While a fair share of commercial fertilizers are used around my own landscape each and every season, a healthy respect for the natural process of organic gardening methods is increasing each year. Many home gardeners and farmers have totally adopted the increasingly popular organic way of gardening.

There are many excellent books and periodicals now available on organic gardening techniques. With the rising expense of commercial fertilizers and the hazards of some pesticides and herbicides, this may be the year for you to begin trying some organic systems and techniques as alternatives to chemicals. You can start by organically improving your soil.

Begin with a compost pile. You can save money on those bags of humus you purchase every year. Instead, allow organic waste materials to decompose as a result of bacterial action. This process provides you natural humus and feeds your plants with valuable organically produced nutrients.

Almost any natural waste is material for composting: lawn clippings, leaves, wood ashes, spoiled hay, manures, weeds. Don't forget kitchen wastes like coffee grounds, egg shells or vegetable peelings.
There are any number of composting methods, depending on your valuable backyard space. You can enclose the compost pile with a wire or wood fence, surround it with concrete blocks OT even store it in
aerated trash cans.

If you have enough of an area, simply pile the composting material in a heap or apply it directly to the garden and allow it to decompose there. Just remember that this decomposition process needs sufficient
air, moisture and nitrogen. To speed the composting process, materials can be shredded or chopped with the lawn mower. Keep the pile moist and add plenty of nitrogen sources, such as manures or bone meal, to hasten the process.

The composting materials will heat up as they decay. When the pile cools, the compost is ready to use. Another organic gardening practice you might follow this year would be to apply organic mulches. Suitable
materials include straw, lawn clippings, ground bark, pine needles, spoiled hay or decomposed sawdust.

A protective mulch material will control weeds, conserve moisture, keep the soil cool, and keep vegetables and flowers clean. The rewards from using organic mulches on vegetable gardens show up in a better
harvest. At the end of the season, till in the mulches to improve the soil.

The pheromone that attracts Japanese beetles to this trap is effective and safe, and occurs in nature. them on the garden year-round to keep out weeds, control erosion and keep soil friable. Along with organic methods for improving your soil, you can practice certain planting techniques that will help to discourage insects and plant diseases.

Rotate your crops- Don't plant the same crop or members of the same family in the same spot each year. Clean up debris, leaving fallen fruits in the garden just invites trouble. Avoid planting crops together that
attract the same insects.

Try interspersing plants that will repel some of the insects that cause you problems. Plant garlic cloves by tomatoes, add marigolds to the vegtable garden. You might consider the use of pheromone-lure insect traps as a 'non-toxic, safe and easy to use insect control.

Japanese beetle traps, the biodegradable lure is released continuously to attract and trap male species of the insect. This prevents mating and egg-laying, thus reducing future populations of the pest.
It's safe to use around children, pets* and all wildlife.

If you need to resort to sprays for controlling insect pests, you might try insecticidal soaps. They are harmless to humans, have no pesticide residues to worry about, and are safe to use on crops right up to

It may not be possible to become totally organic, but it sure makes good sense to use as many of the organic methods as possible in the outdoor realms of our living areas. With spring always just around the corner, it's time to begin at least thinking about it.