You want to start an organic garden, but growing your own food is too difficult, right? Well, not necessarily. If you prepare properly, learn more about the process, and have a clear goal in mind, there is no reason why you should fail.
Plus, if you succeed, just think of all the yummy food you’ll get to enjoy.
Moreover, an organic garden is a safe haven for many insect and bird species. With that in mind, we’ve created this easy-to-follow guide to organic gardening so that anyone can give it a go. Take a look.
Decide on what you will grow in the garden
Your first step toward growing your own food is knowing what you want to grow. So, you need to understand your goals.
Do you only want food for yourself and your family?
Do you want to have enough so that you can sell to other people?
How much space do you have available for planting?
Answering these questions can help you decide on what you will plant.
While there are many choices, you will be limited by the options at your local nursery and what you can find online as well as by what thrives in your area. For starters, it’s best to go for what you will eat.
If no one in your family likes watermelon, why would you grow it? In terms of selling products, if you’re a newbie, you’ll want to wait a while to ensure you can actually grow quality food.
Choose between seedlings and seeds
Once you’ve decided on what you will grow, you need to choose between purchasing seedlings and seeds. You can also combine the two methods.
If you opt for seedlings, visit the local nursery and buy those that look healthy. This approach is often recommended for beginners as it is simpler. Also, go for seedlings if you want just a couple of perennials. They will come back each year and you will not have to plant them over and over again.
On the other hand, buying seeds is much cheaper. By buying a packet, you’ll get around 200 seeds. What is more, there are more options. You are not limited by the seedling options in the nursery and you can try out different packets of the same plant to see which one grows best.
Finally, you don’t know what the seedlings were treated with so getting seeds means that you have complete control over how they are grown.
Find the right place for the garden
The next step is finding the right place for your garden. Cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, and most other fruiting plants need proper sun exposure. So, if possible, find a location that gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day.
However, if your garden doesn’t get as much sun, don’t worry! There are also plants that tolerate partial sun, such as kale, lettuce, and other leafy greens. Just avoid planting under big trees as they can steal all the sun, water, and nutrients from your veggies.
In case you don’t have a large yard, you can turn to container gardening. For this, it’s important to choose the right size for the pots you will be using. Moreover, ensure they are in a protected area so that strong winds can’t knock them over.
Make sure you prepare the soil
Before you start planting, you have to ensure that the soil is healthy. What you should do is get it tested. You can purchase a test online or at a local nursery and do it on your own.
However, it might be better to send a sample to professionals. They will give you all the information you need in terms of pH and nutrient levels. If it turns out that the soil is lacking in some essential components, you will need to amend it.
Testing the quality of the soil is best done in the fall so you can then work on improving it before the winter arrives. In terms of what you can do, but still stay organic, consider making your own compost.
If you are not sure about how to add nutrients, you can also consult with the experts that performed the test.
Master making your own compost
Learning how to make compost is something you will benefit from in the long run. Not only is it free but it helps feed plants, conserve water, and keep waste out of landfills.
Your compost can be a simple pile or you can keep it in a bin. You will need some brown materials, such as leaves and garden trimmings, and green material that includes kitchen scraps and manure. A thin layer of soil should be put between these two, and at least four inches of soil on top of everything.
Turn the pile every time you add new layers and make sure there is enough water to keep it slightly moist. Seeing as how the compost shouldn’t smell, add more dry brown materials and turn it more often if it has an odor.
Learn the best ways to plant
Something that you have to keep in mind is your garden’s layout. For example, you don’t want plants in places you can’t reach. This is why raised beds are the best option as you can approach them from all sides.
Then, you should know that certain plants like to be grouped together as it has perks for both species. For instance, tomatoes grow nicely together with basil, asparagus, and lettuce. On the other hand, they don’t like rosemary, peas, and cabbage. Look into companion planting to ensure the best environment for your herbs and veggies.
Water the plants appropriately
Besides healthy soil and a good layout, your plants will also need plenty of water in order to grow. You want to water in the morning as the plants will have more time to absorb it and it will not evaporate as quickly.
On the other hand, you want to avoid watering in the evening, as plants can develop diseases more easily if they stay damp overnight.
How you water is also important. Make sure to water the roots and not the greenery. You can do this by hand if you’re careful, or you can install a soak or drip system.
Once or twice a week is perfectly fine. Moreover, remember to use water that is at air temperature or near it. You can also collect rainwater and use that for watering your plants.
Get rid of pests and weeds without chemicals
You should be aware of the fact that you will most certainly have to deal with weeds. To reduce their number, you’ll want to use mulch in your garden instead of various herbicides. Those pesky ones you will simply have to pull out by hand.
If you notice pests, that might be a sign of some other problems. Make sure there is enough light, moisture, and nutrients. Another thing that will help with pests is diversity, as various plants work together to protect themselves from harmful insects.
Finally, you want to foster natural predators that will be beneficial for your garden. They can help you deal with pests without having to rely on chemical pesticides. Other organic solutions include garlic, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils.
About the author: Sofia is a passionate writer from Sydney. She also enjoys decorating houses and engaging in home renovation projects. That is why she loves sharing her experience and advice with other people through her writing. Besides this, she loves technology and gadgets which can help us get through a busy workday.
Feature image source: https://fuzzyrescue.org/
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of growing your own food?
By starting your own garden, you will be able to always have fresh food for your family. More importantly, you’ll have the food you like to eat. Over time, you might even expand your garden and sell your produce.
Why is organic gardening better for you?
Deciding to start an organic garden might seem too difficult in the beginning as you have to check that every seed and product you get is organic. However, if you manage to dedicate yourself to doing this properly, you can always rest assured that your food is healthy and free of various harmful chemicals.
Are organic products as good as non-organic ones?
Yes, they are. What is more, they are even better as they won’t rid your garden of all insects, only the harmful ones. Plus, this approach is much better for the environment as no toxic pollutants will be released into the ground.