April 2012
The Magic of Gardening

Organic Gardeners: Get the Straight Facts


A no-till transplanter is pictured above. No-till options are now available for growing vegetable crops.

You Must Know More than Average

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), Alabama Agriculture Experiment Station (AAES), North Alabama Agriplex, Alabama Sustainable Ag Network (ASAN) and Peinhardt Living History Farm want to invite you to the North Alabama Agriplex in Cullman on Saturday, April 14, 2012, from 1-4 p.m. Speakers from ACES and AAES will present basic organic growing principles for gardeners and small scale farmers. These principles will be useful for everyone from certified organic farmers to ordinary gardeners just wanting to reduce their chemical use.

Organic gardening and farming present some unique challenges to Alabama growers. I have always said organic growers must know more than the average gardener or farmer. The most critical components of an organic growing system involve soil and pest management. When fertilizer and chemicals became cheap and readily available, we lost a lot of knowledge our fathers and grandfathers grew up learning. For instance, one of the topics we will cover related to soil management will stress the importance of growing cover crops for nutrient enhancement, soil improvement and pest control.

Photo of a cover crop roller-crimper. Cover  crops are important in organic farming and gardening.


However, we have learned a few new tricks since the old days of plowing and disking every field before planting. No-till growing of row crops has been around for several years, but researchers have developed no-till options for many vegetable crops as well. Arnold Caylor with the North Alabama Horticulture Research Station has been a leader in conducting no-till vegetable production. He will be on-hand to discuss both old and new practices to help the Alabama grower.

The other great challenge we face relates to pest management. Mike Reeves, regional Extension agent, will discuss both weed and disease-control options available. The tool chest for organic growers is smaller than that of conventional farmers, but there are some practical approaches you can apply. Ayanava Majumdar (aka – The Bug Doctor) will bring his traveling road show of common vegetable pest. The information he will share is practical and very interactive. You will go away with a new appreciation of pests and control options.

There are many organic-approved products on the market and more coming every year. You will get the straight facts about which work best and on what pest they work.

If you are interested in this workshop, call the Cullman County Extension Office at (256) 737-9386 to pre-register. You may get registration details and directions at this website: www.aces.edu/counties/Cullman/documents/OrganicMeeting.pdf.

For more information on organic vegetable production, visit the ACES website at www.aces.edu/anr/organicveg/. This site has links to resources, research updates and other meetings planned across Alabama and in the South.

Tony A. Glover is a County Extension Coordinator in Cullman County.