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Soil and the Organic Garden

According to Wikipedia:

Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotationgreen manurecompost and biological pest control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured (synthetic) fertilizerspesticides (which include herbicidesinsecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibioticsfood additivesgenetically modified organisms,[1] human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials.[2]

Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972.[3] IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as:

“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved…”

Soil

Apparently the soil in an organic farm or garden MUST be turned and amended and the crops MUST be rotated to insure problem free growth.

Crop rotation is one of the oldest and most effective strategies for organic pest control and healthy soil culture in your organic garden. Specifically, it means the planned order of vegetables or fruits in garden beds; avoiding planting the same crop in the same space for a two or three year period; and knowing what family your edibles belong to.

Where the same vegetables or fruits are grown in the same patch of soil successively, soil depletion and pest infestation may follow. As organic gardeners don’t use insecticides, preventing pest infestations must be controlled by other means.

Many soil dwelling insects are fairly immobile. Take wireworms for instance. They love to feast on sweet potatoes and carrots. If you plant those edibles in the sameraised bed every year, wireworms will build up in the soil and in a few seasons you’ll have a terrible infestation on your hands. But if you follow carrots or sweet potatoes the following season with a non-root vegetable like lettuce or spinach, the wireworms will lose their food source and will be incapable of multiplying.

The same idea holds true for diseases such as tomato blight. If your tomatoes were infected with blight last year, fungal spores from the blight may overwinter in your soil. Planting tomatoes the following year in the farthest garden bed from the blight infested bed will minimize the chances that your tomatoes will pick up the diseaseagain.

Crop rotation also spares depletion of your garden soil. Every plant requires unique amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium (N-P-K) and other trace minerals. When the same plant makes repeated demands of the same patch of soil, the elements it requires are quickly depleted and may take years to replace. For this reason, heavy composting in between crops is recommended for soil health and using a soil test kit formonitoring levels of N-P-K.

Rotating your vegetables and fruit also greatly reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. In my organic garden, I have no need for pesticides at all – there simply are no infestations – and I only use a small amount of organic fertilizer, but large amounts of compost.

For more information on crop rotation and identifying which families your vegetables are in, check out this explanation on crop rotation from OrganicLife.

crop rotation potatoes Don’s follow potatoes with potatoes in your garden.

 

What to use in your soil?

Organic Manifesto | Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto | Rodale News

Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto

In her book Organic Manifesto, Maria Rodale explains why demanding organic is a much-needed solution to protect our health and heal our planet. The following is another great article from www.rodale.com

 Choosing Organic food protects not just us, but the environment

BY LEAH ZERBE

Choosing food grown with organic methods keeps toxic chemicals out of the soil, and out of your body.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Organic matters, to all of us. Red state, blue state, churchgoer or atheist, soccer mom or single bachelor, what our society does to the soil (or allows to be done to it) directly affects our health. Sure, eating organic has long been a battle cry of environmentalists trying to protect the land, but as more and more science is telling us, we need to eat organic to save ourselves. As Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale Inc. and author of the book Organic Manifesto, points out, “the planet will be fine without us.” We’re the ones in trouble if things don’t change.

Rodale, a third-generation advocate for organic farmers and farming practices, spent the last two years poring over peer-reviewed scientific research, traveling all over the country to meet with and learn about chemical and organic farmers, and interviewing the world’s leading environmental health experts. What she found is that we’re all living in a “great chemical experiment in which we are all guinea pigs.”

The warnings in Organic Manifesto apply to you if you are:

A parent.

Do you know of any mother who would purposefully feed her child a plateful of food contaminated with residue that could lead to early puberty, ADHD, and increased cancer risk? How about a glass of poison-spiked water, or meat and dairy products raised in a way that makes our medicines useless?

The levels of atrazine, a common farm crop weed killer, routinely spike in drinking water and are linked to learning disabilities in children, miscarriages, and fertility problems, along with the feminization of males. Other recent research has linked the chemical to the castration of male frogs that live in atrazine-polluted waters, raising questions about the chemical’s effects on human development. And there have been huge jumps in the number of cases of ADHD, autism, asthma, diabetes, and childhood obesity. “Scientists can’t explain why the number of children with food allergies has increased 18 percent in the last decade,” Rodale writes. “Is it a coincidence that the prevalence of these problems has increased as we have increased the use of chemicals to grow our food?”

