I have learned everything that I know about gardens from gardens. Nature, itself is the best teacher, but you have to pay attention in order to learn the lessons.
People throw around the word “organic” a lot these days. It is certainly trendy these days to grow organic food, and to eat organic produce. It gives us warm feelings knowing about “organic” practices, and paying more for specially grown organic foods. In this article, however, I am going to talk about why not to practice necessarily organic gardening, but instead why to practice “natural” gardening, and what the difference is.
Natural gardening means we are adhering to and are inspired by the wisdom of mother nature. We hold a deep respect for natural systems. Mother nature has worked out a fool-proof system over millennia that does not require human intervention in order to grow amazing, natural and (by default) organic foods. If we know what our gardens truly need, then they will grow in a way that limits the attention we need to give them. It turns out that natural gardening is also lazy gardening, a natural benefit to this approach.
How to garden naturally?
Feed your soil, not your plants. Leave the leaves as a food source for microbes and worms, add in home made compost, which is full of humus. Humus sequesters carbon and greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil where it is harmless. Humus also stores water for plant roots and creates an amazing soil structure that enables roots to forage for space, water and nutrients. Feed the soil with biodegradable materials, and let nature take care of the rest.
Why Not Organic?
Organic doesn’t necessarily benefit the health of a garden. There are organic pesticides, for example, that destroy natural systems so that our ladybugs still starve. Ladybugs need to eat, so if you kill off their food supply, even through “organic” means, the lovely ladybug will also die, or move in to your neighbour’s yard, meaning bug control will be an ongoing problem in your garden. The war will continue, where you try to eradicate aphids year after year.
Furthermore, organic fertilizers might not have been designed specifically for your soil. This means the minerals being added may not benefit your garden, and you may be feeding your garden ingredients that cannot be put to good use. This practice may cause a tight soil structure, for example, which can suffocate plant roots. Too much magnesium in Calgary soils will create just this situation. It might be organic, but this doesn’t mean it will be beneficial, and create a sustainable environment.
Pay attention to natural systems. Watch what happens when humans don’t intervene and be amazed by the wisdom of mother nature. Practice gardening naturally, and enjoy more time on your patio sipping lemonade instead of battling with invading species as a result.
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