Organic Farming Blog

GREEN MANURE – Working for You and Your Soil.

By: organicfarmingblog, 7:19 AM GMT on April 30, 2014

greenmanurepix4 300x218 GREEN MANURE – Working for You and Your Soil.

Photo by: http://bit.ly/1fwLquN


 

Ancient Greece and China recognized the importance of green manure and has been practicing it for more than two thousand years. It was introduced to North America by colonists coming from Europe.

Leaving your soil unattended and open to the elements will cause it to dry and erode. One way to prevent this is to practice green manure planting. If it sounds new to you, well, it is basically the process of growing certain plant and then being dug into the soil to improve its nutrient and quality for the next crop. Green manure also improves the soil texture, the topsoil depth and its capacity in holding water. One other benefit is that weeds will find it difficult to set in simply because the green manure has already covered the ground.

Growing green manure may seem difficult, but actually it’s not. It is even very cheap when you save the seed you gather every year. Besides it gives you a good daily exercise! Before rolling up your sleeves and start getting dirty, you have to know some equally important things like the types of green manure to use and the planting season.

There are two types of green manures, one is called Legumes – which grabs nitrogen in the atmosphere by its roots and the Non-legumes – which are all the other regular green manures. Whichever you choose will depend on the soil and the season you plan to grow like for winter and spring.

The best time to plant green manure is when the rain is about to come in order to keep your planted seeds moist during germination. Spread the seed evenly and rake the soil back, making sure that the seeds are covered well for germination and protected from birds. When it is three months old, till or mow them down before they start seeding and eventually becoming weeds, just let them decompose in the soil.

Cover crops give the same benefits to the soil just like common composting but it’s far better. It can fertilize large acres of land cheaper and easier. Just imagine hauling and spreading tons of compost. You cannot eat compost but the produce of some cover plants like peas and beans can be eaten. Green manure attracts good insects. It assists in controlling diseases in the soil and even from nearby plants. Roots of certain legumes can supply acres of topsoil with tons of atmospheric nitrogen after they are mowed down. Regular compost can do none of these.

There you have it, whether as a living or a decaying plant, green manure works for you!

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HYDROPONIC – Future Farming System from the Past

By: organicfarmingblog, 2:00 PM GMT on April 18, 2014

hydroponics 4 300x207 HYDROPONIC – Future Farming System from the Past

Picture courtesy of: http://www.urbangardensweb.com/2011/11/16/nyc-clas sroom-in-an-urban-rooftop-farm/


Hydroponics originates from two ancient Greek words, “hydros” meaning water and “ponics” meaning work or labor.

Let’s have a short history about hydroponics.

Do you know that this concept has been used for thousands of years?  Really!  You may have heard of the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” built around 600 B.C. and the “Floating Gardens of China” in the 13th century?  Well, both are believed to have functioned based on the principle of hydroponics so it’s actually a technology borrowed from the past.

It was until the 17th century that scientists started experimenting with the idea of a soil-less gardening.  The research was started by Sir Francis Bacon and was posthumously published in 1627.  This triggered surges of intensive research in Hydroponics from different countries and produced astonishing results.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of Hydroponics.  As the human population grows and the land for crop production declines, this soil-less farming is a welcome relief.  Hydroponics definitely has several advantages over the traditional soil gardening.  It offers us the capacity to grow our food where traditional farming is not possible like deserts, places with dry climates and remote places with very limited space.  With hydroponics, plants can be stacked to save on space.  In fact, you can place them on multiple-story buildings or rooftops.  The growth rate of hydroponic plants as compared to soil plants is much faster under the same growing conditions.  Even the plant yield is higher. Plants require very minimal energy to find and break down their food.  This saved up energy is then used to help them grow much faster. The nutrients mixed with water are sent directly to the root system of the plant which is delivered several times each day. With hydroponics, plants encounter fewer diseases and bug infestations so they grow happier and healthier.