A farmer.

Chemical farmers face all the health problems listed above, but also suffer in other ways. They are lied to by chemical companies like Monsanto, who convince them they need genetically engineered seeds and toxic sprays to increase yields, when this really isn’t the case at all. Pesticides kill all the beneficial life in the soil that help store carbon (a climate change solution), retain water (reducing runoff and flooding during storms and storing more water for times of drought), and keep plants healthy and more resilient against pests and diseases. United Nations studies have found that organic farming methods increase yields over expensive and intensive chemical methods, even in places like food-starved Africa. Organic farmers also earn more livable wages, according to a USDA survey.

As Rodale points out in Organic Manifesto, perhaps nowhere is the sad case of chemical farmers more evident than in India, where desperate farmers, nearly run out of business because of U.S. farming subsidies, turn to “magic” GM (genetically modified) seeds. “After the first year, they find out that it costs much more to maintain their crops due to the ever-increasing prices of seeds and chemicals,” Rodale writes. “Yet they are still plagued by insects and, like all promises of magic, the yields are disappointing at best. Before long, the money lenders are knocking on their doors and there is not enough revenue from the crops to pay the debts.”

“More than 160,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the past decade,” she continues. “The favored method of suicide? Ingesting chemical pesticides.”

A grocery store owner—or shopper

Farmer’s markets are great places to find healthy, organic food, but not everyone has a farmer’s market or backyard organic garden available year-round. (VisitLocalHarvest.org to find farm-direct organic food.) The more that consumers vote by purchasing organic food, the more stores will be inclined to carry it. If your grocery store’s organic section is scant, talk to the manager, lay out the health risks involved with chemical food, and tell him or her you’ll take your business elsewhere unless the situation improves.

A policy maker

Sales of organic food and products are growing, but they still represent just a sliver of the market. Complicating matters, the corporate domination of soy and corn seeds (ingredients in tons of food products) makes it impossible for all farmers to go organic tomorrow, even if they wanted to. There just aren’t enough non-GM seeds. Science has associated eating food grown from GM crops with an increase in food allergies and autoimmune disease, and even accelerated aging. And the GM crops are built to withstand very heavy sprayings of synthetic pesticides, chemicals that science has tied to everything from autism, ADHD, sexual development problems, some cancers, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and obesity.

To build up a bank of non-GM seeds in the next few years, we have to take action now, Rodale told an audience at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim last Friday. And that needs to start by ending broken farming policies that reward chemical farming methods that are poisoning us all and contributing to the healthcare crisis. Leading her list of “Five Solutions that Might Save Us,” Rodale demands a government ban of agricultural chemicals and GM seeds. “We need to demand that the government stop rewarding businesses that harm people and the planet by giving them subsidies and tax breaks and easing regulations,” she writes in Organic Manifesto.

Anyone else

Our existence—our children’s existence—depends on how we farm our food. Organic farming methods keep toxins out of our food and water, help mitigate global climate change, keep GM crops—which have barely even been tested for safety—out of the food supply, and can feed the world in a sustainable way. “We must restore the earth’s natural ability to absorb and store carbon,” writes Rodale. “Going organic will not only do that, it will also heal many other major ills as well: the poisoning of our children, our water, our wildlife, and our world.”

Visit DemandOrganic.org to learn more about how buying and growing organic can improve your personal health and help heal the planet. You can also become a fan of Organic Manifesto on Facebook, and follow Rodale’s blog, Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen.

via Organic Manifesto | Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto | Rodale News.

More Reasons to buy Organic

If you haven’t gotten on the organic band wagon, I’ve got some more convincing to do.  The following is largely from an article in Organic Gardening Mag.

Think about it

You should be eating a heavily weighted diet of plants and raw foods.  I don’t want to hear the same old BS that we are meat eaters and should be eating red meat.  That may have been true 100 years ago, but not know.  Chemistry has gotten into our diet.  Chemists have found ways to increase the yield of everything and haven’t thought about the long term costs until recently.  If you don’t eat organically grown food you are ingesting 12 or more chemicals  and pesticides that can  HARM you, your family and your future family.  The hormones in the dairy and meat we eat are changing the size of the human race.

