Growing an organic garden is just as easy as growing any other type of garden, it’s just done without the use of chemicals. The term “organic gardening” is generally taken to mean planting and growing plants without the use of chemicals or anything synthetic.
When it comes to vegetables, whatever goes into vegetables and fruits as they are being grown goes into us when we eat the produce, so it’s easy to see why the trend towards organic foods are gaining in popularity now. If you are considering planting and growing an organic garden, follow these tips and tricks so you can be successful in your gardening adventure. It’s really not as complicated as you think!
Test the Soil
Test your soil with a purchased DIY soil testing kit or take a soil sample to your local county extension office for testing. A test will reveal the structure of your chosen garden location and what soil amendments/conditioners need to be incorporated into the soil prior to planting vegetables. Usually, this has to do with the PH value.
One of the simplest methods of finding out soil PH is to use two containers containing your garden soil. Pour vinegar (acid) into one of them. If there are bubbles, it means the soil is alkaline, hence the reaction. For the other container, thoroughly mix distilled water into the soil until its liquid, and then add some baking soda (alkaline) to it. If it bubbles up, it means the soil is acidic.
Prepare the Soil
Prepare the soil by tilling or plowing to the depth of 12-18 inches. Add soil amendments according to the results of the soil test (if needed) and add two inches of organic compost and work it into the soil. If the soil is too acidic, you can apply some lime or wood ash to make it more alkaline and reduce the acidity. If the soil is too alkaline, add sulfur or peat to the soil. Both are acidic, and should reduce the alkalinity of the soil.
Sketch the Garden
Create a sketch of the chosen garden location, noting trees and structures, sunny spots, shaded spots, and those spots in-between. Use different colored pencils to differentiate the garden areas. This sketch will be useful when it’s time to buy and set out the plants. Planning your garden is always useful, whatever the type of organic garden you want to set up, be it an ornamental garden or a basic vegetable garden.
Take the garden sketch to your local nursery and talk with a knowledgeable associate about plants that grow well in your region and in the particular environment that your garden space presents. Every plant has its own unique sun, soil, and watering requirements, and matching the right plant to the right garden spot can mean the difference between success and failure. If you are in the US, here is a handy map of the typical growing zones.
Place potted plants in the designated spaces according to your sketch, then step back and look at the garden area. If you’re pleased with the layout, begin to dig planting holes twice as wide and twice as deep as the plant roots. Plant at the same height as the plant was in when it was in the container, fill the planting hole with soil and firm the soil gently. Water each plant and add a layer of organic mulch around the plant.
Vegetable seeds should be planted in 2 inch furrows and covered with a light layer of soil, then watered in well.
Keep the weeds pulled, water and feed as needed. For nutrients, apply a side dressing of compost or well-rotted cow manure to each garden plant to keep them fed and thriving without resorting to chemical fertilizers.
Plant marigolds around the perimeter of your organic garden to help deter pests and pick noticeable pests off plants by hand.
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