The Vegetable Garden

Organic Gardening and Permaculture - page 3

Natural Pest Management
The dense mixed-up nature of the ecological garden creates a natural form of pest management.  Pests generally locate their target plant species using sight or smell.  Imagine how much more difficult it is to see your target plant when its outline is blurred by a sea of green.  And how on earth could you smell your target plant when there are so many conflicting smells.

No More Need to Rotate Crops

Crop rotation is practiced by dedicated gardeners for a very good reason.  Different plants require different minerals from the soil, in different proportions.  After an area has been planted with a certain species, the soil can be left depleted of certain minerals.  To lessen the effects of this depletion a different crop will be planted in the area the following year.  In addition, many gardeners rest their garden beds periodically and grow a green manure crop, usually a legume such as Lucerne or field peas.  These plants add nitrogen from the atmosphere through a process called nitrogen-fixing.  However, crop rotation simply isn’t necessary with ecological gardening because the mixed-up planting arrangement counteracts the effects of mineral depletion because a single species doesn’t dominate a single area.  Likewise, green manure crops are not necessary as nitrogen is topped up in two ways.  Firstly, through planting edible legumes such as peas and beans within the jungle-like mass.  And secondly, by the addition of compost to the surface of any bare areas.

Composting
Compost is an important part of the ecological garden and is a very valuable commodity.  To me, composting is a way of building valuable nutrients that will, one day, feed me and my family.  The average person buys food from a shop, consumes it and then sends the waste away.  This is simply buying nutrients, taking what you need for that precise moment, and disregarding the remainder.  It’s a nutrient flow that only flows in one direction, like a fancy car roaring down the road.  You admire the car for a moment, but after a second or two, it’s gone.