Organic gardening is all about going with nature’s flow – Springfield News-Leader
Q: What is organic gardening? Do I have to let insects eat all my plants or have unattractive flower beds?
– D.K., Republic
Answered by Ann Kynion, master gardener of Greene County: The short answer is that organic gardening means not using synthetic chemical products in order to maintain natural purity in the garden and the products we harvest.
Organic gardening does not mean you let everything go, but rather you manage it in a way that is consistent with how nature functions.
You can have beautiful, healthy plants using organic gardening techniques.
This avoidance of synthetic chemicals refers to pesticides and fertilizers. Products made from natural components can still be used, as well as employing a variety of organic gardening practices.
Ideally, organic gardening methods replenish the resources as it makes use of them. Composting plant material back into the soil or planting legumes to add nitrogen are ways gardeners can replenish their soil.
The “mantra” of organic gardeners is: “Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants.”
Organic gardening is also controlling pests and diseases without chemicals and using alternative methods including inter-planting and diversity. (A square-foot garden is one example.)
Other methods include mulching to prevent weeds, conserve water and prevent erosion, as well as companion planting and preventive steps using natural products.
Methods to deal with insects and pests depend on the life cycle of the insect and other factors. Barriers (floating rows covers) are helpful when preventing flying insects from landing and laying eggs. Sticky traps are another alternative.
Organic gardening can focus on attracting other insects and larger animals that can prey on the insect pests. For example, birds will munch on grubs.
Learn more on the MU extension website http://extension.missouri.edu/ under organic gardening. Additional information with a month-by-month calendar is at http://www.soilassociation.org/groworganic. Other resources include the Missouri Organic Association at missouriorganic.org and the local Springfield Organic Gardening Club. (For meeting times contact firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Q: I am gardening on land owned by my great-great-grandparents. Would that qualify as a Century Farm?
– J.S., Crane
Answered by David Burton, Greene County Extension county program director: The short answer is yes. If your farm land has been in your family since Dec. 31, 1914, you can apply to University of Missouri Extension to have it recognized as a Missouri Century Farm regardless of how you are using the land.
Application deadlines must be received by May 15 and there is a cost. Guidelines and qualification details are at http://extension.missouri.edu/centuryfarm or you can call MU Extension Publications toll-free at 1-800-292-0969.
Readers can pose questions or get more information by calling 417-881-8909 and talking to one of the trained volunteers staffing the Master Gardener Hotline at the University of Missouri Extension Center in Greene County located inside the Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, MO 65807.
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