Do you want to eat the freshest fruit and vegetables everyday but not quite sure of those labeled “organic” in the supermarket? As awareness for healthy living increases, a lot of people are opting to eat healthy. Sad fact is we are not sure whether the goods that we buy at the friendly vegetable and fruit stands are really “organic”.
Sure, we all want to live longer and lead more productive lives. We understand that getting fit is achieved not only through exercise but also though proper diet. Optimum health does not stop with the absence of diseases but rather allowing us to embrace life to its fullest.
But do we really understand what organic means? A lot of people have a misconception about this term. Most of us think that when something comes from plants (such as food supplements or diets) it is organic. It may be plant-based. But organic?
Organic plants are those that have not been exposed to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides – something which can hardly be the case for commercial production. While there are a few companies who follow purely organic farming methods and are certified by regulating bodies, a lot more do not. This is where my misgivings begin when it comes to products and produce claiming to be organic.
This is what brings me to organic gardening. I love gardening and am fortunate to have married someone who loves plants and gardening as well. And because we want our produce to be purely organic, we have a pit where we create our organic compost. In our backyard we have raised vegetable beds and an area where we nurture our vegetable seedlings. Organic gardening is a fun and interesting activity, and it may be simpler than you think.
As I have said earlier, organic gardening means zero synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. So how do the plants thrive without using these chemicals? Here are very simple tips to help you out:
- Having authentic organic vegetable seeds from a reputable source is a very good start. However, if you prefer to get seeds from your existing plants, make sure that you collect them from its first fruit, when the plant is at its healthiest
- Make certain that your soil is in excellent condition. A simple test to know that your soil is good is by digging a 10-inch deep hole and see if your soil will hold its shape under slight pressure. This is an indication of porosity, a necessary characteristic to make your plant grow strong roots. This allows water and air circulation and the friendly earthworms to do their job too
- You can also use your organic compost to improve your soil. Organic compost is very simple to make. You can dig a pit (if you have the space) or have a container where you can place your kitchen and garden waste – vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells, dried leaves, chopped decayed wood, and other everyday waste you find in your kitchen and garden. However, do not include meat or cooked food as these can attract pests. Now, you not only have a clean kitchen and yard; you also have organic material to make your plants grow healthy
- Problem with bugs? Your kitchen is a haven for organic gardening materials! When you need an insecticide, make one. Most insects respond well chili and garlic insecticide. We use them for our citrus plants and it is very effective for killing bugs. Mix a tablespoon of chili powder, 5-6 cloves of crushed garlic and water, let steep overnight. The following morning, you have an effective and natural insecticide!
- Hear about crop rotation? Do not plant the same variety in succession. That means when you have just harvested your tomatoes in a certain area, do not do a second round. Make sure to let your soil breathe by planting say, legumes next. Legumes are good for restoring your soil’s condition. Because of this they are often referred to as green manure
- Small space? You don’t have to start big. Make use of containers and recycle. Even empty water bottles make great pots.
We are all aware that toxic chemical residues found in fruits and vegetables cause some of the dreaded diseases we suffer today. When we do organic gardening, we are sure that what we serve our love ones is safe and healthy food. But more than that, we are doing our share in keeping in tune with the natural environment. And what more joy can there be than knowing that you made a difference, how little it may be, in keeping this earth a more livable place.