Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gardening Methods: Traditional and Organic

Over the next month or two, I will be delving in and exploring some of the different gardening methods.  While growing your own food is as simple as combining seeds, soil, water and light, there are so many new and improved ways to maximize and improve yields.  Sometimes all those improved methods can seem overwhelming and intimidating.  My hope is that by looking at each method and exploring how it developed will allow you to evaluate your own gardening and simplify some of the ideas available.  

I am also looking for experts who are willing to share their experience with different gardening methods in three different ways.  You may link up interesting posts below as part of The Homesteading Resource Guide, or I welcome submissions of questposts with first-hand knowledge of different gardening methods.  Lastly I am interested in sharing photos of some of these methods in action.  If you have photos of your experience using different gardening methods, please share them to my flickr page (or email me at gstuppycarlson at gmail dot com) and I will share them within my posts (with due credit given of course).

Traditional Gardening Method

Ironically, traditional gardening is difficult to define, mostly because there are small and large differences in how people garden around the world and throughout time.  It is simply impossible to comprehensively define a common, time-tested method.  For the sake of simplicity, I will discuss traditional gardening as planting in a large garden space in set rows.  In modern gardening, traditional gardening has also come to mean gardening with the use of fertilizers, although many of these fertilizers are modern in nature.

Choosing to create a traditional gardening space is a wonderful option for people with a large area.  Using large rows covered with mulch between your plants gives you room to walk, weed and even move a wheelbarrow between the plants.  This also lends itself to the use of machines and for many, the well-defined rows have a simple beauty that takes us back to days on the farm.  For people using row covers, a traditional garden row provides a natural set up.  Some people argue that by walking between the rows you decrease crops by compressing and damaging roots, and this method is not good choice for those with limited space.

Traditional gardening often uses the soil already present, unlike raised bed gardening where soil is built up into beds.  This does not mean that you can’t create a large gardening space that has added compost or has been amended.  Traditional gardening is a wonderful place to start, especially for those with lots of space, good soil and adequate drainage.

Organic Gardening 

Organic gardening often uses a number of different methods, but ultimately is based on using the natural system, and specifically excludes synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.  People choose to garden organically for their health, concern over the environment, to preserve seeds, and to maintain a natural approach to gardening.  

In the commercial world (depending on your country) the word organic is regulated, and farmers must show compliance over a certain amount of time before becoming certified organic.  For most of us growing in our backyard, organic gardening means finding natural solutions to fertilizing and pest control.  While organic farming has been practiced for thousands of years, the modern organic farming movement really took root in the 1920’s with Rudolf Steiner.  This movement continues to grow, and many home gardeners are taking advantage of the many practices that fall under organic gardening.

If you are interested in sharing a post about gardening methods or design, link up below, and join me next week as I discuss more methods including raised beds and vertical gardening.

I shared at: Walking in High Cotton


  1. Great information! We are currently working on what you'd call a traditional garden using organic gardening methods. We do have some beds sectioned off for our plants, but the soil is all from our property. This will only be our second year to garden at our place, so we are definitely still learning.

    1. We also do a combination. We've always had a tradtional garden but we are very slowly adding raised beds. The beds are still filled with our soil and as we add compost to them over time they will fill up.

      I have friend from Kenya who says that they dig out their garden (or farm) area because they have very clay soil and they use that soil to build their homes. Then they fill the hole with wood, leaves, manure - whatever organic matter they can find - and then plant when that composts down a bit. They also plant in long rows. I think it's interesting how other cultures garden, esp. those where almost everyone grows their own food.

      I'm excited for the rest of the series.

  2. I am looking forward to learning about all of the gardening methods. I have had success with raised beds in the past and will probably try it again this year because I have limited space now.

  3. All I can think right now is HELP?! I have fire ants and voles! And I don't want to use poison, but my market garden is suffering, and this is my livelihood!

    I'm looking forward to following along.