There has been a steady increase in organic farming in the last decade as people gain knowledge about food safety. Growing plants in organic soil is easily accomplished in the home garden. Garden centers now stock a wide array of organic compost, fertilizers and nontoxic insect sprays. Building a compost pile at home is an easy way to have organic soil for plants.
Organic gardening is the oldest form of cultivating plants on the earth. It was not until after WWII that nonorganic treatments and soil amendments came into general use, when manufacturers of nerve gas and ammunition sought new markets for their technologies. First-generation pesticides were arsenic and hydrogen cyanide, which were abandoned as too toxic to humans. Facts about the damage to plants grown in nonorganic soil became well known after the publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" in 1962.
J. M. Stephens and S. R. Kostewicz of the University of Florida IFAS Extension have said that "As non-renewable energy based resources and water resources are disappearing at an alarming rate, better, more efficient ways to grow foods organically need to be found."
Plants grown in organic soil provide food that is nontoxic. Organic gardening is sustainable. Nonorganic soil becomes progressively less fertile after years of pesticide and chemical fertilizer use.
Well-tended organic soil is continually enhanced with green matter and animal-waste residue. Bird and animal manure, green cover crops, compost tea and sea products are a part of organic soil management. Organic soil is a living community of microorganisms that reproduce and decompose in cycles. The by-products of their decomposition add nutrients to the soil and, therefore, to plants grown on the soil. Organic content improves the tilth, condition and structure of the soil so plants grow more easily.
Plants grown on organic soil are not sprayed with chemical insecticides or herbicides. Chemical fertilizer products are not used to encourage growth. In a recent Ohio State University study, an organic corn crop was found to have a 13 percent higher yield per acre than nonorganic corn. Food grown organically has been shown to be higher in antioxidants, which are a cancer-preventative.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has established a certification program for plants and food grown organically. The USDA Certified Organic label indicates that food is produced and processed according to the USDA, resulting in a 100 percent organic product. A "Made with Organic Ingredients" label means the product contains at least 70 percent organic ingredients.