Hydroponics also offers significant benefits to the environment.  It requires very little pesticides and therefore no harmful chemicals are released to pollute the air. This system has lesser water requirements than soil based farming. No water is wasted because hydroponics recycles the water including the nutrient solution. This is good news to areas where water is scarce.

Perhaps you’d like to start a soil-less garden where you can grow your own vegetables. It does not have to be a full scale hydroponic garden but just the size to let you experience the fun of growing plants in water.

How about growing some basil in your kitchen?

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NO – DIG GARDENING FOR BETTER PRODUCE… THE EASY WAY

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:18 AM GMT on April 25, 2014


 
Nodig pix4 300x199 NO – DIG GARDENING FOR BETTER PRODUCE… THE EASY WAY

Photo by: http://bit.ly/1nLZ9xx


No-dig gardening is another alternative where you can grow organic vegetables. The idea started in the seventies as a way of reducing effort and at the same time firing up a garden that is highly fertile and efficient.

Setting up this type of garden is quick and simple to make and can be done anywhere. In a limited space, you can have it in a box or concrete frame. For larger areas like your backyard, you can have it over a lawn. The nice thing about this type of gardening is that even if your soil is not ideal to grow your vegetables, you can create your own ideal soil mix. Normally, a no-dig garden is composed of different layers of organic matters stacked up to create a raised garden plot that is very fertile. As the organic matters de-compost, it becomes a nutritious black soil that will attract helpful micro-organisms, fungi and worms to muddle up the compost into the soil.

Since no digging is done, the soil remains compact and you can walk on the side path of the garden bed without stepping on the productive soil. In this way, you get better produce with less labor and in the shortest possible time.

Unlike the traditional gardening where digging takes much of your time and effort, No-dig gardening lets you work at a more relaxed pace. One of the reasons why you dig when starting your garden plot is to remove those annoying weeds. Do you know that by just restricting their growth, you can do it in half the time and without lifting a fork? Weeds depend much on sunlight and by denying them of light they die, it’s that simple. Covering the growing beds with thick layer organic materials will break down weeds underneath it. Try chicken manure, it is best when working on areas with weeds.

Here’s how to start a simple, no-dig vegetable garden. First step is to look for a suitable area for your garden, preferably matted with annual weeds or grass (they are easier to get rid of). Then cover the entire bed you plan to grow your veggies with organic materials like papers or hays about four inches deep and water the area well. Then you put whatever compost or organic fertilizer is available around. Make sure to cover your growing area with thick layers of organic matter to act as mulch and to prevent weeds from growing through. When everything is set, you may start laying your vegetable seeds by simply pulling aside portion of the mulch. Be sure to add some compost to each hole you made.

Do you like a “less work” garden? Then try no-dig gardening!

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URBAN FARMING – An Eco-Trend

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:25 AM GMT on April 23, 2014


 
urban farming pix2 300x225 URBAN FARMING – An Eco Trend

Picture courtesy of: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-housing-pr oject-lot-turned-farm-article-1.1376459


Having a connection with the plant is important and people find a lot of reasons why.  Certainly, there are those who will do gardening for health reasons or just for the fun of it. Others simply want to grow their own food because they want them fresh and safe.

 

Urban gardening or farming has been around for some time now.  The “Hanging Garden” in the ancient city of Babylon is one fine example. People In the medieval time would create their plots around the edges of their town which many think is where “allotment gardening” has evolved. During World War II, fresh fruits and vegetables in this country were produced in the Victory Gardens.

 

Urban farming is an offshoot of organic farming which helped city dwellers and consumers with foods that are grown locally.  It improves the health by lessening the risk of obesity and heart disease of residents and at the same time keeping them safe.

 

With urban farming people (especially the children) get to appreciate how our foods are grown and where they come from. Just imagine having your own vegetable patch in your backyard and grown organically.  There’s nothing better than freshly picked veggies straight to your kitchen. If everyone has an access to food with good quality, nutritious and affordable, the problem of hunger and obesity in most of our states would be reduced or perhaps eliminated.

