Tips to Make Your Organic Garden Successful
Many times when people hear about organic gardening they think it is harder than conventional methods. I'm not sure why, as "organic gardening" has been around for thousands of years. Chemicals were invented within the last century and not to make gardening easier. They were invented to dispose of chemicals leftover from war times. People thought it would be better for everyone involved if we could just spray a chemical on our plants and fields and fix all of our problems.
As many people found out though, it didn't work the way they planned. What was supposed to make our lives easier just created a mess and harmed animals, people and the planet. It turns out organic gardening was the better way to grow fruits and vegetables all along. Whatever your reasons for using organic methods are, we could all use some tips to make it easier.
To truly garden organically you need to use organic seeds and soil to start with. This can be the toughest part of it all if you are new to gardening. Organic seeds are more expensive and can be hard to find. Many stores sell a small selection, but to truly get exactly what you want you will need to order seeds from a company. Once you get started though, you can save your own seeds from year to year and you will be able to grow exactly what you want, organically, without any cost.
Soil is also expensive. You can garden two ways, in your own ground or in a raised bed. Because our yard is full of tree roots, we opted to start some raised beds. We had to buy all new soil, which really added up. But at the same time we started a compost pile of our own and now we have all the organic dirt we could ever need - for free.
Once you have your seeds started it is time to figure out your garden plan. There are natural ways of keeping pests at bay and keeping weeds under control. Plant your fruits and vegetables close together and the plants will choke out the weeds rather than the other way around. Mulching heavily with natural material is another great way to keep weeds down. If you walk through your garden every day (and you should) it is relatively easy to yank any weeds that might be popping up. Weeds are very easy to pull when they are small, but can be extremely difficult to pull as they get bigger. And for heaven's sake, don't let them go to seed or you will be battling those weeds for years to come.
One of the best ways I have found to keep pests away is to plant strong smelling flowers in and around my vegetables. This discourages the bad pests and also can possibly confuse them. By planting specific flowers around your garden you can also attract the good bugs, such as lady bugs and praying mantis. These insects will eat the bad bugs without harming your plants. If you provide a habitat that would attract toads to your garden they will also keep the insect population under control.
By rotating crops each year you will also prevent diseases from occurring and confuse pests. It's funny how insects can actually remember from year to year where their favorite foods are, but they can. Mixing things up will force them to go elsewhere in search of food.
Some of our biggest garden pests though, are animals. From deer to voles, animals can destroy an entire crop or garden in a night. But what can you do to prevent this? I have found the best way to keep the animals out is with fencing. We have a fence high enough that the deer can't jump over. It was a one time expense - much cheaper though than buying expensive deer repellent each month. At the bottom of our fence we have a small chicken wire mesh that rabbits can't squeeze through.
If you have a problem with animals coming from underground and digging up into your beds you can lay down this same chicken wire underneath the dirt in your raised bed so that the animals can't burrow up through. We also have a dog. The smell alone does wonders for keeping animals away, but he also likes to bark at them.
Organic gardening is very rewarding and is so much better for everyone involved. Rather than buying a chemical at the store to handle whatever pops up unwanted in your garden, use these tips to keep your fruits and vegetables healthier and in better the shape the natural way. Do some planning ahead of time and plant your garden the natural way to start with and keeping it organic as the seasons go by will be much easier.