag bark-based or peat-based potting soil/planting mix. o Dump all of it into a wheelbarrow & use the empty bag to measure: o ½ bag ground bark or leaf mold, ½ bag compost (yours or store bought) o ½ bag manure if pots will be outdoors all year, and ¼ bag coarse sand. o Add 1 cup each granular fertilizer and garden lime. Tailor as needed • Smart Plants, Good Timing, and Tolerance: learn from history and current science Pest Control Strategies • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): identify and observe, then control consciously • Truth and Consequences. Organic pesticides are lethal, too, with effects on soil food web and beneficial insects. Slower, less residual, may require repetition or a 1-2 punch • Physical Controls and Strategies o Exclusion, traps, and oil sprays o Rotation and Succession: Prevent overworked soil and confuse pests o Green Manure Crops: Prevent weeds, add nitrogen, use up old seeds o Solarization: 6mil clear plastic + 6 weeks @80F = weed control o Stomp and Squish: Never forget to laugh!
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