What is an organic garden? The basics of organic gardening

Ideally the organic garden is made up of the same resources it uses, for example using compost, made from garden waste, to feed the plants in the garden, or deciding to plant legumes to add nitrogen to an area of the garden that needs it, avoiding the use of fertilizers, pesticides or other synthetic or chemical products on the plants.


In a broader sense, creating an organic garden means working in cooperation with nature and drawing from it what your garden needs and looking at your garden as a small part of the inner and infinite natural system.


Here are some of the fundamental principles that govern organic gardening.


What is meant by organic matter?

Organic matter or compost comes from the natural maceration of wet waste (cut grass, withered leaves, kitchen waste), so you can use the food waste from your home and bury it in the soil of your garden, or have it macerated in compost containers and spread it on the surface of your lawn or garden. In this way, the soil will draw nutrients from the compost in a completely natural way, without having to use chemical fertilisers.


Organic matter is very valuable to the soil because it improves the deep structure of the soil, attracts beneficial insects such as earthworms that produce nutrients, can even suppress many soil diseases and, by slowly releasing the nutrients it contains, allows it to be available for the entire growing season of the plants.


The organic gardener paradigm: "Plants feed the soil and the soil feeds the plants".

This is one of the basic principles governing organic gardening. The continuous cycle of nature, its ecosystem, the natural course of things: this is what organic cultivation is based on. What is born from the earth then takes nourishment from the earth itself, and at the end of its life cycle returns to the earth the nourishment to begin a new cycle.


The soil and its characteristics

Each terrain varies its characteristics according to the elements of which it is composed. If it is predominantly clayey it will be a very nourishing soil but may be poorly draining, on the contrary if there is a large percentage of sand it will be a very draining but poorly nourishing soil and in this case the compost will enrich it with those substances of which it is lacking. In any case, organic matter is indispensable for any type of soil, not only because it provides the substances that plants feed on, but because it attracts beneficial organisms and small insects that in turn create nourishment for the soil.


How can we keep pests and diseases away without using chemicals?

As we said above, setting up an organic garden means not using synthetic substances, so alternative solutions must be found to the problem of plant pests and fungal diseases. Since you are cooperating with nature in organizing an organic garden you may have to accept the presence of occasional pests on your plants; not all insects are a danger to crops and, in any case, there are natural remedies that you can use to defend yourself from harmful ones. The first rule is vigilance and careful observation of the condition of plants and flowers, in this way you will be able to nip the problem in the bud and it will be easier to remedy it.


A simple trick to put into practice is to irrigate the plants in the early hours of the morning and only at ground level, without wetting the trunks and foliage, this way you will not attract potentially harmful fungi, as these proliferate in moisture.


You can protect the plants (in particular those in the garden), also covering them with light translucent plastic sheets, especially in the spring season, when the pest peak is at its maximum, and use small adhesive traps to catch harmful flying insects. Small strips of tin foil can be placed at the base of the plants to discourage worms and woodworms.


And if you are faced with an invasion of caterpillars on your flowers, the most effective natural method is to remove them manually, once the colony has been removed, it will be difficult for them to resurface.


You also have a lot of organic pesticides that can overcome the problem of insects and pests, but before using them you need to be sure that there is an infestation problem and know what it is. In some cases it is not a real problem, some insects such as the worm, for example, do their damage and then leave, leaving the balance of the plants unaltered.



If you are faced with a real problem, take care to eliminate the infected plants completely and never add them to the compost, otherwise the infection will spread to other plants and the soil itself. If we are talking about a vegetable garden, the differentiated cultivation (i.e. planting staggered at different times of the season and different species of vegetables) will protect you from the loss of the entire harvest.


Many insects and small animals are absolutely beneficial to the garden ecosystem because they prey on harmful parasites, such as ladybugs and wasps. Birds, frogs and lizards eat larvae and actively contribute to limiting a possible attack by pests. If we use chemical sprays every time we see a parasite we weaken the entire natural system, killing the beneficial insects as well, the ecosystem would be altered and the damage would be greater and longer term.


What else can help us create an organic garden?

There are many elements that can help create a healthy ecosystem in your garden, such as choosing to plant only plants that are suitable for your soil conditions, climate and site location. Plants that need sunny areas will look good in a sunny area, conversely if planted in shady areas they will be stressed and will be an easy target for pests. The same goes for plants that need one type of soil rather than another or particular irrigation.


Finally, mulching is an excellent solution to prevent weeds from growing, but also to maintain the right degree of humidity and soil temperature and in addition is very decorative. Mulching is a cultivation technique that consists of covering the soil around shrubs or flowerbeds with plant material (usually bark), or inorganic (gravel, clay or volcanic lapillus).


Now that we have answered the questions about the organic garden, you will have understood that it is not at all synonymous with an unattractive garden but with eco-logical cultivation and respect for the environment!