 

With the increasing demand for organic foods by local grocery stores and restaurants, urban farming is definitely the way to go. Do you know that farm produce is laden with chemical preservatives when transported over long distance?  Their nutritional value is lost so you really don’t get them fresh anymore. What is good about having locally grown food is how the local economy is stimulated.  Energy usage is reduced together with the cost associated with the packaging, storage and in transporting the goods. More significantly, the money spent on local farming stays only within the local economy.

 

Urban farming also provides a sense of community and pride to local residents. It adds greenery to cities attracting tourists and bring jobs to the underserved areas. Urban farming also helps reduce stress on the sewer system usually caused by storm water runoff. It is an ecological program that is giving rooftops and unused space a new purpose and meaning. Some city planners and architects are now incorporating urban farming in their designs like vertical farms and rooftop gardens. Soon, city dwellers will be seeing more birds, butterflies, bees and other insects again.

 

Try growing organic tomatoes in containers today! You’ll be surprised how easy it is! Enjoy!

 

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BOKASHI – Composting The Japanese Way

By: organicfarmingblog, 9:08 AM GMT on April 21, 2014

Bokashi Pic31 300x223 BOKASHI – Composting The Japanese Way
Picture courtesy of http://shaunsbackyard.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/ 11/Bokashi-Bokashi-Scraps-021.jpg


 

Have you heard of the word “Bokashi”?   It is a farming practice used by Japanese farmers centuries ago that makes use of microorganisms to quickly breakdown organic wastes.  With the discovery of microorganisms by Dr. Teruo Higa who specializes in agricultural research, Bokashi fermentation was made even better by introducing the right combination of microbes. This ensured better quality and larger harvest of produce that are free of harmful chemicals.

As commonly thought of typical composting, Bokashi is actually more of a process of fermentation. The procedure does not require use of air to ferment the organic matters and this is what makes the whole process odorless. It’s good to have one even in the kitchen. You may ask about those pestering insects and animals gathering around your bin and messing up the place. Well, the nice thing about this system is that it can be sealed completely so you don’t have to worry about them.

Bokashi is an excellent way of adding nutrients to your garden instead of throwing them to landfills. With this process you can include food scraps that normally cannot be added to regular composting method like dairy products, meat, cheese and scraped cook foods.

Throughout the whole fermenting process, a certain liquid from the organic matter accumulates and can be drained. This liquid is commonly called as Bokashi Tea (which I am sure is not the type you would like to take a sip!). There are two ways on how you can use this amazing tea… as a great fertilizer and as a highly effective drain cleaner (goodbye to chemical based household cleaners).

The fermenting process is rather quick. Covering the food waste with some rich soil that contain microorganisms would start the process by quickly breaking down the organic waste that is fermented and not rotten.  In two weeks’ time, you’ll yourself a bin full of highly nutritious Bokashi organic matter.

By this phase of the fermentation process, the scraps have been broken down into nutrients which the plants can use directly. This organic matter can now be mixed with garden soil and depending on the soil temperature, it will take more or less a couple of months to be completely fused with the soil. Since no aeration or soil turning is needed, no other attention or caring is required.  Another great idea is to add it in worm compost if you have one. Surely, the worms will love it and will work more efficiently.

Let’s take care of our environment by keeping wastes out of landfills and start recycling at home… the Bokashi way!

 

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Mulching – Why It’s Good For Your Garden

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:23 AM GMT on April 16, 2014

mulch3 300x199 Mulching – Why It’s Good For Your Garden

Picture courtesy of: http://www.suzys-garden.com/images/grow-cucumbers- mulch.jpg


Mother Nature invented mulch. We only adopted it after realizing the great benefit it gives in reducing waste and thereby improving the environment. Mulching can be traced as far back to prehistoric farmers using stone as a protective covering for their plants. For centuries gardeners have realized the value of mulch in reducing evaporation, preventing erosion, maintaining soil temperature and controlling weeds.

