Organic, permaculture, hugalculture, double dig, and intensive are just a few of the words used today to describe different methods of gardening. What are these methods? Are they the same thing with different people making them popular? And will any of them really make a difference in how one cares for a garden?
The quick answer is yes, and no.
Traditional (opposed to conventional) farming was popularized when Sir Albert Howard and his wife, Gabrielle, started documenting India farmers’ traditional farming methods in 1904. By 1924, Rudolf Steiner had given it a new name, ‘Biodynamic Agriculture’, in Germany. That was followed by Lord Northbourne’s book, Look to the Land, which was published in 1940. His book coined the phrase organic farming. Lady Eve Balfour picked up the pennant four years later with her book, The Living Soil. Believing that the future of mankind (and healthy animals) depended on healthy soil, she launched the Haughley Experiment. That resulted in the Soil Association, an international organic advocacy group. During this same time period, J.I. Rodale started the Rodale Organic Gardening Experimental Farm in Pennsylvania and organic gardening was born in the United States.
Global population growth brings fear of starvation to the forefront daily. This fuels the push for more chemicals and biotechnology. Everyday, weeds grow bigger and stronger forcing the need for even more powerful chemicals. Pests become resistant to the chemicals used to kill them. Plants are more susceptible to one single disease wiping out an entire cultivar. More water and fertilizer is needed to grow the newer bio seeds. It becomes a never-ending cycle for farmers worldwide.
Is there a way we, as a society, could take some of this pressure off, enjoy fresh air, do a bit of exercise, and have really good food to eat? Grow a garden!
I’ve been in a garden since I was a toddler. I don’t remember that, but I took my youngest sister into the garden when she was six months old. I’m sure my older sister took me into the garden at a very early age. One of my earliest memories was helping feed our chickens weeds pulled from the garden. Weeds I helped break off since I couldn’t pull them that easy from our rocky soil.
Marriage took me to Virginia Beach, Va., 45 years ago. The soil there is rock free and mostly sand. We added loads of horse manure, leaves, grass clippings, and chicken litter from our chickens. My husband had to convert a large closet into a small pantry for the vegetables and fruit I was canning. Our decision to grow more of our food brought us back to Missouri.
We bought 10 acres of wooded land, cleared a spot and built our home. While we were digging out the foundation, we thought we had hit paydirt. It didn’t take long to find out the only land on the whole 10 acres that was almost free of rocks was under our house! We had 10 acres of rocks with a bit of clay to keep them from washing over onto our neighbor’s land.
Next, “Gardening Lasagna Style.”
Linda Simmons is a Master Gardener as well as an organic gardener. She will be writing a twice-monthly column for the Daily News.