What Is Organic Gardening?

Discover what it really means to grow your own food organically.

Think organic gardening sounds complicated? It's not. In fact, it's a pretty simple approach to working with nature in all its wonders. Basically, organic gardeners try to avoid using synthetic, man-made materials. There's more to it than that, though. In-ground or in raised beds, organic gardening in your backyard means creating your own ecosystem, or healthy habitat, for plants, pollinators, beneficial insects, bug-eating birds, and nutrient-rich soil. And while it may seem to be the newest craze, it's actually a timeless, traditional approach used by generations before us.

So what about those products that are labeled “natural” instead of “organic?” Use of the word “organic” on food, seeds, and plants is federally regulated by the USDA, while “natural” is not. Look for the “USDA Organic” circular seal on food, seed, and plant products.

Backyard organic gardens share 3 main characteristics:

Rich soil that’s chock full of nutrients.

This is usually thanks to adding either nutrient-filled soil products that are specifically blended for the planting spot or pot , or a lot of compost. Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil (for in-ground gardens) or Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Container Mix (for potted plants) is a super-simple way to do both. Blended with aged compost and just the right organic nutrition to get plants off to a strong start, both products make it easy to grow a flourishing organic garden. In fact, they’re guaranteed to deliver up to twice the harvest (vs. unfed plants) during the growing season!

As that season goes on, the nutrition in the soil will get used up by your plants. That’s natural! You’ll want to replace those nutrients so your plants can keep growing and thriving. A month after planting, begin nourishing your organic garden on a weekly basis with Miracle Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose Plant Nutrition, which is enhanced with micronutrients and designed to start feeding instantly. Make sure to follow all of the directions on the label.

The end result of great soil full of food? Strong plants that can better withstand nature’s curveballs of pests, disease, and weather.

A diverse mix of vigorous plants that make good neighbors for another.

Leeks and chives grown near carrots help combat frustrating pests for each other. Nasturtiums planted with cucumbers use the same vining support, while flowers attract helpful pollinators. In organic vegetable gardening, crop rotation is also key. It keeps pests guessing and the soil replenished by not planting the same type of plant in the same spot, season after season. And of course gardeners grow what they like to eat. Bonnie® Organics makes that easy with a sizable selection of vegetable and herb plants that are certified organic. Feeding plants with organic plant food helps keep them strong and productive, too.

A wide range of helpful creatures.

Spiders, bats, toads, birds, beneficial insects—it sounds like a recipe for a witch’s brew but it’s really an ideal blend of organic garden residents that signifies all is well. The work put into creating nutrient-rich soil and a smart planting plan advertises to helpful creatures that an organic garden is the Park Place of garden plots. These guys do a lot of the work for you, eating, trapping, or zapping insect pests bent on seizing your garden for themselves.

See, in organic gardening, pest control takes self control. Instead of getting rid of whatever’s crawling or flying around, you look a little closer and figure out if it’s a pest or beneficial predator. Have polka-dotted ladybugs helicoptered in, bringing big appetites for eating annoying aphids? Are those wasps laying their eggs in hornworms that would otherwise munch your tomato plants out of existence? Did you notice how many slugs and snails those toads have snapped up? Many creatures that you’ll find in an organic garden are actually helping keep it whole and healthy

By growing an organic garden, are you guaranteed loads of bountiful harvests? We’d like to think so. But when you start gardening you’ll soon learn that the only guarantee with Mother Nature is that there are no guarantees. Still, it’s a fact that strong, healthy plants can focus their energy on producing more leaves and fruit instead of recovering from weakening diseases or pest attacks. Gardening organically is a great way to create what amounts to a robust immune system of sorts for plants, while also providing a habitat for happy birds, bees, and other helpful critters. Now that’s time well spent!