We all want the food we serve our families to be as healthy as possible, and that starts in our own garden. Organic gardening brings many benefits to a home, not only by reducing the amount of pesticides you and your family consume and helping conserving the environment, but also by providing better tasting food and saving you money.
Most gardeners don’t understand what organic gardening is all about or how to have an organic garden, but it’s very simple. It’s not only about avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. It is about observing nature’s processes, and emulating them in your garden as best you can, creating a healthy environment where plants will thrive. Check out these simple tips below and make your own organic garden in your home.
Preparing The Soil
The soil is the most important thing when it comes to organic gardening. In order to have a thriving garden, you'll have to make sure the soil is properly conditioned, and the best way to check the quality of your soil is to get it tested. You can do it yourself with a home testing kit to check the soil pH, or send a sample to your local agricultural extension office for proper testing and analysis. For a modest fee you'll get a thorough analysis of nutrient levels and pH, as well as treatment recommendations for your soil. This way you can start your garden off on the right foot.
If you don't have time for testing, it’s best to make sure your soil has plenty of organic matter, such as compost, leaf and grass clippings, and composted manure.
Make Good Compost
Compost is extremely important for your organic garden: it helps provide plants with nutrients, conserve water and reduce weeds. It’s very easy to make it yourself! You’ll only need to layer brown and green materials, at a 3-to-1 ratio and add a little of soil between each layer.
Carbon-rich materials are the “brown” sources, such as:
- Garden trimmings
- Dry leaves
- Pine needles
- Wood chips
Nitrogen-rich materials are “green” sources, such as:
- Grass clippings
- Green leaves
- Plant material
- Kitchen wastes
Alternatively, you can also purchase some from mulch suppliers and organic garden centers. Spread it around plants, mix with potting soil, and use to bolster struggling plants. Compost will be your best friend!
Choose the Right Plants
For your garden to be a guaranteed success, it’s important to choose plants that will thrive well in the environment and in specific micro-conditions of your soil type. After getting the soil tested, carefully choose plants that will be well adjusted to each spot in terms of light, moisture, drainage, and soil quality. The healthier and happier your plants are, the more resistant they’ll be to damage and less attention they’ll require for boosting productivity.
When purchasing seedlings, make sure they’re raised without synthetic chemicals or pesticides. The best place to look for is at your local farmers’ market, where not only will you find a variety of options, but also plant varieties that are best suited for your local area.
Want to know the amazing benefits of being eco-friendly? Check out These 26 Benefits and How To Be More Eco-Friendly!
Plant the Crops In Beds
When arranging your garden, make sure your plants will sit in wide beds where you won’t accidentally walk on them, to avoid destroying the soil surface when harvesting or cutting flowers. Raised beds are perfect! Grouping your plants is also a great idea: it reduces weeding, wasting of water, and also makes it easier to apply compost. To promote air circulation and avoid fungal attacks, make sure there is an ample space between rows.
It is recommended to water your plants in the morning. Since the weather is usually cool and without strong winds, the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. Avoid watering at night: it’s more likely to bring fungal attacks and bacterial diseases. Growing plants require more water and nutrients, while plants that are already established benefit from infrequent watering. Additionally, it’s best to water the roots, not the greenery of the plants, which can be easily damaged.
Since organic gardening avoids chemicals, weeds can appear more frequently. Don’t consider it a boring chore or hard work, consider it a good exercise that will help you get some fresh air, sunlight, and become more connected to nature. Raised beds can be made wheelchair accessible and many gardening tools are arthritis-friendly, so don’t be afraid of weeding. You can also prevent weeds by applying mulch, which also helps to protect the soil.
Protecting Plants Without Chemicals
The key to succeeding in organic gardening is by creating a well-balanced environment.
- Make sure your plants get enough light, nutrients, and moisture to help them grow better.
- A diverse garden filled with many plant varieties can also help prevent pests by boosting biodiversity.
- Promote beneficial insects and pest predators that will help your garden thrive, such as birds, bats, lizards, toads, frogs, and spiders. This way, you’ll be keeping pests and diseases below damaging levels and your garden will not require any chemical pesticides.
- Companion planting is important: selecting and growing a wide variety of companion crops supports the growth of the garden while keeping pests and weeds away. This helpful list by Mother Earth News shows which plants are great companion options.
- Natural sprays or pesticides can also be used as pest control methods. Check out your local organic garden center for products that contain neem oil, the bacterium Bacillus, or minerals like copper.
- Maintaining the garden clean is another effective way of organic pest control.
After starting your organic garden, maintenance is very important to keep your plants healthy and productive. Get in the habit the habit of:
- Watering in the mornings
- Using compost
- Weeding at the right time
- Pruning regularly
If you have sick plants to remove, make sure you pull up the entire plant. Don’t leave any diseased leaves or roots behind as anything left behind can spread to the rest of your plants.
With so many benefits, all the effort and willpower put into organic gardening is worth it. What do you think of these steps? What are your observations on the subject? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below!