The recent controversy regarding GMO's is just one of the reasons for the increasingly popularity of organic gardening. Vegan gardening is a form of organic gardening, but it differs from organic gardening in a number of ways and for a number of reasons. Those reasons include a desire to not only avoid interfering with the natural cycles of life, but to avoid violence against any living being. One of the most distinguishing features of this type of gardening is the creation of a natural ecosystem that includes insects and animals. Rather than using insecticides, a natural ecosystem is utilized to accomplish the same results.
Reasons & Ideals
There are also a few environmental and political reasons people are beginning to prefer this type of gardening. Those reasons include reducing the pollution caused by shipping fruit and vegetables long distances, as well as the loss of nutrients during transportation. The potential health risks associated with insecticides still not banned in some exporting countries is another concern. Some even cite concerns about the exploitation of foreign labor that often contributes to low supermarket prices.
With the increasing popularity of first organic, and now veganic, gardening, a number of books have been written on the subject, including Kenneth Dalziel O'Brien's Veganic Gardening, the Alternative System for Healthier Crops. The first step in creating a garden is deciding upon the best location in terms of availability of sunlight and water retention. The next step is preparing the soil.
Importance of Mulching
Proper mulching, or covering the soil with organic materials that both provide nutrients during decomposition and conserve water, is important. Mulching, by making plants stronger and healthier, can help prevent them from becoming diseased or being attacked by insects. According to experts, the use of live green materials for mulching can extract nitrogen from the soil. For maximum effectiveness, they recommend applying the mulching material to a depth of at least 3 inches, covering only the root zones, but never the plant's base.
Hay is commonly used as a mulching material in organic gardening because it both suppresses the growth of weeds and provides a growth environment for worms that benefit the composting process. Other recommended mulching materials include rye, buckwheat and corn that are harvested before full maturity. Rather than using animal manure, a fermented solution of plants like dandelion, nettle, or comfrey can serve to both feed the plants and promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms. Inexpensive wire netting can be used to prevent other predators like birds and animals from enjoying the health benefits of your vegetables before you have a chance to harvest them.
It's often necessary for urban gardeners to start seedlings indoors, and then transplant them. Most seeds require warmth and moisture as well as light, so some experts recommend investing in a full spectrum halogen light bulb for consistency in temperature and light. When transplanting, applying some liquid seaweed before and after the process can help plants adapt to a new environment more easily. Seed packets normally contain information, including the last frost date, about the optimum time for transplanting.
One of the techniques used by organic gardeners to prevent pests and soil diseases and depletion is crop rotation. While there are many more, six basic classes of food plants commonly grown in organic gardens benefit from yearly rotation.
- The solanaceae class includes tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant.
- The umbelliferae class includes celery, carrots, and parsnips, as well as several herbs such as fennel, dill, cumin and coriander.
- The brassicaceae class includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and radishes.
- The leguminosae class includes beans, peas, and peanuts.
- The allium class includes onions, garlic, chives, and green onions.
- The cucurbitaceae class includes cucumbers, melons, and squash.
For urban gardeners using pots, the plant rotation process can be as simple as planting a different class of plant in each one every growing season. Each plant requires, and leaves behind, different nutrients, so proper crop rotation maintains the nutrient balance of the soil.
The proliferation of vegan organic gardening has been accompanied by an increase in the number of books providing tasty vegan recipes. Of the many reasons for vegan gardening, healthy enjoyable food is perhaps the best.