How to go from a conventional garden to an organic garden

Hello Agrohuerters, today we are going to see the case of Mireia, she is an Agrohuerter who contacted me to help her convert her conventional orchard to organic.

Tomatoes in the Mireia garden

Mireia has a small orchard in the peri-urban area of ​​Barcelona and since I was in this city I went to visit it and advise her in person. In his orchard he currently has the following crops planted: tomatoes, beans, lettuce, onions, pumpkins and fruit trees, two lemon trees and an olive tree. She has been cultivating her garden for years in a traditional way using authorized chemicals but none of them organic. All the production that she has is for her own consumption and on specific occasions they give some vegetables to the family.

How to go from conventional to organic garden

To go from a conventional to an organic garden, you first have to broadly differentiate what type of garden is going to be the lucky one.

types of orchards

The orchard can be of 3 types:

  • Large orchards or horticultural farms: that are not in the city, but in fields whose production is on a large scale and is dedicated to sale.
  • Urban orchards on plots: these can be in neighborhood associations or in peri-urban areas.
  • Flowerpots: what we have on our terraces and patios.

In the first case, in order to be organic, large orchards have to fully comply with a series of standards contained in extensive legislation at national and European level, in order to have organic orchards and therefore organic harvests.

In the second assumption, which is the one that represents Mireia’s case, she must comply with and respect the regulations on urban gardens of the Autonomous Community or at the level of the locality of the area where the garden is located. For this, the City Council must find out where we are going to have this plot, about the regulations for these processes.

Finally, there are no established rules for flower pot gardens, they are very easy to turn into organic, you just have to change the substrate for an organic one and follow organic practices.

Steps to follow to go from conventional to ecological

To go from conventional to organic garden in urban gardens, you have to follow these basic steps:

  • The biggest problem when you want to convert a conventional orchard to an organic one is the land, which takes years to “clean” itself or recover from the action of chemical phytosanitary products, pesticides, etc. This process can take approximately 5 years. But we are not going to stop cultivating the garden for that. We recommend to our Agrohuerter, that in the last weeks of August, when the cycle of their crops has finished, disinfect the soil, for example by solarization (this will help the process of “cleaning” the soil, but it is not immediate).
  • With this, what is intended is to prepare the ground for organic farming in the fall. An option that can continue to be carried out in the new organic crop, as you can see in the photo, is the minimum tillage of the soil, in this way a natural padding is achieved, which is very beneficial for the summer season.
    lettuce in the garden
  • Plan the garden: in organic farming this step is very necessary. If planned correctly, making the recommended crop rotations and associations according to the species; garden cultivation will be a resounding success. Because they are the keys to reducing pests and diseases in plants.
  • Organic fertilization is another important step. Mireia is recommended that since she has enough space in her garden, she incorporates a compost bin. In this way, the fertilizer will always be 100% ecological and will also reuse vegetable waste from the kitchen, among other things.
    Pumpkins in Mireia’s garden
  • With regard to pests and diseases, as we always say, prevention is optimal, and for this we must be attentive to the small changes that may occur in our plants. To do this, depending on the species of the plant, you can use various natural repellents or grow vegetables from the area, among other preventive methods. If, on the other hand, the plague is installed, there are already many products or techniques to make it disappear. For small animals that can harm the garden, such as rabbits or birds, Mireia has cats that keep them away.

One of the most important changes is in oneself, in changing the mind, it is essential to start an organic crop to be totally sure of it and want to do it, because if you don’t you will quickly return to the previous state. It is necessary to become aware, because it requires special care, which will later be rewarded in all aspects, both in vegetables or fruits and in the sustainability of the garden with the environment, which is a great contribution to nature.

Both for Mireia and for all Agrohuerters, if you have any questions during the transition from conventional to organic garden, do not hesitate to ask us. Until next time!

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