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The Organic Garden

Updated on March 24, 2012

Organic Gardening 101

Welcome to The Organic Garden, my name is Lauren, and I would like to take you on a tour through the basics of organic gardening. My goal is to extol the virtues of Organic Gardening and hopefully lead more people down the path of sustainability. If you have never gardened before than I hope this will inspire you to give gardening a try, and to support our environment with organic gardening methods. If you have been gardening for years, but have not yet experienced the joys of an organic garden, then I hope to persuade you to begin to transition your garden today. And if you are a lifelong organic gardener, I hope you may pick up a few new tips and maybe leave a few tips of your own in our guest book.

Reasons to Garden Organically

  1. Organic Gardening creates healthier, more flavorful fruits and vegetables.
  2. Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers seep into the ground water, poisoning our drinking water.
  3. The longer you garden organically the less you have to do to amend the soil year after year. Organic Gardening add nutrients and topsoil back to the earth creating a richer soil year after year.
  4. Conversely, Chemical fertilizers strip the land of much needed topsoil, which is why with chemical fertilizers, you need to add more and more chemicals each year to maintain the same results.
  5. Chemical weed killers have created stronger and stronger weeds. We are now seeing a rapid increase in "Super weeds" which can not be killed by ordinary methods.
  6. Chemical fertilizers are picked up by the plants roots and transfered to the fruit, which is then ingested by us. The chemical toxins build up in your body, which among other things causes cancer as well as other diseases. Think of it this way. If the product is poisonous when you put it on the plant, it will still be poisonous when you harvest the plant. Just in a smaller dosage.

Goodness from the ground up.

Dig right in and get your hands dirty.

Soil is the key to all gardening success, a well-built garden soil can improve your plants vigor enormously and conversely a poor soil can cause poor production or even crop failures. The garden soil will be the home of your plant through its entire life and should be prepared with care.

Your first step should be to determine the condition of your existing soil. The condition of the soil is the Ph of the soil as well as its water retention and nutrients. You can test the Ph of your soil by purchasing a Ph tester, an inexpensive electronic tool that reads the soils Ph level. You can also contact your local county extension service to submit a sample of your soil. They will test your soil and give you a report on the ph of the soil as well as the various levels of nutrients in your soil.

Identifying the consistency of your soil is even easier. Clay soil is a heavy reddish colored soil that is difficult for some plant roots to thrive. This soil retains water and may cause standing water in heavy rains. Sandy soil is a light soil that is the opposite of clay, it drains quickly and there are many plants that prefer a sandy soil, especially succulents and carnivorous plants. Loam is right in the middle, it is not to heavy and not to light.

Once you’ve learned some basics about your soil, it time to start amending the soil with a good quality organic material. The first thing you will want to do is loosen the soil in your bed area at least 6 to 12 inches, preferably up to 18 inches deep. The looser the soil is around your plant roots, the easier it is for them to grow deeply, and deep roots mean healthier, better producing plants.

After loosening the soil you will mix in about one to two inches of organic materials including peat moss and organic compost or organic worm castings into the soil, mixing well. Now you have an amended soil that your plants will be very happy to live in.

Meeting your plants specific needs.

Now that you have created a nice home for your garden you will need to identify the specific nutritional needs of the individual plants that you chose to plant. In many cases a good all around organic fertilizer will do just fine. However meeting the specific needs of your fruit, vegetable and herb plants will produce higher yields and more flavor. Many gardening supply companies offer premixed fertilizer which meet the specific needs of different plant groups. My recommendations are Tomatoes Alive, for Tomatoes, Eggplants and Peppers and Vegetables Alive for the rest of your vegetables and herbs. Both of these products are from Garden's Alive, which is an online retailer of organic and sustainable gardening supplies.

The Vegetable Gardeners Bible - The ultimate reference guide for the organic gardener.

This book will help you determine the specific needs of most common vegetable plants. It offers detailed information on when and where to plant different vegetable varities. What soil amendments are needed, what plants grow well together and what plants do not. It also covers creating raised beds, good bugs and bad bugs and what to do about them, and how to keep out other critters that are looking for a snack. If you buy one book about Organic Vegetable Gardening, this should be it.

