Getting Started in the Organic Gardening Business


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Getting Started In The Business Of Organic Gardening

 

by Home Business Publications

Organic gardening is growing and marketing health foods that have not
been treated with commercial chemicals. Only natural fertilisers and pest
repellents are used to qualify for the higher, health food prices.

The primary equipment for health food growing is to not use the
chemical fertilisers or toxic pesticides.

Natural and organically grown foods command higher prices because they
cannot easily be mass-produced and generally require more TLC.

Not only are natural foods more expensive, they are mandatory for
people who cannot tolerate many of the chemicals commonly used by the
majority of growers today. There are also many people today who feel very
strongly about chemicals and are willing to pay extra for all natural
products.

The organic grower screens pests from the garden, uses insect repelling
plants (like marigolds) and natural enemy insects (praying mantis, ladbugs)
and natural, non-toxic pesticides to reduce crop damage.

Some organic growers confine their operation to green houses or shade
houses, where control is easier.

Natural foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, dried, frozen or
canned foods, as well as seeds, powders and juices.

They can be sold through health stores, directly from your garden
roadside stands, or to markets in the area. It is also important to note that
processed natural foods are equally as much in demand.

When advertising your organically grown produce, be sure to emphasise
the "all natural" aspects, which is one of your best selling
points.

Setting up to grow health foods is very much like readying a normal
garden, except that you take special care to avoid the use of
"forbidden" chemicals.

Fertilisers are restricted to barnyard products and natural plant
leftovers which can be combined into an excellent (and low cost) garden
fertiliser.

In the natural food garden business, you will soon develop a routine to
make your own compost almost exclusively from waste products -- plant
trimmings, fruit hulls. All plant parts that are not otherwise used ( or
diseased) are recycled into compost, along with other materials that you have
on hand or can buy inexpensively.

The degree of isolation needed for an organic garden depends on its
location. If you live in a hot area, consider a shade cloth enclosure to
screen insects as well as the direct rays of a hot sun.

Greenhouse enclosures are often used in the more temperate areas where
frost is a consideration.

If your garden is in a relatively insect free and not down wind from
fields that are sprayed with commercial chemicals, you may need no special
considerations other than some of the accepted insect deterring techniques.

Perhaps the most needed assistance for your organic garden will be
compost, which is sometimes called (ironically) artificial fertiliser.

The purpose is to fertilise and simultaneously, add humus (decayed
animal and plant matter) to your growing medium. Depending on the needs of
your soil, it may be necessary to add specifics to attain the desired
composition.

If you cannot test it yourself, take several small samples from different
locations in your garden and have them analysed.

State universities and some large (especially, chain) nurseries will
often provide this service at little or no charge. Call your county
agriculture agent to find other sources of soil analysis (and remedial
actions that may be unique to your area).

In a commercial operation, you will undoubtedly want to generate at
least some of your own compost. You should have at least two compost piles so
you can be using one while the other is "working."

One way to build an inexpensive compost box is to make an enclosure of
wood and chicken wire, some 3 feet wide, 15 feet long and perhaps 4 feet
high.

Use metal or treated for the four corners and re-enforcing posts every
3 -4 feet on the sides. There should be no bottom (just bare soil).

Add the compost materials: dry leaves, grass clippings, cotton hulls,
straw, fruit peelings, sawdust, vegetables, and manure (clean sacked is fine)
in one foot layers.

Kitchen scraps are usually avoided because they give off odours and
attract flies, as are any diseased plant parts. Mix in a shovel full of
regular garden soil here and there, along with some hybrid earthworms if
available.

Between layers, sprinkle well with some 8-8-8 or 5-10-5 commercial
fertiliser (about a pound per square foot of compost surface).

This small amount of commercial chemical doesn't count as a directly
applied chemical. It acts as a catalyst to speed the decomposing action.

Keep the compost pile moist and use a fork to turn and stir the
material every few days to help foster decomposition. Add more clippings as
the pile shrinks (decomposes).

