We all know how expensive it is to buy fresh organic foods although we can’t underestimate the importance of reducing the amount of pesticides we consume and protecting the environment.
Fortunately, there is a way to have your own fresh fruit and vegetables while having fun and learning new skills at the same time: organic gardening! Follow our tips on how to start an organic garden and enjoy a healthier life.
Of course, you can hire a professional to start and maintain a beaufiful organic garden for you, but you really can do it on your own if you put your mind and some effort into it.
You may want to starts with baby steps, growning one or two plants. And don’t get discouraged if things aren’t perfect at the beginning. Give yourself some time master your new skills in organic gardening.
What is organic gardening?
You don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in an organic garden, but that doesn’t mean your plants will have to fend for themselves. There is a number of ways to make sure plants are healthy and pest free.
Start off with all of the tools you’ll need for the job. These include: clippers, a trowel set, a soil test kit, garden gloves, a compost bin and a lightweight watering can.
Prepare the soil
The soil in your new organic garden is the basis, so it needs to be properly conditioned if you want to get the best results. Your plants require good nourishment. Healthy soil with beneficial bacteria, worms and microbes means healthy plants.
First, you’ll want to assess the quality of your soil by getting it tested. The best time to do it is fall and if you need to apply any organic nutrients, you should do it before winter.
There are two ways you can test your soil. You can either buy a home testing kit or send a sample to your local agricultural extension office. You’ll receive a complete breakdown of pH and nutrient levels and treatment recommendations for a decent fee.
Make sure your soil has plenty of organic matter (humus). Mix in compost, grass and leaf clippings and manure that you can get from local livestock. Manure should be composted, unless you aren’t harvesting or planting anything for two months after application.
The best thing about compost is that it’s free and all gardens benefit from it. Compost feeds plants, helps save water, and keeps food and yard waste out of landfills. All you need to do it spread compost around plants or mix it with potting soil.
Get started and measure out a space at least three feet square. Your compost heap can be a simple one or you can use a bin.Next, add layers of brown material (leaves and garden trimmings) and green material (kitchen scraps and manure) with a thin layer of soil in between.
At the top of the pile put four to six inches of soil. Turn the pile as you add new layers and water to keep moist, in order to boost microbe action. You’ll get good compost in just two months or longer if the temperature is lown.
A well maintained compost pile shouldn’t smell. If it does, add more dry carbon material (leaves, straw, or sawdust) and turn it more often.
Choosing your plants
It’s best to choose plants that will thrive in your specific micro-conditions. Select plants which will adjust well to each spot in terms of light, moisture, and soil quality. The better your plants feel, the more resistant they’ll be to anything that attacks them.
If you’re going to buy seedlings make sure they were raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The best place to look is at your local farmers’ market. On the other hand, many things are best grown from seed, including sunflowers,coriander, dill, sweet peas, squash, and cucumbers.
Morning is the best time to water your plants. Why? Mornings tend to be cool with less winds, so water doesn’t evaporate that much. If you water in the evening, plants stay damp overnight, so they become more prone to fungal and bacterial diseases.
It’s best to water the roots, not the greenery and you can do it by hand though a drip or soak system can work great, too. To avoid shocking tender greenery, use water at air temperature; collected rainwater is the best.