Corn

Maybe you’ve heard of the chemical “Roundup”?  Supposed to be one of the safest weedkillers around.  So safe that chemists have genetically engineered crops like corn to be “Roundup ready”, meaning that a corn crop can be planted then when the weeds start to grow and compete with the corn, Boom, just fly by with a crop duster and spray Roundup on everything and the genetically engineered corn being resistant to the Roundup lives on while the weeds die.

Sounds great, doesn’t it.  Not so much.  Roundup is not just salt as we might have heard.  The main component of Roundup is GLYPHOSATE.  Glyphosate is a systemic chemical, which means it is absorbed into the root system of the plant.  People being lazy, greedy, bastards, farmers are no exception.  They found that using Roundup increased the yield of their crops and was a whole lot easier and cheaper to use.  So much so that researchers can find glyphosate in RAIN and in the air and of course our ground water and streams.  In 2009 the USDA says that farmers sprayed 57 million pounds of glyphosate on food crops.  That alone is reason to buy and eat organic.  Not convinced?  I’ll proceed.

Glyphosate

To be brief – glyphosate is a hormone-disrupting chemical.  It is linked to metabolic damage, infertility, obesity, learning disabilities and birth defects.  Need More?  Really?  If you are smugly thinking that you are a meat eater and don’t eat much corn, think again.  Most cattle are raised on CORN and that corn is Roundup ready.  Don’t believe me – take a trip to Nebraska.

In fact if you live in a corn growing state like Nebraska, you are drinking glyphosate in your household water unless you have a granular activated carbon filter to remove it.

We are eating Crap!

I’m not just being crude.  Human sewage sludge is used as fertilizer in farm fields.  Yes, that is a potential source of salmonella out breaks or worse.  I make this point because another huge problem is hormone-disrupting phthalates which are very common fragrance chemicals used in soaps and shampoos.  Phthalates are being found inside our produce and the only reasonable source is the sewage sludge.  EAT ORGANIC- the use of human sewage is banned in organic farming.

Fat and don’t know why?

May be you eat too much.  But maybe it is the pesticides that are making us fat.  Even in very low doses, pesticides tamper with our body’s natural weight loss chemistry.  These are also linked to cancer and type 2 diabetes, go figure.

The nice thing is that eating organic for just five days can rid the body of virtually all pesticide residues.

What to avoid?

Avoid synthetic fragrances, soft vinyl products and “slow release” or gel-coated medications to eliminate phthalates.  And of course eat organic.

More reasons

Pesticides can interfere with your vitamin D levels.  Organophosphates are a class of pesticides that include 20 or more different pesticides and account for more than 70 percent of the pesticides used in the US.  It is known that these pesticides interfere with the body’s ability to metabolize vitamin D.  D, known as the sunshine vitamin protects us from cancer, diabetes, infections, heart desease, broken bones and boosts our immune system.

Feed Lot Farming – now this is a story in its own right, but hopefully you’ll read it anyhow.  Feed lots are a farming method to raise a large number of cattle or fowl in a small space.  The animals are herded into tightly packed pens or corals.  They are fed in situations that force the animals to eat their own feces.  These “Lots” are so filthy the farmers inject low levels of antibiotics into the animals to keep them health, which in turn end up in the meat we eat and cause antibiotic resistance in humans.  All mass produced animals including cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, dairy cattle and sheep are raised this way.  In such conditions pests can also be a problem, so farmers spray the herd or flock with pesticides which also get into their food.

Conditions are so bad that e.coil bacteria is a problem, so to prevent it from getting into the food supply, after slaughter, one method is to wash chickens in a chlorine bath that contains 30 times more chlorine than a swimming pool.  To mask the chlorine odor and supposedly to keep the bird moist while cooking, the chickens are then injected with a solution of water and phosphate.  Phosphate can increase our risk of kidney disease, weak bones and even cause premature aging.

Need more reasons?

You are beyond hope – it was nice knowing you – jughandle