When re-starting a compost pile always leave a couple inches of the old
compost on the ground to acts as "starter". Depending on the
weather and how well you take care of your compost pile, it should be
"ready" in 6 to 8 weeks. Of course, if you heavier products, such
as wood that has gone through a compost machine, it will take a little
longer.

Tip: If you can't afford a compost machine, put leaves and other small
clippings into a clean metal garbage can and insert your weed-eater. This
won't work with larger pieces, but does fine with the light material.

Another idea is to mount a barrel so it can be turned daily. Have one
made with a door and good latch so it can be turned without its contents
falling out. The barrel can either be mounted on rollers or have axles welded
on each end and fit into receptacles on a sturdy stand.

Organic gardeners learn which insects and garden denizens are helpers
and which are "bad news". Some may look bad but do a lot of good.

Examples are garden snakes that eat mice and insects, spiders and eat
insects, wasps that each roach eggs and lay their eggs in insects, dragon
flies, and ground beetles and caterpillars.

Other beneficial creatures may be more easily recognised: praying
mantis (insects and aphids), lady-bugs (aphids, scales, spider mites), bees
(pollination), lizards (large quantities of insects), frogs, toads (ditto),
pirate bugs (mites, eggs and larvae of other insects), birds (worms, bugs),
dragonflies (flies, mosquitoes, etc.).

There are also "organic" pesticides that are used, but one
must be very careful not to step over the line to toxic chemicals and lose
their "organically grown" label!

As you learn more and more about organic gardening, you will discover
many other tricks that work in your area. Some are iron-clad rules; others
may be debatable, but in the final analysis, what works for you is best for
you! Some organic gardeners NEVER plant anything in the same row twice -- to
reduce the possibility of pests and disease.

For example: Tomatoes are especially sensitive to nematodes (root
insects) as well as tomato worms. A crop of tomatoes may be followed by
onions of cereal (not regular winter) rye for a winter green fertiliser
(turned) under in the spring).

The latter is reputed to kill nematodes which become tangled in the
thick rye roots. Many organic gardeners routinely place marigolds and other
insect repelling plants between rows and/or 5 castor beans to help repel
flies and moles.

By subscribing to a good organic gardening magazine, and trial and
error in your particular locale, you will soon become an expert for the
products you raise.

BUSINESS SOURCES

NATIONAL AGRICULTURE LIBRARY, 10301, Baltimore Blvd.,Beltsville, MD
20705. Offers free list of over 200 sources of information on organic
gardening and farming.

ORGANIC GARDENING, 33 E Minor St.,Emmas, PA 18049. Magazine for organic
gardeners (both amateur and professional).

GROWER TALK, Box 501, Chicago, Il 60185. Trade magazine for greenhouse
growers.

NICHOLS GARDEN NURSERY, 1190 North Pacific Highway, Albany, OR 97321.
503-928-9280. Specializes in herbs and rare seeds; offers supplies,
instructions, ore and advice. Good selection of organic pest controls.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, PUBLICATION CENTER, OPGA, Washington,
DC 20250. Write for a listing of available organic gardening pamphlets.

DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC.,31 East 2nd St.,Mineola, NY 11501. Discount
books, clip art, stencils, etc.

QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd.,Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700,
312/634-6380.

NEBS, 500 Main St.,Groton, MA 04171, 800/225-6380. Office supplies.

IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 76665. Letterhead and envelopes.
Write for price list.

SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. 3 line rubber stamps - $3;
business cards - $13 per thousand.

ZPS, Box 581, Libertyville, IL 60048-2556. Business cards and
letterhead stationery. Will print your copy ready logo or design, even whole
card. Write for catalog.

WALTER DRAKE, 4199 Drake Bldg.,Colorado Springs, CO 80940. Short run
business cards, stationery, etc. Good quality, but no choice of ink or color.





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