Organic growing, also known as organic farming is an alternative means of growing various crops while only using organic fertilizers such as bone meal, compost and manure. It also uses growing techniques such as companion planting or crop rotation. To deal with pest problems it uses biological pest control.
Location is very important simply because you need to put the garden in a strategic location. The garden should be getting enough sunlight and it should also have good soil. Most of the time, the ideal location should get at least 6 hours of sun per day. The area should also have good drainage. Simply put, establish your garden beds in the most convenient location for the plants.
Ideally, you should work on your garden during spring time so that you can easily go out and do all the necessary tasks. But when it comes to the planting, you will have to refer to the correct planting dates or the ideal growing season of each plant that you want to use for the garden.
You can plant a wide variety of herbs and vegetables in your organic garden. Most will recommend that you try to plant the one you like best for as long as you use high-quality seeds or seedlings. Some of the easiest plants to grow in an organic garden include green beans, onions, radishes and salad greens.
This will actually depend on your area. If you have enough space, you can always put your organic garden outdoors. If you have limited space, you should put it indoors instead.
If you’ve decided to grow your plants indoors, you will have to make use of additional accessories to ensure your plants will thrive even in an environment without much sunlight. I recommend that you try to use a grow tent to help provide light and protection to your plants. You can also use a grow box.
This factor will also depend on what is available to you. You can test the soil so you can check if it has good quality. If it does not, you can then opt for aquaponics or hydroponics.
You should also know that if a certain plant has started to grow well in the medium that is most convenient for you to use, you can actually increase your success by cloning that specific plant. You can use a cloning machine to preserve the genetics of a plant and get reliable results.
Starting an organic garden should not be expensive. Some people say that you can start by using what you have or by spending at least $75 for soil gardens. However, you will have to spend more for aquaponics and hydroponics.
Things you will need to prepare:
A garden tractor is a mini tractor that you can use to help cultivate the soil. You can also opt to use a compact tractor if you do not have one. For small soil gardens, you will need to make use of garden tillers.
This will be used to help you know more about the nutrient content of the soil. It can also be used to help you test the pH of the soil, allowing you to use fertilizers more effectively. If this is not available in your area, you can submit a soil sample to local agricultural office.
Chipper Shredders are basically used to turn wood into small wood chips. The woodchips will then be used to make compost.
These will be used to help you do basic gardening tasks. You will need common tools such as shovels for digging tasks, a dump trailer for transporting soil and debris, a good pruning shear as well as a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader so you can easily plant seeds or fertilize your garden.
The foundation of your organic garden should be good soil. As soon as you know where to put the garden, you need to check what soil type that specific area has. The more you know about the soil, the better you will be able to provide it with what it needs so your plants will grow properly.
Of course, you will also have to cultivate the land. When it comes to land cultivation, you might think that it is all about loosening the soil through digging, plowing, hoeing or tilling through a garden tractor or with the help of common gardening tools. But you should know that there is something more to it.
It is very important to understand that cultivation is about nurture. You are basically conditioning the land, nurturing what it has to offer so that your plants can grow properly. You can loosen the soil a foot deep, making sure that the soil no longer clumps and removing weed, debris and rocks along the way.
One of the best ways for you to cultivate the land effectively is to use a garden tiller for small plots of land, or a compact tractor so you can easily deal with large areas. These tools are a must have especially when it comes to making sure that the land is ready to take care of your organic plants.
Now that the land has been cultivated, it is now time to do the finishing touches on the soil before you plant. Use a soil testing kit and test the soil by following the directions. In most cases, you will have to use a comparator, a water dropper and a capsule that you have to break depending on the product.
You will have to take not of all of the soil’s deficiencies both in its pH and in terms of nutrients. You can actually test the soil without having to buy a kit or sending a soil sample. You can actually do the baking soda and vinegar test to test for pH. You can also do the squeeze, percolation and worm tests.
When it comes to making good compost, always aim to have a high nitrogen ratio and using organic waste that has a high carbon content. To make compost, select an area that is at least three cubic feet big. You can make a simple pile, or you can create a custom bin.
As soon as the location is ready, you can start to make the compost pile by alternately layering materials with carbon as well as materials with nitrogen. Materials with carbon are typically brown, while materials with nitrogen are green. You can use a wood chipper shredder to process the materials better.
Top off the pile with at least four inches of soil and use water to make it a bit moist. The compost should be ready after two months’ time. The compost might need to be turned once in a while but it should not smell. You can add more carbon rich materials if it does.
When making the plant beds, always try to make it as wide as possible. This will allow you to group the plants and help you maximize your compost. The plant beds can also help you weed and water the plants easily.
To make the bed, you can either opt to raise the ground by adding more soil to boost an area in the garden or make a wooden box to raise a rectangular section. Raised beds are created by building up organic soil and compost on top of your garden’s existing soil. There are different raised beds styles you can adopt depending on the type of plant you want to grow.
You need to follow specific instructions to do any of these two methods. Just be sure to avoid compacting the soil on the plant beds.
When it comes to the actual planting, be sure to choose the correct plant based on the temperature and the season. You can refer to the USDA hardiness zones so you can choose the right plant. Avoid buying seedlings raised with chemicals and make sure that you are going to use organic seeds.
So you can ensure that the plants will grow properly, dig furrows and allow the proper spacing for each seed or seedling. You can also plant ones that are known to grow without the need for much attention especially if you are not yet a skilled home gardener.
After you have planted the seeds, make sure that you are going to care for the plant until it starts to sprout or grow bigger. Keep the soil moist and do not forget to use mulch and remove weeds if necessary. You can also add compost so you can keep your plants nourished and strong.
