What is Organic Farming?Written by Jeremy Pickles
Organic farming is production of food using all natural methods - avoiding all synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms. Its' core philosophy is that of sustainability or 'zero impact'. The organic farmer seeks to leave earth in its' natural state after harvest.
The focus of organic methods is on soil quality. Crops are grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides, and livestock is reared free of drugs and hormones. Proponents of organic food believe it produces food with higher quality and nutritional value than conventional chemical-based methods.
Many countries including US and EU have certification programs to control use of term "Organic". This benefits consumer by ensuring best practice has been followed. This varies from region to region but includes things like minimum length of time a field can be left free of chemicals before it is allowed to be used for organic farming.
There are many different styles of organic food production but they all adhere to same principles:
* no artificial fertilizers or drugs * no genetically modified organisms * prevention of soil depletion * 'biodiversity' - growing of a range of crops not just a single species.
One recent researcher found that vegetables in 1950s contained more than eight times as many trace elements as modern crops, which he attributed to excessive use of nitrate fertilizers. You can read all latest research at http://www.ge-free.com/
Courtyard Gardens Ė Planning TipsWritten by Malcolm Kay
With an increasing tendency for empty nesters, young couples and singles towards higher density inner city living, and desire to spend minimal time on maintaining gardens or other outdoor spaces, most new apartments, townhouses and condominiums tend to have only pocket sized backyards, courtyards or balconies. So it becomes particularly important to make most of such limited areas by landscaping and utilizing space in best possible way.
But you donít have to be a professional landscape architect to create an inviting courtyard space - you just have to follow a few basic design principles. Whilst you canít physically increase size of a small garden, you can certainly employ a few visual tricks to create illusion of space.
One important way of doing this is to create a thematic link between indoor and outdoor areas. Linking backyard or courtyard to family room or kitchen, breaks down division between inside and outside, making total area appear larger. To establish this link, try to use paving materials that are similar to those used in house. If you have a tiled area inside, consider extending same or similar tiles outside. If you have a solid wood or wood laminate floor, one simple solution is to lay interlocking wood deck tiles on external patio or courtyard (see for example www.ezydeck.net). Although such tiles are best laid over a concrete pad, they can also be laid over a level and well compacted gravel surface. And they can be moved and re-laid at will should you decide to change design of your outdoor space at any time.