It used to be that if you told someone you were an organic gardener – they looked at you as though you had to be some sort of crazed hippie, separated from the rest of the “normal” world.

The beauty of organically grown produce
The beauty of organically grown produce

Thankfully, organic gardening has now become all the rage!

In fact, millions of regular, every day backyard organic gardeners across the globe are growing their own food without the use of dangerous chemicals and sprays – and finding out that organic gardening is not only the “healthy” option – but far less expensive than using all of those costly fertilizers, sprays and more!

The simple fact is that growing organically is not only better for the health of your family and the land – but for the health of your pocketbook as well. And it goes without saying of course – the flavor of organically grown vegetables simply can’t be beat!

Its a good feeling to know that everything grown on our farm is based upon pure organic principals
It’s a good feeling to know that everything grown on our farm is based upon pure organic principles

Sadly, many of us know all too well the higher cost of organic vs. conventionally grown produce when it comes to purchasing in your local supermarket.

However, that same concept couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to growing your own organic garden vs. one using costly (and dangerous) fertilizers, pesticides and sprays. In fact –  you can save big by growing organically!

The Inexpensive Organic Principals:   Compost, Cover Crops and Mulch  – The Keys To Healthy Soil

The deep dark green foliage of our strawberry plants grown - all organically grown of course :)
The deep dark green foliage of our strawberry plants grown – all organically grown of course 🙂

The key to a healthy garden is rich fertile soil – and for the organic gardener – there are many ways to create that healthy soil without spending a lot of big bucks – and in the process save yourself even more money by never having to buy those expensive synthetic fertilizers again.

Compost and Composting

Compost is the backbone of the organic garden – it is quite simply the best natural all-purpose soil enhancer / fertilizer you can put into your garden.

It is also extremely easy and inexpensive to make in your own backyard.  Kitchen scraps like vegetable peels, coffee grounds, egg shells – as well as yard waste such as grass clippings and leaves can all be used to make great compost for your garden.

Compost - the key to a successful organic garden!
Compost – the key to a successful organic garden!

In fact – with a little work – you can find plenty of materials  in your own community to make all of the compost you need – for free!  (see: 8 Tips For Finding Free Compost Materials)

Compost is teeming with nutrients –  By adding compost – you are in essence recharging your soil – and eliminating the need to use artificial fertilizers.

There is a reason organic gardeners refer to compost as “Black Gold”. To keep our garden full of natural nutrients – we work a 2 to 3” top-dressing of compost into each of our raised bed rows each year.  Then, at planting time – we will put another shovel-full or so in our planting holes. We use it one more time to top dress and mulch around our garden plants. It not only provides great weed control and moisture retention – but the compost slowly releases additional nutrients when it rains or when we water – providing a natural fertilizer for the plants.  (see: How to Make Compost – Fast!)

Cover Crops / Green Manure Crops

A thick cover crop of annual rye in our garden last fall
A thick cover crop of annual rye in our garden last fall

Cover crops and green manure crops are a great way to build soil structure and fertility into your garden – at little cost. When planted each fall or during the off-season of the garden –  cover crops can help prevent erosion of your top soil, prevent weed seeds from becoming established in your garden – and most importantly – replenish your soil’s nutrients when turned back into the soil.  Cover crops play a big part in creating healthy soil that is full of life and structure.

We can cover our entire garden with a rich fertile cover crop of annual rye or clover each fall for less than $10 – a far cry from what we would spend on using synthetic fertilizers that contribute nothing to your soil’s structure. (see: The Basics of Cover Crops)

Mulch:

Mulch is another great inexpensive friend of the organic gardener!

Mulching around your plants pays off in many ways!
Mulching around your plants with pays off in many ways!

Mulch performs 4 important and valuable functions for an organic garden. It insulates the soil, helps to retain moisture, suppresses weeds, all the while enhancing your soil as it breaks down.  The best part – mulch doesn’t have to be expensive.  Compost, shredded or whole leaves, grass clippings, shredded bark, wood chips and straw all are excellent mulches, and many can be had for free! (see: The Power of Mulch In The Garden)

Knowing What You Are Eating…

A day's harvest from the farm last summer - always a good feeling knowing what is in (and what is not) your food!
A day’s harvest from the farm last summer – always a good feeling knowing what is in (and what is not) your food!

I think more than anything else – it is an incredible feeling to walk the rows of our garden and pick a sugar snap pea, a cucumber, or a tomato – and eat it right there on the spot – without a worry of a single trace of a chemical on any of them!  Besides, I have always wondered if the chemicals are so “safe” to use – then why are we supposed to wear gloves, masks, and in some case a respirator when applying?

That’s why whether it’s “cool” or not – We will be organic gardeners for life.

If you would like to receive our DIY & Gardening Tips every Tuesday – be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Happy Gardening – Organically!

Jim and Mary
Old World Garden Farms

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