Becky Carlberg, of Shawnee, lost most of her garden this year to the recent storms but said she will make due with what’s left, her pumpkins.

Becky Carlberg, of Shawnee, lost most of her garden this year to the recent storms but said she will make due with what’s left, her pumpkins.

Carlberg is an organic gardener who uses natural and healthy methods to keep the food she grows fresh. An organic gardener by definition of the Master Gardener Training handbook is an individual who uses a production system that avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.

Carlberg said in order to be an efficient organic gardener, one must first start off with good soil preparation.

“In this area, a lot of the soil is not very good,” she said.

She explained this area of the country is hard to keep organic gardens strictly organic. She said a lot of people keep his or her garden natural and healthy but sometimes not completely organic.

“Some gardeners garden as natural as they can,” she said.

Carlberg said the reason some gardeners fall short of ‘organic’ is because they use artificial chemicals rather than turning to things they already have that could be a healthy alternative. She said most items around the house can be used to keep pests and disease away such as coffee grounds, egg shells and her favorite, banana peels.

The recent rains have caused some problems for local farmers, said Carlberg. She said that too much water could wash out the plants or cause disease, such as fungal infections.

“Fungal infections may be difficult to get rid of,” she said.

Carlberg said in order to be a good organic gardener you have to stay in your garden more than if you were using chemicals in order to catch the diseases early.

“You have to keep an eye on everything,” she said.

Carlberg said as long as a gardener treats the soil very good and is conscious about what’s being put in their garden and on the plants, organic gardening is possible in this area. She said she wouldn’t put anything on her plants that she wouldn’t eat herself.

“You want the plants to be alive,” she said, explaining that the plants should be bright, colorful, fresh and not have to be washed off over and over before eating.

Carlberg does not sell the plants she grows so she’s not considered ‘commercial’ but some gardeners do take plants to market.

George Driever, OSU Extension Horticulturist, said commercial organic gardeners couldn’t have pesticides applied to their soil for at least three years to be eligible for a license to sell. A commercial organic gardener must also follow other rules and regulations and must register through the State Department of Agriculture.

“There isn’t a garden policeman,” he said, explaining the only way to keep people from selling ‘organic’ products that aren’t really organic is by public complaints.

Driever said as far as he knows there is not anyone in the area claiming to sell organic foods. He said he encourages people buying produce to ask to see the seller’s license in order to prove they are organic.