Mulching is one of the keys to conserving the most precious resource, our water supplies.

Let me show you one interesting fact. Here in the US, each household uses an average of 240,000 liters of water a year and an estimated 36% of that is used on gardens. That’s almost twice the size of an average swimming pool! This is where mulching can help us reduce the water we use for our garden. Do you know that by merely integrating a mulching plan in our garden activity, we can save around 75% of water?

But mulching is more than just saving water. It is the secret to a low garden maintenance and here are some of the reasons why:

√ It is an incredible weed suppressant.

√ It attracts micro-organisms and earthworms into the ground.

√ It provides plant growth elements and nutrients.

√ It conserves moisture in soil.

√ It keeps the soil temperatures warm at night and cool at daytime.

√ It helps plant’s roots to push deeper for food.

√ It protects and shades seeds from sunlight.

√ It prevents pest from laying eggs near the plant roots.

There are some factors you need to consider in order to know how much mulch to use and when to apply them, factors like the type of soil, type of mulch to use, amount of rainfall and how much weed / pests is under the ground.

Although non-organic mulches are readily available, Organic mulches are still the best to use because of their eco-friendly properties. They come in wood barks, cacao hulls, compost, hay, fresh leaves and more.

There are also some negative effects when covering your soil with mulch. Without sunlight, it’s impossible for seeds to germinate and the sprouts will have difficulty pushing through the mulch. Now you’ll definitely need some planning here. Heavy rain can make the ground soggy for several days and let the soil dry, you need to rake off the mulch. And there are the slugs, cutworms and bugs that love moist and dark places, in this case you only use a thin layer of mulch. You need to consider these positive and negative effects to get the result you want. Try doing your homework first before you start mulching.

You want to improve the “look” of your garden? Try decorating it with mulch. It’s a good exercise too.

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WEED CONTROL – The Eco-Friendly Way

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:47 AM GMT on April 14, 2014

weed3 300x225 WEED CONTROL – The Eco Friendly Way

http://www.extension.org/p ages/61065/weeds-in-water-conserving-landscapes#.U 0fUi_mSxWE /Flickr


Let’s talk about weeds, not the one you might have in mind, I’m referring  to those out of place, unwanted  plants found all over the world.  They are classified by three life cycles, annual, biennial and perennial. There are two types of weeds and I bet you didn’t know that.  There are the grassy weeds whose leaves are narrow, upright and sprout only one leaf from the seed.  The other types are the broadleaf weeds which have flat leaves.  Their leaves have a netlike vein and they grow two leaves from the seed.

So, why do we need to control them?  Well, aside from being unsightly, they deprive the desirable plants of water, soil nutrients and light. They also scratch and irritate your skin and harbor insects.

Weed seed can easily spread from neighboring areas often by livestock, hay, vehicles and farm equipment.  And the most vulnerable to weed invasion are disturbed grounds where useful vegetation has been taken out. If you want to keep these weed off you properties it is best to do vegetative restoration.
Here are some practical tips on weed control without using herbicides:


  • Not all herbicides are made up of nasty chemicals.  Using concentrated vinegar is one of the best way but you have to be careful though as they are not selective and may kill everything it comes in contact with. I suggest you wear protective goggles.

  • There is just no way that you can completely stop weed growth, no matter what you do, but you can prevent them from spreading and getting deeply rooted by simply pulling the weeds before they can flower and spread seeds.  So, keep an eye on them.

  • One fast and effective way is by torching them. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction turning them into ashes. Torching is best for getting rid of weeds on your lawn edging and sidewalk cracks but not practical for large areas.

  • Use mulch in your garden bed. Aside from preventing weed growth, mulches improve soil condition and add nutrients.  You can use newspaper or cardboard but the best are organic mulches like hay and straw.

