Organic gardening is a form of gardening that tries to avoid the use of pesticides while providing soil fertility with local sources of nutrients rather than purchased fertilizers. Organic gardeners emphasize sustainability and the concept of “feeding the soil, not feeding the plant”.
Organic gardening was the only method of gardening before the recent development of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. With the recognition that heavy synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use may be detrimental to our environment, there has been a renewed interest in organic gardening over the last fifty years, both by homeowners and commercial farmers. Organic gardening is achieved by:
- Soil fertility that is enriched by the addition of green manures, minerals, compost, or by companion plants, rather than synthetic fertilizers.
- Control of animal pests that is achieved through natural methods, including crop rotation, physical removal of insects, introduction of predatory species, interplanting, and through the use of companion plants that may demonstrate pest-repellant characteristics.
- Unwanted plants (or weeds) that are suppressed without the use of synthetic herbicides. In addition to mechanical weed removal, barriers are often used to prevent weeds from reaching the light they need to grow. Generally called mulches, barriers include stones, leaf litter, straw or wood.
- Organic Gardening EB0648. WSU Extension bulletin EB0648, a detailed guide to organic gardening in Washington State.
- WSU Gardening in Washington/ Organic Gardening. WSU gardening web site listing publications for organic gardening.
- Soil Fertility in Organic Systems: A Guide for Gardeners and Small Acreage Landowners PNW646. This publication discusses the many types of fertilizers and soil amendments available for organic plant production.
- Organic Vegetable Gardening Techniques G6220. University of Missouri publication directed more towards the small farmer, yet a helpful guide to organic gardening.
- Organic Vegetable Gardening in Florida HS1215. University of Florida publication detailing home organic vegetable gardening. Includes information on organic fertilizers and soil amendments.
- Organic Weed Management. Cornell University web site with weed control options for the organic gardener.
- Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America. Cornell University web site which provides photographs and descriptions of biological control (or biocontrol) agents of insect, disease and weed pests in North America. It is also a tutorial on the concept and practice of biological control and integrated pest management (IPM).