Edited by Graeme, Monika, Robbi, Lynn and 2 others
Organic gardening is growing flowers or vegetables without the use of any synthetic components, including insecticides or fertilizers. In fact, organic gardening replaces any resources that it uses, for instance using compost to put nutrients back into the soil or planting some type of legumes so that you can get nitrogen back into soil that has been depleted of it.
If you want to try out organic gardening, then you need to take a some very specific steps, some of which are different from regular gardening. These include:
- 1Planning and analyzing the proposed garden site
- 2Digging up your garden site
- 3Enriching the soil with natural preparations
- 4Selecting and planting the plants
- 5Dealing with pests in a natural way
- 6Harvesting your results
Planning/Testing/Digging Your Site
- 1You should figure out the size you want and if it is going to be a vegetable garden or a bed of pretty flowers. Even for an organic garden, you need to choose a site that gets enough sun and one that will drain well when it rains.Before you start buying your seeds or plants and supplies, it's best to plan where you are going to put your garden.
- 4If your soil falls apart, it's likely to be full of sand which doesn't have many nutrients, nor does it hold water well.If nothing happens when you poke the soil, that means you probably have clay, which doesn't drain very well.
Enriching the Soil with Natural Preparations
- 1Since organic gardening is free of any chemicals or other artificial preparations, you must find natural ways to make the soil richer for your plants. This ensures that you won't be ingesting or exposed to harmful toxins in your vegetables or flowers.Getting good soil for organic gardening means using composting to get the soil into shape.
- 2Plants need the right nutrients and there are numerous organic methods to getting them, including:
- Composting - You can make your own compost by using your kitchen and garden waste or buying bags of compost at a garden center. Compost is made of decomposed organic ingredients like vegetables, fruit, kitchen food scraps, leaves, newspaper, cardboard, shredded paper, grass clippings, etc. This all breaks down over time and provides the enrichment the soil needs.
- Organic Fertilizer - Organic fertilizer is usually made up of some sort of animal manure - cow, bats, pigs, horses, or chickens. It must be aged by leaving it piled up for a few weeks or months. It can be left uncovered but covering it will help to keep in heat to break it down faster as well as helping to keep it dry. Spread it on the soil a few weeks prior to planting.
- Wood Ash - Wood ash adds potassium and trace elements, and as a bonus, it also absorbs harmful toxins. You can use the ashes from your fireplace or a wood stove. But don't use the ashes from the charcoal in your BBQ grill, as it may have harmful additives and chemicals in it.
- Choose your Plants - You can use either seeds or plants, but make sure that the place you buy your plants from doesn't use artificial chemicals to grow them. Otherwise you will be adding artificial components and therefore won't have an organic garden. If the seeds and plants come from organic sources they should be marked as such. Be sure to choose healthy plants and fresh seeds, old seeds don't always germinate and may not produce healthy seedlings.
- Planting your Plants - All plants should be placed into the prepared ground using the right depth and spacing for the plant. Be sure you plant according to the correct season, planting marigolds, for instance, in the fall doesn't usually work well. Dig the right-sized hole, put the plant or seeds in, fill the hole with soil or compost, pat down and water well. It's often good to cover the area with mulch, grass clippings, or hay to help keep the weeds away as your garden grows. Be sure to water regularly as newly planted seedling or even mature plants need moisture to bed in.
- 3Here are a few simple methods to keep pests from destroying everything:Dealing with Pests - There are several organic ways to deal with the pests that could ruin your garden.
- Take one gallon of water and mix in two tablespoons of vegetable oil, two tablespoons of baking soda, and two tablespoons of powdered laundry soap. Put it into a sprayer and spray directly on the bugs attacking your plants.
- You can also put some ground pepper (red or black) around and on the plant leaves or put small amounts of blood meal around in your garden to repel the bugs.
- For slugs, put out a small amount of beer in a small container (like a plastic cup) sunk in the soil.
- The slugs will slide in, get trapped and drown, what a way to go, right?!
- Another way to deal with snails and slugs is to boil up 5-6 whole heads of garlic in 1 gallon of water, strain the liquid, put it into a sprayer and spray all the vulnerable plants in the garden.
- You could also encourage the birds to eat the slugs, snails and bugs by putting up bird feeders and a bird bath. Be sure to keep the water clean.
- 4Everything will taste better and be better for you, so enjoy organic gardening and the fruits of your labor.Harvesting Your Bounty - Once your vegetables and flowers have grown to maturity, you can harvest your bounty of beautiful and tasty organic produce, knowing it doesn't contain any harmful chemicals or other toxic ingredients.