A Complete Guide to Creating Your Own Organic Garden

comments (0) August 18th, 2016

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Ever dreamed about tending your very own little veggie patch complete with wholesome food? In this simple introduction to the practice, we show you how to get started even if you don't have a vast wealth of gardening knowledge.

Why Garden Organically

Growing your own vegetables and herbs to use in the kitchen gives you a great sense of achievement. From watching over your little seedlings to picking the fruit at harvest time organic gardening is both exciting and challenging. Knowing exactly where your food has come from is comforting, you can rest easy in the knowledge that you and your family are not ingesting pesticides in your vegetables. Buying organic vegetables at the store can be expensive, especially when shopping for a family, by growing them yourself you not only reduce your grocery bill, but you also contribute to the well-being of the environment and tap into the great tradition of cultivating nourishing food from the earth.

Your Guide to Creating An Organic Garden

1.Starting Out

The first thing to do when planning an organic garden is to decide what you want from it. Consider the vegetables that you include most your diet. Aim to source these from your garden in future. This plan will help avoid you planting a vast variety of veg that you never eat.

Observe the area that you intend to use for a few days. Check the amount of sunlight it gets on a daily basis, whether there are high winds in that part of the garden, and if the soil drains well there. Soil test kits can help you determine the quality of your soil. To begin, you will need good soil, if not concentrate on whipping it into shape before planting.

2.Preparing your Bed

Flower beds and veggie patches come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the space available you can choose to plant directly into the earth in a designated space, create a raised bed or plant in pots on a patio or balcony.

If you are planting directly into the ground, then check your soil quality first. As a general rule of thumb, when moist the soil should hold its shape when you squeeze it in your fist, but should crumble when you poke it. If it doesn't crumble then it is too wet, or if it doesn't hold its shape at all then it is too dry. Dry soil can be enhanced with organic soil or compost but soil that is too wet highlights a drainage problem. In this case, try the soil in a different part of the garden.

Dig your bed over three weeks before planting. Break up the large clumps of soil and remove any weeds & large stones. Watch the bed and pull out new weeds as they emerge, making sure to get the roots too. If the weeds are persistent then you can burn them out by watering the soil before covering it with a tight sheet of plastic, weighed down at the edges. Then let the sun do its work for about 6 weeks.

3.Choosing Plants

Choose plants that will thrive in your environment. Knowledgeable staff at your local garden centre can help you to ascertain which types of plants do particularly well in your climate & which will fare badly. It is best to start with plants which are easy to grow, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, and strawberries are all relatively simple choices to begin with.

You can either start from organic seeds bought in a packet from a gardening company of your choice or with seedlings. The seeds may need to be started off indoors to give them a chance before planting outdoors, while the seedlings can be planted directly into your garden. Sow your new plants in groups within the bed to reduce wasting water and to make fertilising easier but leave a good distance between rows of plants to allow the air to circulate in the soil which minimises fungus.

4.Tending to Them

Water – Water your plants first thing in the morning for best results. The water won't immediately evaporate as the temperature should still be low. Watering at night when it will be cold for the next few hours means that the roots will be soaking overnight which can cause rot.

Aim the flow of water at the soil rather than the plants to keep the soil damp so that the plant can soak it up through the roots. Test the dampness of the soil by sticking a finger into the earth to decide if they need to be watered, if the soil is damp beneath the surface then leave watering until next time.

New plants and those that are beginning to bear fruit need most attention so prioritise them for watering. In keeping with your organic garden philosophy, try to recycle rainwater for your plants. The temperature of rainwater better for the plants than cold water from the tap.

Weeding & Pest Control – When you garden organically there is no short way around weeding, it just has to be done. Keep on top of it by plucking out the whole weed as they appear.

The best way to control pests in your garden naturally is by growing a range of different plants to encourage insects that feed on pests into your garden. Ladybirds are one such example, by planting flowers that they enjoy they will feed on the pests that would otherwise devour your veg. Welcoming birds into the garden will also help keep pesky bugs from wreaking havoc on your plants.

Fertilising – Mulch can be added to the soil to ensure that it is nourished along with reducing the need for water and decreasing the ability of weeds to thrive. Mulch acts as a protective covering over the soil locking in nutrients yet preventing weeds from thriving. Bark, grass cuttings, and dead leaves will decompose over time nourishing the soil in addition to keeping weeds at bay. Do a thorough weeding before adding mulch to your bed and make sure you don't cover any new seedlings or they won't grow.

5.Harvesting

When you are picking your fruit and vegetables from the plants take a few from each plant at a time rather than focussing on just one plant. Keep an eye on them so that you can remove the fruits when they are ready to be plucked as the more you harvest from a plant the more it will produce. Use scissors to remove fruit to prevent damaging the stem.

6.Maintenance

At the end of each season you will need to perform some maintenance on your garden so that it will be nice and fertile for next year's growing season. Remove annual plants by cutting from the stem rather than disturbing the soil, unless you have plants which have been diseased, in which case you need to ensure that you remove the entire root. The other plants can be left in place over winter to provide cover for the soil. Now is a good time to add compost to the soil too, allowing it to work in over the winter months.

Remember to start small, test out your soil and procedures in the first year, this will allow you to see what works for you and to tweak your approach for the following year. Once you have proven to yourself that it can be done, you can expand with confidence in Mother Nature and your own abilities.


posted in: garden, Vegetables, organic, Grow, home, how, to, own