Y’all should probably catch up on these two previous posts if you haven’t read them yet, as they detail a good chunk of the background knowledge that sets up for this post.
- Gardening with Gabe (5/22/2017) The Basics or On Gardening
- Gardening with Gabe (5/24/2017) Digging In or On Organics
Episode 3: Practical Organics
Alright my dude! We’ve talked extensively about what organics aren’t. Today, we’re talking about what organic gardening is and how you can do it without being a radicalized vegan who injects celery shots because it’s the only way they feel anything anymore. That’s a joke, obviously. There’s nothing wrong with being vegan, Really 0.
Anyhow, here is our definition for organic gardening:
Gardening using practices that aim to promote positive soil health and beneficial biology and combatting pests and diseases without the use of any toxic additives or ~cides (pesticides, herbicides, etc.).
Let’s expand on that a little more. I’ve bolded the key phrases for you, so I won’t bother relisting them. I’ll start with “using practices“. This is significant because it places the core emphasis on what you do instead of what you buy. This means that organics don’t have to be expensive (in fact, they can be dirt cheap). We’ll get to specific practices soon, but for now it mostly means: Don’t use nutrients; spring for organic potting mix, and water with dechlorinated water if you can.
The second two go hand in hand: positive soil health and beneficial biology are key in organic gardening. If you don’t take advantage of the soil ecology and the beneficial biology that keeps it all running, then you’re not really reaping the benefits of growing in soil. Soils are not all created equally, and the best soils are the ones with a healthy soil food web established 1. Essentially, you want to do things that feed the food web instead of trying to feed the plant directly. This differs from the old scheme, where the idea is to feed the plants directly mineral based nutrients.
This also means that you have to avoid doing things that would hurt the soil biology, like adding salt-based nutrients to the soil (which is the practical reason to avoid nutrients). This is why the definition includes the no ~cides addendum. Anything toxic enough to kill a targeted thing reliably will also kill anything less resilient. This usually means that when you use toxins, you’re killing your soil buddies. Don’t kill your soil buddies.
Now that we’ve got our guidelines, let’s take you down the lowest effort route of doing organic gardening (in containers, obviously).
- Go to the hardware store and buy:
- A pot
- A bag of organic (OMRI listed) potting soil
- Put soil in pot
- Plant seeds as per back of package
- Water, but not too heavily (you should be fine as long as you’ve got drainage holes on your pot)
- You’re now an organic gardener.
So yeah, it really is that simple.
But as with anything, being able to do something is not the same as doing it well, and that is what we aim for at Saint Gabe’s. And really, if you can’t outdo the people who aren’t taking care of their soil, what’s the point? As far as I see it, there are two main routes for high level container gardening to go, which will be detailed in our next episode of Gardening with Gabe.
0. For those still interested, please send hate mail to:
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-1100
1. The article is from Fine Gardening (Written by Ann Lovejoy), and is fantastic. I recommend reading it.