I want to share some thoughts about gardening in harmony with nature, which is quite common in urban fringe and villages here. I am not talking about agriculture. Next to harvesting some high quality food important goals include also education, curiosity, recreation, increasing bio-diversity and such.
There are a lot of different philosophies and concepts out there - I do not want to discuss them here. E.g. there is the old bio-dynamical way described by Steiner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture
- we could discuss for weeks the strange esoteric and pseudo-scientific background. I do not want to discuss that. In my opinion everybody should walk the way suitable for his/her life and circumstances. There is the more modern concept of permaculture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture
and there are a lot of local concepts and association which could fit your interests, your climate and your needs for interaction with other poeple best.
What does gardening in harmony with nature mean?
1) Do not try to control your garden. Interactions in nature are way more complicated than e.g. a nuclear power plant. You can never understand every detail so you will never be able to control everything.
2) Take your time and watch a year or two before you start actions and brutaly change everything and maybe destroy an old community of synergetic life forms. Look at the cold/wet places and the sunny areas and who is flying or crawling there and with wich plants and herbs you share the garden. Unlike a nuclear power plant nature can do quite well without you.
3) Make it complicated. The more different places you have the more different life-forms can stay at your place. The more diverse the ecology is, the more stable it is. So make your garden looking and feeling different in different spots: Trees give shadow, some water is very helpful (even a 100l bucket may help the frog and the syrphid fly and dragon fly), a small area with high grass and different flowers, a pile of stones and sand in a sunny place, a pile of old wood from different trees, some acid soil under some firs and some other place with lime/chalky soil, a compost pile, some lawn with clover and a hammock...
4) Do not clean your garden to much. Especially take care for predators (wesps, fire flys, centipedes, frogs, salamanders, birds, hedgehogs ...) - they need places to hide in the winter and material to build a nest. The pile of wood and a pile of stones are nice homes. Do not remove all dry flowers/herbs in autumn. Make it look different, interesting and worth living for a lot of species.
5) There are no enemies in your garden. Ignore words like weed or vermin. Every life form is valuable. The problem you may face is that in a unstable ecology with limited number of species some life forms spread to much and to fast. In that case remove some of the species claiming to much space - but not all! You do not want to expulse their predators. Maybe you even need some more different "vermins" to make your garden an attractive one for predators. And it may take some time for the predators to come back. Maybe they were killed by insecticides before. The use of any insecticides guarantees the later invasion of some bugs because the predators were killed and they are much more sensitive to a broken ecology.
6) Plant the stuff you want to eat and want to look at. Try to use original plants native to your place or climate. Do not use breeded stuff but the "real" plants - e.g. there is a nice snowball bush with white flowers: They are beautiful but sterile flowers without nectar for insects and without berries for birds. Try different versions and look which kinds of plants like to share the garden with you. Do not force the plants to life with you - some may be just the wrong plant at the wrong place.
7) Enjoy your garden - if you really do not like something remove it. The garden is a fun place for you. The more fun you have the more tolerant you are to other species and the better for all life forms sharing the same place. Try to life in peace with the species - but if some species do not want to life in peace with others you are the advocate of the victims, you are responsible for everything you do or let alone.
just my 2c