  • Crowed them out!  Put desirable plants and keep them healthy by maintaining a fertile, well drained and aerated soil.



That’s it for now and happy weeding. Remember – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

 

 

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Chemical Or Organic Pest Control – Your Life Your Choice

By: organicfarmingblog, 3:38 PM GMT on April 08, 2014

Organic farming 300x225 Chemical Or Organic Pest Control – Your Life Your Choice
Photo courtesy of http://www.sadakafirm.com/pesticides-in-foods/


It is sad that the connection between chemical pesticides and some serious illnesses is an issue mostly ignored. A lot of research has been done to cure diseases and we have been successful on some but the funny thing about this is that only a handful of us stop to ask what is really causing these illnesses in the first place. There has been mounting evidences telling us the truth and it is just a matter of accepting the fact about its potentially harmful effects on our health, our home and the environment.
If you are not convinced, let me tell you some of the reasons why you should avoid using chemical pesticides.


  • Chemical pesticides as based on previous studies, linger in the atmosphere, in our waterways and the ground even long after we have stopped using them.  Just imagine the lingering pollution on the world’s field that has accumulated for almost a hundred years of using chemical pesticides!



  • We have precariously disturbed the balance of nature as a good number of necessary bugs have been reduced as pesticides are not discriminatory. Thus, even   beneficial insects which are crucial to the eco-system are also eliminated in the process.



  • And here’s one more… Chemical pesticides have caused a myriad of diseases and serious illnesses like some types of cancer. They have been liked to hormone imbalance, brain damage, infertility, birth defects and miscarriage.


That’s just for starters, the list goes on.

How about controlling pests the organic way?  It is just as effective but far safer and less expensive. By going organic, it allows us to start from scratch on the proper care for the soil. You will reduce soil chemical contamination which will bring back nutrients and useful organisms.  How do you like harvesting clean, chemical free and unaltered produce in your organic garden? It may seem overwhelming but it’s really not that difficult.
Here are some very effective organic pesticides available around:



  1. Garlic Oil – sprayed in and around your home and can repel most insects.

  2. Neem Oil – an effective insect repellant used in organic farming for centuries now. It can also disrupt insects’ ability to breed and grow.

  3. Lime Sulfur – used by both non-organic and organic gardeners which eliminates most species of mites & other insects. Its fungicidal property is ideal for ornamental plants and fruit bearing trees.

  4. Tobacco Water – This solution of tobacco and water is deadly to worms found in soil including symphylids, fungus gnats, and some underground pests.  It resembles like tea after mixing, so be careful with it.



You can make your own concoction using ingredients found in your kitchen. But always take caution, not just because it’s organic, it means it is always safe. Keep them away at all times from your kids and pets.
Now, don’t you think it’s about time shifting to organic pesticides?

 

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WORM FARMING – THE BEST COMPOSTING EVER

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:23 AM GMT on April 10, 2014

WORM FARMING – THE BEST COMPOSTING EVER1 300x168 WORM FARMING – THE BEST COMPOSTING EVER

Picture courtesy of Flickr


Also known as vermicom posting, Worm farming is basically establishing a community of worms that help in the recycling of our food scraps and other organic waste into a natural fertilizer called vermicas t.  Instead of the traditional composting done on compost pile, this one uses worms.

What is composting anyway?  Composting is nature’s way of breaking down organic matters into a very rich nutrient soil.  Plants, vegetables, fruit trees, animals, and of course us humans are all organic matter.

Every living thing will eventually decompose when they die. They will breakdown to be reused by mother earth as fertilizers and become food for plants.

Worm farming is the best way to recycle our organic wastes into rich compost because they do this naturally and much faster than any other form of composting and a lot better than any fertilizers you can buy in a garden store.
Let me share with you some facts about these wonderful little creatures.


  • They turn the organic matter they eat into a type of humus which is the most important part of the soil.

