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The organic garden is more and more a reality in the lands, in the gardens and even in the balconies of Italian houses. Because it combines two primary needs, the possibility of saving and that of producing and eating natural products.
In addition to this, organic vegetable cultivation is now also a choice and a philosophy of life: in difficult times, in which many points of reference and certainties prove to be less stable than we thought, the return to the cycles of the seasons, to the eternal relationship between the elements of the earth and man is a process of simplification of consumption that reassures and in some ways cheers up.
The golden rules of the organic garden
Today there is a lot of talk about the organic garden, of "zero-kilometer DIY vegetables". But what makes a cultivated space truly organic? The general principle is that in making it, only natural products (non-chemical or synthetic) are used, both in the preparation of the soil and in the sowing, and finally in the fight against pests and diseases. Few and essential rules to follow:
- Use only organic fertilizers such as manure, peat, compost.
- Select only natural seeds and seedlings (to be clear, avoid all those in the package or in the sachet bearing the word "Hybrid").
- Using the technique of "vegetable rotation", which differentiates the type of crop on a given space each season, allows both the natural enrichment of the soil with different elements and the non-proliferation of specific pests.
- Protect your cultivated space, beyond breadth, with special natural barriers that prevent access to harmful animals.
- Use natural insecticides based on copper or sulfur.
- Absolute prohibition of herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers.
The cycle of the seasons
One of the first "discoveries" for those approaching organic farming for the first time is the substantial difference between a vegetable garden and the fruit and vegetable sector of a supermarket. In fact, returning to the earth means - and above all - returning to the deadlines of the natural calendar. No strawberries to be picked in December (they are planted in March and harvested between May and June) or maxi and chromatically bright peppers in spring (they are sown indoors at the beginning of the year, seedlings are transplanted into the ground in May and the fruits are harvested for the whole summer), just to give two examples. Following the calendar therefore means going back to eating according to a natural cycle and giving great importance to the phases of the moon: it will seem a bizarre thing for neophytes, but sowing with a waning or rising moon (the indications are found on many "natural" calendars) is one of the determining factors for the good growth of a vegetable or a tuber.
Little secrets to get started
For those who want to try organic farming for the first time, the suggestion is to start on a small space (5x5 meters will be enough) and with few crops. Considering that most of the plants are transplanted into the ground in late spring, it will be necessary to prepare the land by turning with a small motor hoe or manually by the beginning of March. Immediately after the whole area will be enriched with natural fertilizers and left to rest for two / three weeks. Before starting the actual cultivation, space planning will also have to be set up, taking care to leave small paths passing between one crop and another. You can start by transplanting about twenty seedlings of tomatoes (it should be done in May), placing them at a distance of twenty, twenty five centimeters from each other. In another area, at the end of May, instead, it will be possible to transplant, more closely, as many seedlings of peppers and aubergines (choosing various types). In another corner, in holes 50 centimeters in diameter and 5 centimeters deep, you can instead try courgettes. Three seedlings per hole will be enough for a total of 7/8 holes and you will have a production for the whole season (they must be planted in May and watered often). At this point, your space will begin to assume an identity and a decidedly significant potential production.
To keep insects away, a little trick is to dedicate a small area to the cultivation of aromas (rosemary, basil, sage, etc.). In addition to enriching your small vegetable garden, it will be useful for attracting insects and distracting them from the main crops.
Organic garden cultivation: The compost bin
It takes up very little space but will prove to be of great use: the composter is a sort of wooden container (many municipalities that have adopted separate collection distribute it free of charge to those who request it) in which to throw all organic waste. The substances in a few weeks rot and ferment, becoming a real natural "compound" with remarkable fertilizing capacities, capable of nourishing the soil with extremely effective substances, which will help the plants to grow and gradually and naturally strengthen. On closer inspection, the compost bin represents one of the fundamental principles of a healthy and natural cultivation: everything that is produced in a organic garden it is consumed or reused. In a continuous cycle, which continues without interruption season after season. The fascination of approaching nature also consists in this.