Organic planting is the oldest form of agriculture on earth. Many people want to grow their own vegetables without pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and they are returning to the gardening practices of earlier times. Gardening without synthetic products ensures that food is natural and that the garden is not a harmful environment for children, pets and elders. Organic planting is easy when its methods are understood.
The University of California at Davis defines organic growing as "a type of agriculture that promotes the use of renewable resources and biological cycles to enhance biological diversity, without the use of genetically modified organisms, or synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers." Organically planted home gardens use compost as a soil additive rather than synthetic fertilizers.
Organic planting methods make use of mulching as a way to conserve water, add nutrients to the soil and suppress weeds. Mulch is organic material that is spread over the soil surface around plants. Common mulching materials include straw, wood chips and compost. These materials break down over time and add beneficial microbes to the soil, enriching its nutrient content.
Planting done organically often begins with adding compost to the soil. Compost is made from decomposed yard trimmings, kitchen waste, grass clippings and brown leaves. These materials are combined in a pile or bin with water and turned regularly to add oxygen. Within three to six months a dark, rich soil is created. When this soil is added to growing plants it benefits their nutritional content and promotes better growth.
Organic soil matter has three parts; living organisms, fresh residues, and well-decomposed residues. The University of California at Davis glossary of organic definitions refers to this as "the living, the dead, and the very dead." These three components are commonly known as compost. Organic planting methods recommend adding compost to the garden before planting and as an ongoing fertilization program.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is also a component of organic planting methods. Organic pest control methods focus on the long-term prevention of pests and their damage rather than chemical elimination of them. Beneficial insects such as praying mantis and ladybugs can be introduced into the garden to consume harmful insects such as aphids. Organic planting methods also make use of companion planting, which is the science of planting mutually beneficial plants in close proximity to each other. Garlic and roses grown next to each other is an example of companion planting.