In case your organic garden is grown indoors, the environment itself might not sustain enough light for the plants’ needs, even with the help of a grow tent. This is why I recommend that you check the light requirements of your specific plants and of the area to know whether or not you will need to use digital ballast or 1000-watt ballast for your plants.
Now that you have planted the seeds or seedlings and have officially started your organic garden, the journey is not over, in fact, it has only just begun. You will now have to tend to your garden at least once per day so that the plants will be able to establish itself until it grows abundantly for harvest.
You need to keep in mind that the plant needs nutrition from the soil. You need to keep the soil’s nutrients high with the help of compost. You should also consider checking its pH and nutrient levels using a testing kit from time to time.
Your plants need sunlight, but you need to keep in mind that too much sun or heat can harm them. Keep the watered properly and protect them from the sun using a cheesecloth if needed.
Avoid having pests around by removing and dead organic matter. Keep dead leaves and stems away from the plant bed and remove any dead plants right away.
You need to keep your gardening tools clean by disinfecting it or by cleaning it from time to time. This can help keep diseases away from your plants. You can use soap and water as well as a brush to clean your gardening tools.
Weeds can easily destroy all your hard work. Since you cannot use herbicides in an organic garden, you will have to use your own hands to pluck the weeds one at a time. Always try to see if the weeds grow back again and never mistake the plants for weeds.
When it comes to watering your plants, you need to keep in mind that there is a good reason why gardeners water plants in the morning. The temperatures in the morning are much cooler, allowing your plants to absorb most of the water you provide instead of allowing it to be lost by evaporation.
Avoid watering the plant when it is too hot or when it is already dark. You should only water the roots of the plant and not the leaves and the stem. Ideally, you should water the plant infrequently and not on a daily basis because giving it too much water can cause rot.
You can use an ordinary watering can to water your plants, but if you want more convenience especially if you have a large garden, then you can opt to use a wide variety of sprayers. You can use a garden sprayer, an ATV sprayer or a backpack sprayer. You can also use a hose end sprayer or a pump sprayer.
With an organic garden, you should never try to add commercial fertilizers that are not made from organic materials. Instead, you should opt to use the compost that you previously made or try using organic plant food that you can buy at most nurseries or agricultural and gardening stores.
What I do recommend however, is that you test the soil in your garden and add organic fertilizers based on the results. This means that you need to use products like chicken manure, other animal manure or vegetable matter. You should also consider using rooting hormones or organic rooting stimulants. Backyardboss.net has this interesting article if you’d want to read more about fertilizers.
Now that you have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure that your garden will thrive, other plants will also be taking advantage of the all your hard work. Aside from supporting the growth of seeds and seedlings, weeds that will absorb the nutrients and choke the plants will also thrive in your garden.
Since you are doing organic growing, the best thing that you can do is to try to remove the weeds by hand or try to mulch around your plants so that weeds will not be able to thrive on your plant bed. You can also opt to buy organic weed killers if this is available in your area commercially.
If not, you can always opt to make your own organic weed killer at home. You can use hot water, vinegar, salt and even newspapers to smother weeds. Just make sure that the plants that you are trying to grow will not be affected in any way. You can also use a landscape fabric, or a weed barrier.
These products can help prevent weeds from growing in your area. Aside from removing weeds mechanically by pulling, you can actually use a brush cutter or a commercial weed eater. Use only a weed eater or herbicides like a crabgrass killer if the weeds are found away from your organic garden.
Pests are naturally attracted to plants that have started to show signs of growth. This is especially true as the plant begins to mature and produce fruits for harvest. Pests can also come in all shapes and sizes. They can be in the form of caterpillars that will eat leaves, to snails and even to rats and larger animals.
Since you are trying to grow plants organically, you will have to make sure that you are going to use safe methods of getting rid of these pests. While you might be tempted to use pesticides that use toxins in order to kill insects and animals, you should know that these chemicals can also harm your plant. Most importantly, it contradicts with the very essence of organic gardening.
This is why instead of using them, most experts will recommend that you try to use insect repellents or ultrasonic pest repellents instead. You can also try to use mechanical traps such as a mole trap or a mouse trap. You might also be able to use a raccoon bait for as long as you put it away from the garden. All of these are organic methods and are, therefore, considered acceptable in this type of gardening.
While most gardeners will opt for simple herbs and ornamental plants, why not make the most of your efforts and target high-value crops instead? Start an organic garden that can give you fresh produce. You can try to grow tomatoes and other vegetables so you can harvest them later on and get a return on your investments.
You can always opt to use cold frames, and row covers so you can keep growing your vegetables despite the cold weather or the change in season.
If you think that you can grow one vegetable well, you can keep growing them or you can try to grow more by expanding your garden. On the other hand, vegetables that do not grow well for you should be kept at a minimum to lessen your losses.
This will allow you to grow plants with less maintenance. Perennial plants are known to come back after a year. This means that you will not have to keep planting them again and you will always have a steady supply of what they can provide.
When it comes to harvesting the fruits or the vegetables, I recommend that you try to harvest them as soon as they ripen and use them immediately while they are fresh. But if you have planted dozens of them, you need to make use of refrigeration as well as the proper storing techniques.
In most cases, you will have to store them in freezing temperatures to help vegetables last for several months. You can also opt to put them into storage bags or better yet, store them inside the soil. You can also opt to store your harvest in jars or with the help of pickling techniques.
During harvest, do not wash your crops until you need to use them. You should also avoid cutting off their stems so that they will not easily spoil. Try to know the specific storage requirements of each crop and find out whether you want to store all your harvest for days, weeks or even several months.
Organic gardening may seem like a tedious and meticulous task–from determining the right growing season, using the right organic soil and compost, keeping a healthy environment for the plants, and up to the day you harvest and store them. However, with the right amount of patience, the results of organic gardening are very rewarding.