Principle 2: Compost What You Don’t Eat

The second core principle of organic gardening is take only what you need. Harvest the part of the plant that you want, and then compost the rest; return as much as possible of the biological yield from the Earth to the Earth, just as is done in nature, and the amount of additional material you’ll need to provide will be minimized.

The soil of your garden is like a bank account – if you put in more than you take out there will never be a shortage. But you need to be thinking about where the nutrients to grow you food are going to come from. We have pages here for composting, and mulching, and even about the larger idea of concentrating nutrients, but all of these are strategies that are based on the simple idea of putting more into the small space you call your garden than you take out to the table.

The Six Principles of Organic Gardening

  1. Feed The Soil
  2. Take Only What You Need
  3. Embrace Diversity
  4. Lose The Calendar
  5. Intervene As Little As Possible
  6. Live and Learn

For a little more depth you can check out this YouTube from a lecture series I gave in Shepherdstown, WV a few years ago. Sorry there is no audio, but I am converting the whole series into a free downloadable book. If you would like to be on the list to receive a copy of the free book on organic principles when it is finished, email me at seed2tablebook(at) and I will put you on the distribution list. This list will only be used to notify you of new book releases. To receive regular updates on this website, you should Subscribe to Garden Smarts by Email.

ShepherdPrinciple 2: Compost What You Don’t Eat

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