By Duane Marcus
Have you ever tasted the sweetness of a purple kohlrabi flower bud? Have you ever heard the buzz of a thousand bees collecting pollen from a bed of sweet corn? Have you ever seen a hundred butterflies feeding on a myriad of colorful flowers? Have you ever smelled the fragrance of a fresh bay leaf simmering in a pot of homegrown blackeyed peas? Have you ever walked out into your garden in the warm morning sun and felt like Snow White with blue birds swooping around your head and bunnies frolicking at your feet? These are just a few of the many joyful experiences you can have when you grow an organic garden.
When you embrace the natural world and nurture the abundance of life that makes up the soil food web under your feet you will open up a new palette of pleasures brought about by encouraging the return of biodiversity to your garden. Growing a successful organic garden begins with the soil. By supporting the life in the soil, the worms, the beetles and the microbes, you are well on the way to growing healthy plants that provide healthy food for you, your family and the abundance of life that brings us joy.
Compost and mulches provide the food for the soil organisms, which in turn recycle the nutrients and make them available for your plants. Healthy plants are able to develop defenses against invading insects and diseases. A diverse array of different kinds of plants in a garden provide habitat for beneficial insects, pest-eating birds, toads and lizards. Flowering annuals and perennials provide pollen and nectar for bees and wasps that prey of pests. Shrubs provide nesting sites for insect-devouring birds. Logs and rocks provide cover for lizards and toads.
Feed your kitchen waste to some worms in a worm bin on your back porch so they can turn it into rich compost to feed your plants. Rake up those grass clippings and fall leaves and use them as mulch. Plant a fruit-bearing tree or shrub in place of an ornamental one. You will be rewarded with an explosion of life in your garden and then you will be living truly green.
Duane Marcus owns The Funny Farm, which offers workshops on gardening, design and construction services. Visit their website at www.funnyfarmatl.com.
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