Gordon C. Young, 90, is busy in his garden in Salt Lake County these spring days planting a variety of vegetables, melons and squash. A widower, Young says he probably won't be able to eat but a small portion of all the food he will grow in his back yard this year and will give most of it away.
Young, a champion of organic or natural gardening, says he uses plenty of horse, cow and other animal manures on his garden. But no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or growth stimulants. He saves all the leaves that fall from his 15 fruit trees - pear, apple, cherry, plum and nectarine - and mulches them into his soil in the fall before it snows."I've never needed chemicals to kill bugs or weeds. I believe strong plants, grown in natural, healthy soil, resist bugs and weeds, just as healthy bodies resist disease."
He takes tender care of his garden all year and spends hours each week pruning and preening his fruit trees and weeding and watering his plants.
The results are abundant fruit crops and huge vegetables. His carrots are three or four inches in diameter and his potatoes weigh 2 1/2 pounds. One of his secrets, he says, is to drill dozens of 2- to 3-foot holes in his yard near fruit trees and in his vegetable garden so, when he waters his yard, plant roots will never thirst.
The idea of replenishing the earth is the heart and soul of his philosophy of natural gardening. "We were never meant to rob the earth but to keep it healthy and fertile."
The world is becoming a dangerous place to live in, Young says. "Foods being produced by unnatural farming are empty of vitamins and saturated with chemicals that can harm our bodies. Who knows what effect chemicals are having on the air we breathe and the water we drink."