How to go from a conventional garden to an organic garden

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

Mireia has a small orchard in the perirurban area of ​​Barcelona and since I was in this city I went to visit him and advise her in person. In his garden he currently has the following crops planted: tomatoes , beans , lettuce onions , squash and fruit trees, two lemon trees and an olive tree . She has cultivated her garden in a traditional way for years using authorized chemicals but none are organic. All the production they have is for their 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 garden to an organic one, you first have to roughly differentiate which type of garden is going to be the lucky one.

Types of orchards

The garden 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 gardens on plots : these can be in neighborhood associations or in peri-urban areas.
  • Macetohuertos : 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 set out in extensive legislation at national and European level , in order to have organic gardens and therefore organic harvest.

In the second case, which is the one represented by the case of Mireia, it 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 orchard is located. For this, you must find out at the City Council where we are going to have this plot, about the regulations for these processes.

Finally, there are no established norms for the flowerpots  , these are very easy to make them ecological, you only have to change the substrate for an ecological one and follow ecological practices.

Steps to follow to go from conventional to organic

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

  • The biggest problem when you want to convert a conventional garden to organic is the land , which takes years to «clean» or recover from the action of phytosanitary chemicals, pesticides … etc. This process can take approximately 5 years. But that is not why we are going to stop gardening. We recommend to our Agrohuerter, that in the last weeks of August, when the cycle of her crops has finished, to 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 cultivation in the face of autumn. An option that can continue to be carried out in the new organic cultivation as you can see in the photo is the minimum tillage of the soil , in this way a natural mulch is achieved, which is very beneficial for the summer season.

  • Planning the garden : in organic farming this step is very necessary. If planned correctly, making the recommended crop rotations and associations according to the species; the cultivation of the garden will be a resounding success. Because they are the keys to reducing pests and diseases in plants.
  • The organic fertilizer is another important step, it is recommended that as Mireia have enough space in your garden, incorporating a composter . In this way, the compost will always be 100% ecological and will also reuse, among other things, the vegetable waste from the kitchen.

  • With regard to pests and diseases , as we always say, the optimal thing is to prevent, 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, various natural repellants can be used or vegetables originating from the area can be grown, 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 the small animals that can harm the garden such as rabbits or birds, Mireia has cats that she keeps them away.

One of the most important changes is in oneself, in changing the mind, it is essential to start an organic cultivation to be totally sure of it and to want to do it, because otherwise it will return to the previous state quickly. 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 gardeners, 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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