The Organic Garden
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
- Organic Gardening creates healthier, more flavorful fruits and vegetables.
- Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers seep into the ground water, poisoning our drinking water.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Dirty Secrets - Getting the scoop on compost and worm castings
- How to Acquire Compost Mulch?
Compost, also known as black gold to gardeners, is the cornerstone of healthy organic soil. This article gives you some pointers on how to get the black gold for free in your area.
- Organic Matter
The basics of soil structure and how to amend your soil with organic matter.
- Build a Compost Bin
A how to on building a compost bin for your yard.
- Composting with Worms
Learn the basic of composting with worms or Vermiculture. This is a great activity to do with children to get them interested in organic gardening. Worm composting is also a very efficient use of your kitchen waste. Within a year a fully functioni
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.
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.
- Caring for your plant while Conserving Water
We all need to be aware of our personal use of natural resources. Our planets resources are precious and not inexhaustible. We need to use our resources wisely and this article will teach you just how to maximize the benefits of the water you use in
- Drip Irrigation
The benefits of drip irrigation, soaker hoses and sprinkler hoses and how to install your own system for the home garden.
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.