Tips for Growing Organic Vegetables
An Organic Vegetable Garden
Learn how to grow vegetables the organic way. There are many ways to keep your soil in good shape and grow bigger and more beautiful plants in your garden without using dangerous chemicals. You don't need to use purchased sprays for many of the plant diseases or insects either. Here are tips you can use. These ideas are not only eco-friendly but should save you money.
Asparagus is the first vegetable ready for the table in the spring, so it plays an important part in the garden. It can be a very ornamental plant. I've seen florist use it in bouquets for greenery. It is a perennial so it returns every year.
Rather than dealing with diseases be sure to buy resistant varieties. Recommended are Jersey Giant and Jersey King which are male varieties which mean they will produce heavier yeilds. For a different colored and sweeter type try Purple Passion.
1. If you don't have room for asparagus in the vegetable garden, plant it as a border with flowers in front of it for a pretty yard. My neighbor has it planted behind his garage and they get plenty for fresh eating every year.
2. The main insect pest you may have to deal with is asparagus beetles. If you raise chickens, let them take care of the pest or encourage birds to live in the area.
3. At the end of every season, cut off the foliage and burn the entire plant. This helps to keep disease and pests away the following year.
4. Never plant onions and garlic near asparagus. It hates them.
Snap beans are a staple in our house. You can grow either a climbing variety or a bush bean. Make sure you choose a stringless variety unless you want the extra work of stringing them.
1. If you’d like to speed up the germination of your seeds, just wrap them in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag. The plastic bag will keep the paper towel from drying out. You will need to check the seeds everyday and just as soon as they start sprouting, plant them in the garden.
2. It is important to plant beans in warm soil. If the soil is still cool, the beans may rot or may not germinate. If it is extremely dry that year, you may need to keep them watered.
3. Plant petunias around the bean plants. They deter insects that bother beans.
These are an easy plant to grow except for dealing with insect problems. They produce a nice crop for the space they take up, so they work well in a small garden.
1. To protect your plants from cabbage worms, cut-up old nylon hosiery and place over the plant. Use a rubber band and fasten lightly. Be sure the plant doesn’t already have eggs from cabbage butterflies under the leaves. The eggs will look like tiny green spots.
If you don't have nylons, net that can be purchased at the fabric store will work also.
It helps do this right after you plant.
2. I had all the signs of cabbage worms, but I couldn't see any worms on the plants. One morning I noticed a finch on my broccoli and it occurred to me that the finch were eating the worms. Putting out finch seed may help to keep the worms away.
3. To keep cabbage butterflies away, plant mint near broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. The mint family can be very invasive, so it would be better to just put a pot of it near them. If the container has drainage holes in the bottom, place something underneath it. Mint spreads with it's root system under the ground. That is why it is so hard to control. Later it can be hard to remove from the garden.
4. When picking these crops just use a knife and cut off the usable part. The plant will put on a new head of cabbage and new sprouts of broccoli, or brussel sprouts..
My garden is just too small for growing a reasonable amount of corn, so I don't include it. Here are some tips I've heard or have found for growing corn.
1. Corn requires a large amount of nitrogen. It helps to plant beans the year before you plant corn because they add nitrogen to the soil.
1. Peppers don't like a super rich soil or the plant will grow huge and you won't get any peppers. One year I used the compost from the compost pile and planted the peppers in that. I ended up with 5 foot tall plants that were beautiful, but there wasn't a single pepper on them.
For more tips on growing peppers, read this page. How to Grow Organic Peppers
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1. Always buy certified seed potatoes. If they aren't you will fight disease.
2. Plant horseradish near potatoes to keep away potato bugs. It should be planted in pots unless you want your entire garden overtaken by it.
3. To prevent diseases, change the area every year. Many potato diseases stay in the soil.
1. If your squash develops powdery mildew, first remove all infected leaves. This will help the plant get more air circulation. Then using a spray bottle, spray milk on the leaves.
2. If the squash is rotting on the ends, the soil needs more calcium.
1. Plant dill near tomatoes and you won’t get tomato worms.
2. If you are getting a lot of tomato worms on your plants it is probably because they are near a source of light at night, but not always. One year I had my plants covered with them. I had the plants in containers on my deck and the light was turned on often at night. Thank goodness our dog loved tomato worms and ate them every morning.
3. To save the green tomatoes that haven't ripened in time place them in a brown paper bag to ripen properly or wrap in newspapers. This works really well. You’ll have trouble believing that they didn’t ripen on the vine. Just don't do like I did one year and forget them. You'll find rotten tomatoes all shriveled up.
Other Helpful Ideas
1. You can make the soil warm-up faster by placing black plastic on the ground where you intend to plant. Leave the black plastic where there are sun loving plants like tomatoes and watermelon.
1. Crush eggshells and work into the garden.
Dogs and Pests
1. Slugs and Snails - Place a bowl of beer in the garden at night and slugs will crawl in and drown. I've tried this and it works really well. Discard the beer after the first night.
2. Ants - Tempt ants with sugar mixed with an equal part of borax. The ants will take the sugar back to the nest and the queen ant will eat it and die.
3. Dogs - Our backyard started the year looking like it was polka dotted. This was due to the high nitrogen content of dog urine. Nitrogen is good for the soil, but the urine contains too much of it. The dog urine is the same as if you spilled too much fertilizer on the soil. In concentrated amounts it will kill the grass or plants.
If you've had a dog, you know the males love to urinate on plants and shrubs. The females don't mark in this way, but their urine is stronger because they squat instead of raising their leg and the urine is more concentrated, because it stays more in one spot.
You can dilute the urine with 4 times the water that they excreted. This is a lot of work though unless you are watering anyway. That is one of the cost of having a pet.
For the garden, I put in a small white landscaping fence that is just 6" tall. If the dogs entered the garden, I just said "No." It didn't take long for the dogs to learn, because the fence created a boundary that they knew they couldn't cross.
Now, for those spots in the lawn. All I can say is to keep it watered to help dilute the urine. Try to get the dog to use the same area, so the spots aren't all over the yard. Clean out the old grass that is already dead and reseed. I know - what a job!
4. Be sure to include onions in the garden because they deter aphids. Chives, garlic and leek should do the same trick.
5. Marigolds will work to keep away most insects, but it does attract the Japanese beetle. I've found them to be a good trap though. The beetles will burrow in the marigold and then you just need to cut off the flower and dip in oil. The taller marigolds seem to work best because they have a stronger odor.