What Is Organic Gardening?

What Is Organic Gardening

The word “organic” is so overused and misused (as are words like green, natural, and sustainable) that I was tempted to avoid using the term on this website. But I have studied “organic gardening” for years and I am an “organic gardener” in the true sense of the word, so that’s what I say.

So, what is organic gardening?

Sure, part of organic gardening is not using pesticides. Many people don’t know that we also do not use chemical fertilizers in organic gardening. So no Miracle-Gro. No 10-10-10 or 21-7-7. These things are disastrous for plants and soil. More on that another time.

But chemical fertilizers and pesticides are just the beginning.

The following is directly from the Organic Land Care Standard that was put together by The Society For Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL), of which I used to be a director.

It is a great summary of what is organic gardening. You may be tempted to skip over this, or at least I often quickly skim through lists like this, but this one is really good to read.

In fact, it’s so good that I am going to take each of these points and write a blog post about them over the next 3 months.

I think it will help me to clarify my vision for this website, and hopefully give you a good overview of what organic gardening is all about (EDIT: I’ve linked to all up them in the list below).

The principal goals of Organic Land Care are:

  1. To work with natural systems and processes rather than seeking to dominate them.
  2. To encourage and enhance biological cycles within landscapes, involving micro-organisms, soil flora and fauna, plants and animals.
  3. To optimize and maintain the long term biological activity of soils.
  4. To practice the responsible use of water, and the protection of water resources.
  5. To optimize air quality and circulation in the soil, water and atmosphere in support of all life forms.
  6. To use, as far as possible, renewable, biodegradable and recycled resources from local sources and to minimize waste.
  7. To work as much as possible within closed systems with regard to organic matter and nutrient cycling.
  8. To avoid or minimize all forms of pollution in the establishment and care of landscapes.
  9. To ensure biological diversity within urban landscapes.
  10. To encourage the creation and protection of native plant and wildlife habitats.
  11. To consider the wider social and ecological impacts of urban landscapes and the practices and products used to create and maintain them.

Did you read it? If so, you can see that the answer to “what is organic gardening?” encompasses a lot of issues, not just pesticides. It’s incredibly rewarding and fun to garden organically, and I hope you’ll join me on the journey.


  1. Sathya on February 4, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Someday i want to become an organic gardener too..Thanks for sharing all this good information..

  2. Antoine M Andre on August 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I am starting a new garden these days and you just appear to be the man I was looking for. Thank you so much for you beautiful creation.

  3. platetone on April 1, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I came in to the site via your article on mulching with leaves and have been looking around. I’m looking forward to exploring the site fully. You seem like a good guy. Thanks for all this info!

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