“Yep…. it’s good!”
Some of my earliest memories are of listening for those sounds when my mom would open a can of a fruit or vegetable when preparing a meal. That sound meant the seal was good and the food inside was safe to eat. I may be biased, but there’s nothing better than home-canned fruit or vegetables! There is no comparison between home-grown food and what we buy at the store- in flavor or nutrition.
Sometimes, though, we don’t end up with an abundance of produce or veggies that taste good. Organic gardening promises to be the answer to all the problems. The buzz around organic gardening and heirloom varieties often leave gardeners shaking their heads trying to figure out how to remedy a problem they are facing without using conventional methods.
Have you ever found yourself in the dilemma of battling pests or diseases in your garden but not wanting to use a harmful chemical remedy?
Maybe you have put in a lot of time and energy only to have a small amount of bland produce.
‘Organic’ is toted as a miracle, but it is such a dividing term and can be confusing to understand. Somehow organic has become a term to communicate wholesome, healthy, and ideal. But the concept is also incredibly polarizing.
What do you think of when you hear the term organic?
- A joke?
- A way to regain health?
- A way to garden?
- Something that is chemical-free?
By definition, organic simply means that no man-made harmful chemicals were used in the production of the product or in how produce was grown. This is important because studies are finding that our bodies aren’t all that good at processing or eliminating those man-made chemicals. Over time that can lead to a build-up of toxins in our bodies that can cause some pretty serious problems. As gardeners, this creates an amazing opportunity. We get to decide how our food is grown and therefore
Choosing organic makes sense when you are struggling with poor health, especially when there’s no diagnosable medical reason for it. That’s what makes it so polarizing. It’s hard to understand someone’s seeming obsession with organic if you haven’t personally needed to address health issues.
But this isn’t a health blog. This is a gardening blog so you might be wondering where I’m going with this.
How does this relate to gardening, anyway?
As gardeners, we have the privilege of choice and control. Since we control how we garden, we can choose to use methods that don’t involve harmful chemicals. We can grow our own organic produce and even preserve it so that we can benefit during the winter season. We can raise fruit and vegetables that support and create good health for ourselves and our families. But we can take it one step farther. Gardening with organic methods is a great goal and can be beneficial while helping us save money. But to increase the nutritional value of our food, we need to go beyond organic. We have to do better than just avoid chemicals.
Organic only means something was grown or produced without chemicals.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the nutritional value is greater. Something can be grown in poor soil without chemicals and be called organic but it would be a nutritionally inferior vegetable. Organic doesn’t guarantee pest or disease-free, ideal nutrition, or amazing flavor. All of those things relate back to the health of the soil.
If a garden has poor soil, it is going to manifest more problems. It will struggle with
- Pest issues
- Plant growth issues
- Quality of produce
- Lack of flavor
- Small harvests.
All of those things can be remedied pretty easily with fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides, even using organic options, but you will end up caught in a trap of having to use them every year and throughout the season. They are more like a bandaid. You will always have to remedy the problem. It is possible to handle problems without harmful chemicals and still not have optimal results.
The best way to approach organic gardening is to take your garden beyond organic. Avoiding harmful chemicals isn’t enough. If you are going to garden with organic methods, you will need to go beyond organic to get the fantastic produce you are trying to grow.
What does ‘beyond organic’ even mean?
Taking your garden beyond organic means that you put your focus on building the soil so that it’s fertile and healthy. It means gardening in such a way that you are working with nature and mimicking the systems and rhythms God already built into nature. Gardening beyond organic is how to create an environment where plants thrive, are able to resist bugs and diseases, and develop amazing flavor with optimal nutrition.
How do you take your garden beyond organic?
Building the health of your soil is the main focus of gardening this way. You do this by adding manure, composting, and mulching. It also means utilizing companion planting, gardening by the moon, and crop rotations. These techniques are all found happening in nature in every ecosystem. Think of any wild ecosystem and you have plants doing their thing, going through the cycles of life, and supporting each other in various ways. There’s always enough water, nutrients, and shade/sun for the plants to coexist and thrive without human intervention.
With a little thought and planning, we can recreate these systems and rhythms within our own gardens and benefit from the way God created plants to work together. Of course, our gardens will need human intervention since we are growing vegetables that aren’t naturally found coexisting together. Recreating these naturally- occurring ecosystems is what it means to take your garden beyond organic.
What are the benefits?
For starters, you’re being a good steward of your piece of the earth. Gardening beyond organic allows you to reduce, reuse, and recycle as you turn your kitchen scraps and yard debris into compost to fertilize your garden. It definitely embraces a sustainable living lifestyle while resulting in food with optimal nutrition. Today’s soil is extremely depleted and our veggies aren’t as nutritious as the veggies our parents and grandparents ate. But when we steward our soil well and garden with beyond organic methods, our food will again nourish us.
Healthy soil provides nutrients to the plants resulting in healthy plants that can resist pests and diseases. It also does a better job retaining water and delivering it to the plants. That also contributes to optimal nutrition, amazing flavor, and proper development. No more stunted, misformed veggies!
Gardening beyond organic will allow the plants to be abundantly productive. That’s super helpful when you’re trying to feed a family and preserve food for the winter months! There’s nothing better than knowing you’re feeding your family highly nutritious food grown in a healthy way all year long.
One of the best benefits is minimal weeds. One of the most important components of taking your garden beyond organic is mulching, which also helps retain water, adds organic matter to the soil, and provides for weed control. Who doesn’t want fewer weeds, less time spent watering, and abundant produce??
Taking your garden beyond organic will result in:
- healthy soil
- optimally nutritious food
- less watering
- less weeding
- abundant produce.
Who doesn’t want that?! If I’m going to put forth the effort to have a garden, I definitely want to end up with those fantastic benefits!
And I still love listening for that Ppppsssss. POP!