  • They dig holes in the soil to let it breathe and allow rain water to go deeper and reach the roots of the plants where it is needed most.

  • They create their own soil called vermicas ts which help plants to toughen their immune system.

  • They have a very big appetite and will eat vegetable and fruit scraps, moist cereals and bread, egg shells, newspapers, egg cartons, card board, ground coffee and filters.

  • They hate peels of any citrus fruit, meat, dairy products, oil, seafood and pet droppings. Waste segregation has to be done.

  • They have an unusual ability to destroy pathogens, which do not survive when passing through their guts.


Do we need worm farms?

That’s a definite YES! Just imagine how much amount of organic wastes we can reduce significantly through worm farming. When we reduce our everyday organic waste that we send to our landfill, we also reduce the potential accumulation of deadly liquid called ‘leachate ’ which pollutes our underground water, our streams and oceans.  We also reduce the production of another harmful and powerful greenhouse gas called “Methane”.

We too can help the environment. By making our own worm farm, we can grow worms and let them breed over and over again. Worms have done a lot of amazing things to our environment for thousands of years now but with all the chemicals we have dispersed into the earth to grow our food, we have slowly killed them. Worm farming is one way to help them repopulate and with the extra worm that we grow we can release them to their natural environment to do their thing in helping save the earth.

Let’s get building one in our backyard. It’s fun and educational for our kids.

 

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GROWING WITH ORGANIC FERTILIZERS

By: organicfarmingblog, 10:45 PM GMT on April 05, 2014

GROWING WITH ORGANIC FERTILIZERS 300x199 GROWING WITH ORGANIC FERTILIZERS

GROWING WITH ORGANIC FERTILIZERS


One of the most important aspects of organic farming is building up the fertility of the soil. This can be done either by using synthetic or organic types of fertilizers. For years, many farmers used only synthetic fertilizers on their farm. The Synthetic types are manufactured products, while organic fertilizers are obtained from animal manure, plants or naturally occurring minerals.

Like our bodies, plants also need nutrients to function and grow properly. The soil contains many of the essential nutrients needed by plants. There are 16 nutrient elements needed by plants to grow and most soils contain large reserves of 13 nutrients.  The constant use of the soil and constant erosion by wind and rain will eventually deplete the nutrients.

The advantage of this form of fertilization is not only that they contain unprocessed nutrients mentioned above but also organic matter and humus which serves as soil conditioning.  As compared to the processed synthetic fertilizers, organic fertilizers  gives out the nutrients slowly so that plant roots are less likely to be burnt due to high dose of chemicals.  Organic matter improves soil structure, drainage, and retains the moisture and microbial life of the soil. Sufficient amount of this can help ensure that nutrients are available to plants on a steady basis and that the soil structure enhances the root to grow.

There are several types of organic fertilizers. The Plant Based which are high in nitrogen and potassium, like Soybean Meals which has 7%  nitrogen, Corn Gluten with 10% nitrogen that is quick to breakdown, Alfalfa Meal  with a moderate 2% -3% Nitrogen and some traces of minerals.  Another type is the Animal Based which is actually by-products of meat and dairy processing like Blood Meals from the slaughtering industry which contain 14% nitrogen, Bone Meal with 11% phosphorous and 22% calcium, Fish Meal with 10% nitrogen and Animal Manure whose nutrient composition varies based on the animal and the method of storage.  Lastly, there is Composting Method which is considered as the best organic fertilizer. They are made from plant, animal, and mineral based materials.  It has a low but good balance of nutrients and high on organic matters that help feed the soil’s microorganisms. The nicest thing about composting is that no matter what material you start with, the end products will be fairly similar.

Indeed! The secret to growing nutritious fruits and vegetables, abundant flowers, trees and shrubs is by creating a living soil using organic fertilizers – Cheap, Effective and Eco-friendly.

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Organic Farming Blog. Filled with interesting facts, comparison articles and opinions on everything related to organic farming.

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