Monday, June 30, 2014

Organic Gardening: Is It Worth It?


What would you think if someone told your there was an easier, cheaper, and healthier way to feed yourself? With rising food costs, that idea may start appealing to many. You can save money and energy by growing organic food at home. This article will discuss how this works.

We will talk about the economics of growing your own food, and the time and effort involved. Even if you live in a town or city, where complete self-sufficiency is all but impossible, you can still take simple steps to grow your own food.

How Much Does Growing Food Cost?

So is growing organic produce financially viable? Yes, because organic agriculture is based on harmony with nature, which does not require heavy machinery or chemical fertilizers. In fact, organic farmers promote soil fertility and structure with farming methods, not chemicals. The exception is natural fertilizers, which you can get from a lot of sources; and it can range from very cheap to even free. Not just soil fertility, but even pest control can be managed in the same general fashion.

Expanding on its economic efficiency, organic farming is known for its practice of seed saving. Heirloom seeds, as they are called, are relatively old, with one standard requiring that a strain has been started prior to 1945. One thing people can rely on, though, is the fact that heirloom seeds tend to be genetically consistent, meaning their offspring will be like the parents. Seeds in general are very cheap because they are abundant; and a single plant can produce multiple seeds after its flowering stage. And because heirloom seeds cannot be patented, you cannot be sued for using a particular kind of seed, which unfortunately is common with genetically modified seeds.

In direct contrast with organic farming is conventional agriculture. Farmers use synthetic chemicals for the purposes of soil fertility, pest and weed control. It is used with monoculture, a practice that discourages biodiversity. On top of that, GMO seeds are used under the premise that they have higher yield. Summarizing the problems with that idea, not only are these claims not substantiated, but GMOs are shown to be destructive since they are always sprayed profusely with pesticides.

Plants Take Time To Grow

The subheading says it all. Plants are slow growing, and as such, one must be patient if he is to grow food. In spite of that plants are still worth the time and effort you put into them. How so? Organic farming practices include the restoration of soil fertility, which cuts down on the time and money you spend on fertilizer. Conventional farming just sucks the soil dry and tries to compensate with chemical fertilizers, usually nitrogen.

Adding to the fact that organic farming saves time, you can make the most use of your time with successive and companion planting. Start with growing plants that take little time to grow—usually leafy greens, like lettuce. It takes a bare minimum of 30 days to grow, depending on variety. Arugula, another quick-growing vegetable, takes from 60-70 days to grow overall. So how does successive planting work in practice?

Successive planting refers to sowing seeds or rooting transplants in succession to each other at a set interval. For example, you can sow a number of seeds, repeating the process on another row of land after three weeks. This ensures that you do not run out of food for the whole season. By the time you harvest the first set of crops, the second row is already on its way to maturity, and so on. This makes for efficient use of time.

It Takes Work to Grow Food

Yes, it takes varying amounts of effort and cost to grow a plant. Factors such as resistance to disease, level of maintenance, and demands for water and sunlight, can affect how hard you have to work at it. Just remember that effort determines what you get out of the ground, so do not try to spare yourself a little work. You can reduce your workload, however, by becoming more efficient in how you do things. Experience will help you do just that. Also, some plants take more maintenance than others.

To summarize what we have discussed so far, even though plants take time and effort to grow, both can be conserved by becoming more creative with our methods. Before you can do that, however, you must do research on the plant in question. Try to pinpoint the specific variety you have, if possible. Each variety has a slightly different growth habit, size, shape, and other external features. Differences can also include flavor and texture, depending on the crop. One last thing to consider is that heavy feeding plants, which need a lot of nitrogen, are generally harder to grow.

What Is Organic Agriculture?

This topic has been saved for last, and for good reason. What do you notice about the organic farming methods? Is it how they do not use chemical fertilizers, sprayed pesticides, or GMO seeds? Organic agriculture, for those who are not aware, is the modern term for traditional farming techniques; such have been used for centuries to support our large population.

Methods such as crop rotation and cover crops have been in use for all of human history up to this point. Crop rotation fights disease by throwing off the rhythm of pathogens and making your plants less likely to grow sick and die. Cover crops help in much the same way, but by attracting beneficial microbes as well as insects, which act as biological pest control. Finally, you can rot cover crops before they flower to deposit nutrients into the soil.

Traditional agriculture also relies on the use of manure and compost for fertilizing the ground; worms help improve the drainage as well as leaving potassium behind; and mulch retains water. You can make mulch out of dried up leaves in the fall. With all this in mind, does organic farming really seem inferior to conventional? This article has only described a few methods at the organic farmer's disposal. Also keep in mind that, even when the word agriculture is used, you can apply most of these techniques at home, even in a small space, in containers.

SOURCES - crop rotation


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