How to Design Your Organic Garden
no dig gardening
The garden is where Nature and civilization meet so why would anyone want to use harmful pesticides and fertilizers in order to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers?
It is not necessary to do so. Your garden will flourish when you stick with organic and natural methods of growing.
If you starting you first garden or simply adding another bed to an existing garden, there are a few things that you can do that will not only reduce the work that you do but will help create the conditions that will enable the plants you select to flourish.
First we will look at what organic means; I define organic gardening as gardening without synthetic additives so everything that I use must be natural. In workshops I often use the term natural gardening instead of organic gardening; sometime when we think about organic we think about organic certification which is not necessary if you are growing for yourself- or even if you are growing for the market as long as you use terms such as natural or chemical free rather than organic there is no need to consider certification.
Back to building the garden bed: the first step is to decide how big the garden will be. The answer to this may rest in asking yourself two questions;
1- what do I want to grow
2- How much time do I have to spend in the garden?
Now that you have the answers to these two questions you will need to decide exactly where that garden bed is going? What you grow will depend upon the amount of sun or shade that the bed receives. Flowers and most herbs and vegetables require sunlight to bloom and produce fruit. Some plants could sue a midday shade break especially in areas where it gets very hot.
Your best next step is to determine your gardening zone, this will give you a tool that informs you about your growing season and this will help you select plants.
Now you are ready to put in that first bed. I always say that a good gardener grows soil and that the soil grows the plants. You can build healthy soil right at the beginning. I use a no-dig gardening method that helps build the soil and saves me labour.
Step One; measure out the garden: I usually make a rectangular bed about three feet across and 4-10 feet long; this way I can reach all the plants without stepping on the bed. In a further hub we will discuss other garden bed designs such as the keyhole garden.
Step Two: water the bed.
Step Three: lay down cardboard to cover the space, yes cardboard, make sure it overlaps so no grass is showing and none can grow through.
Step Four: water cardboard.
Step Five; cover cardboard in compost, water
Step Six, another layer of cardboard, water
Step Seven, add a mix of soil and compost and water.
You are now ready to plant. If you are using seeds plant as normal and the same goes for seedlings. Follow the direction on the seed packs.
The cardboard will breakdown quickly and I have discovered that earthworms have a fondness for cardboard and will help break it down as they help aerate and feed the soil.
I once used a winter’s worth of pizza boxes to create a garden bed and they were gone in less than 2 months.
Now once you have the planting complete, you can mulch with the material of your choice. This way you will reduce your need to water and weed which is another bonus.