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible: Discover Ed's High-Yield W-O-R-D System for All North American Gardening Regions

My number 1 recommendation for any organic gardener, especially beginning Gardeners.

 

Water our most precious resource - Finding the right balance between watering your plants and conserving water

Here are a collection of articles which will help you to learn more about having a sucessful gardening experience while also creating a more sustainable household for you, your family and our planet.

Although insecticide

use in the U.S. increased more than tenfold since 1945 to date, crop losses to insects have nearly doubled during this period.

- David Pimintel, Ph.D., Cornell University

Organic Weed Control - A Great Video on How to Control Weeds in an Organic Garden

Writing a Garden Journal

The best way to learn from your sucesses and failures.

Keeping a garden journal can be one of the most valueable tools of the home gardener. Recording your sucesses and failures can help you adjust and become more sucessful year after year.

Planning next years garden is a great activity that can keep you busy during those cold and dreary winter months. Use your garden journal to map out what you would like to plant next spring summer and fall. Draw diagrams of your garden and experiment with new layouts.

During the gardening season, record garden information and ask yourself these questions. When did you started your seeds indoors? Should you start them earlier or later next season? What plants transplanted well, and which did not? What varities of plants you planted and how did you like them? Did they produce well, did you enjoy the flavor? Did you have to much of one crop or too little of another?

And don't forget to write down any new ideas that you would like to try for next season or new varities which you would like to grow.

Whether you have been organic gardening all your life or if you are brand new to organic gardening, or anywhere in between, we would love to hear your garden tips. Have you found a great product to help in your garden? Do you have a secret tips for the best tasting organic tomatoes? Did you read a great article on organic gardening lately? Do you like this lens? Any comments, tips, suggestions or advice is appreciated.

Guestbook for Gardeners New and Old - Leave your comments or tips

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    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 4 years ago

      Your tips about organic gardening are really great!

    • lilymom24 profile image

      lilymom24 5 years ago

      The poster above is so cute! Enjoyed the organic gardening tips.

    • turtleface profile image

      turtleface 6 years ago

      You pointed out some great things. I especially enjoyed that you pointed out the use of worms in the garden. Encourage their presence. Use old food scraps and place those back into the compost pile to be placed back into the garden. Its recycling the organic matter and nutrients that they contain back into the food supply... which helps the soil keep from being depleted.

    • RawBill1 profile image

      Bill 6 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      You have some great advice here. I think the first thing organic gardeners need to do is to compost, compost and compost! I agree with testing the PH too as different crops require different soils and we need to know how to alter the PH as well for these. I have a sequel Lens to my "From Lawn To Food Forest" as I have moved house and started again. I am hoping to get it published soon! Stay Tuned!

    • franstan lm profile image

      franstan lm 6 years ago

      Great lens

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 6 years ago

      Thank you! I'm getting the itch for spring and this is a lovely place to land!

    • Fox Music profile image

      Fox Music 6 years ago

      Our Compost Pile Gets Larger Every Year.., and so do our worms - Great Lens Thank you

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 7 years ago

      Love this lens, we are becoming organic gardeners and loving it.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Very nice lens. My husband and I used to grow almost all of our food, organically, and always had way more than we could use, even with what we'd lose to insects. We were big on mulching, using leaves, grass clippings and straw to keep the moisture in the soil and save on water. When we moved back to Flagstaff (Arizona), we stopped gardening, but I'm really starting to miss it.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 8 years ago

      Nice lens. I live in the Southeast. Sometimes one must use insecticides, but I always try to use organic and natural ones first.

    • SusanFaye profile image

      SusanFaye 8 years ago

      Thanks for the tips! We started composting two years ago and think growing organic just makes sense...

    • profile image

      flowski lm 8 years ago

      Living healthy is all about a natural foods and lifestyle, that starts with organic gardening.

    • steveffeo lm profile image

      steveffeo lm 8 years ago

      Excellent lens high 5 and welcome to the Organic Gardening group.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      The only way to truely know what you're eating is to grow it yourself.

      Excellent lens.

      Lizzy

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 8 years ago from Minnesota

      What a nice lens, Lauren! We are organic gardeners by default, I think...we simply have never used chemicals or pesticides on our gardens. And there's nothing quite like a vine ripened tomato that you KNOW is the best it can be. Yum!