Organic produce is a bit heavy on the pocket, but why is the world still going organic? We answered all these burning questions and much more in our latest organic gardening guide. There, we (hopefully) convinced most of you to switch to the more natural ways of food production and ditch the conventional gardening methods.
Now, that you are all pumped up to grow organic vegetables, here is everything you need to know about starting an organic garden at home. From choosing garden soil to the best gardening tips, we help you transform your backyard into a wholesome veggie and fruit paradise.
The rule of thumb- no synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. But with the right tools and tricks, neither you nor your plants will have to do overtime.
Getting Started with Organic Gardening
Most beginners are prone to think that organic gardening is just a play of the best seeds. But, there is so much more to it. Here is a step-by-step chronological breakdown of the things to do to successfully plant an organic garden.
Kick-off with Soil
Let’s suppose you got your hands on the best seeds in the market. But what use are they if the soil you decide to plant them in is not up to the mark? All that hard work and wait won’t be worth it. Therefore, preparing the soil is the first step in the process to put together an organic garden.
To get the best organic produce, it is important to condition your soil. Remember that this soil is sustenance for your plants- so pack it with ample nutrients. Since the use of artificial additives or fertilisers is prohibited, you have to prepare the organic soil the natural way.
Prepare Organic Garden Soil
Your organic vegetable garden thirsts for nothing but healthy soil. Here is how to do it:
Test your soil:
Before starting off, you need to test the soil you are dealing with. This step will help you understand the pH levels, texture, and nutrient anatomy of the soil as well as help you understand the needed treatments. After you get the test results, analyse where your soil lacks and take steps to fulfil the deficiency.
Make organic compost:
The soil has many individual components. Out of all these organic matters- like dead/decaying organic matter- is the most important one. To furnish your soil with the goodness of organic matter, it is a good idea to make your own compost pit. You can make your own indoor and outdoor compost pit by compiling these:
- Fruit and vegetable remains
- Dry leaves
- Tea leaves and coffee grounds
- Straw and newspaper shreds
Just separate organic material from waste and use it to make compost. Remember the formula to make the best compost for your organic garden at home is the appropriate mix of nitrogen, carbon, air and water.
To avoid the hassle, you can also purchase bagged compost.
Top it with mulch:
Beginners make the mistake of stopping at manure. But your soil needs more than that; it needs mulch. Mulch is a layer of sawdust, straw, kitchen scraps, leaves, grass, clippings, hay, etc that is added to soil so that it retains its moisture content, fertility, and health. But most importantly it reduces weed growth
Use organic fertilizers:
Because chemical fertilizers are a big no, you can always go with the organic ones. They are kind to the soil, are equally beneficial and yield better quality crops. To make your own organic fertilizer for natural gardening, look out for the following plant and animal sources:
Plant sources for organic fertilizers:
Animal sources for organic fertilizers:
- Fish meal
- Blood meal
- Worm castings
- Fish emulsion from fish parts
- Bat guano
- Animal manure
To create your own organic fertilizer the key is to whip up the best mix of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Again, you can also buy bagged commercial organic fertilizers from the market.
Choose the Right Plants and Seeds
After preparing the soil, it’s time for some research. You will have to do extensive research to pick out the plants that best suit the climatic and regional conditions you are in. Go to a nursery or look up the internet to find which crops grow the best in your area. You might also want to know the companion crops to go well with the hero plant. The goal of having a companion plant is to repel pests and
There are many factors to consider before choosing what crops to grow? These include:
- What is the available space?
- What are the most famous locally grown vegetables?
- By when do you need to harvest the ripe crop?
- Do you need fresh or preserved organic produce?
Make Plant Beds
A popular practice in organic gardening is to make raised plant beds. They are not only easy to maintain but also make it easier for you to attend. Plant beds are easy to make too. Select the right area for the plant bed. This will depend on many factors too like availability of sun, nearness to the water source, tools and fence. After you have decided on a place, separate the bed from the rest of the garden by creating a brick boundary or a fence.
Control Pests in Organic Gardening
Organic gardening is looked down upon because the use of pesticides and fertilizers is prohibited. But it may come as a surprise to many that there are effective organic gardening pest control methods. You can use natural solutions to get rid of harmful pests without using chemical pesticides. Not only are pesticides harmful to the crops, but they are also bad for the environment.
Thankfully, there are natural and less harmful ways to protect your plants. These include:
- Use floating row covers
- Spray neem oil
- Directly spritz insecticidal soaps on soft-bodied insects
- Plant pheromone traps
- Deploy Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) bacterium
Organic Gardening Tips
Now that you know how to plant an organic garden, here are some handy tips you will need along the way:
1. Be on top of maintenance
You might do everything right, but if you are not on top of your tending game, your organic garden may not thrive. So, to avoid low yields and bad produce, water your crops in plenty. Here, drip irrigation is the best. But remember not to go overboard. Use water close to air temperature and rely on natural sources like rain.
Note: the best time to water crops is usually in the morning because of less evaporation in the presence of cool wind. Watering plants at night leaves them damp and susceptible to fungal infections.
2. Time all processes
In gardening, timing is everything. Patience and careful planning are especially essential in organic gardening due to the slow growth process in the absence of synthetic fertilizers. Select the right time window to aerate and fertilize the lawn
3. Keep up with weeding
Weeds are the most annoying bug in gardening. They compete with your primary crop for sustenances and considerably slow down the growth process. Therefore, removing weeds is a necessary evil of gardening. The best resort? Pull them out with hands. To reduce the growth completely, spread a layer of mulch on top of the soil.
4. Give some thought to designing
Before you get down to grow your organic garden, sit back! Sit back and decide on the pattern you are going to follow. How broad will the paths be? What will be the spacing between each crop? How many rows will your organic garden have and of what width? What is the pattern you are going to follow with the design?
5. Limit the spread of disease and pesticide
In organic gardening, there are ways (mentioned above) to remove pests naturally. But techniques like crop rotation, proper spacing and careful watering also helps to reduce the growth/spread of diseases and infections.
6. Select the right plant
Apart from preparing the soil, you also have to get the right plants for your garden. They must easily adjust to soil quality, temperature, drainage, and sunlight. While buying a seedling, go with the one raised without chemical fertilization and pesticide. Other times, some plants like sunflower, cucumber, squash and peas best grow from seeds.
7. Get the right tools
If you are a beginner at organic gardening, getting the right tools is quintessential. To get started out, you will need:
- Soil test kit
- Compost bin
- Garden gloves
- Watering can
- Pruning shears
8. Cleanliness is key
Cleanliness is the secret behind a healthy organic garden. Regular cleaning, weeding, removal of diseased leaves and foliage eradicate diseases. Decide on a day and schedule a weekly cleaning task to clean your garden of unnecessary elements.
Lastly, as we conclude, there is one significant element your plants need in abundance- love. Talk to them, tend to them like your babies and watch them flourish.
With all that crucial information on organic gardening and some handy tips, you are all set to start natural gardening. For extended help, how about we connect you with fellow organic gardeners? Download Kool Stories and share your prolific gardening skills with the world. Also, gain prompt knowledge and help from fellow connections in the gardening community. Join now!