- How To's - For Planting an Organic Backyard Vegetable Garden.
Did You Know?
It's very simple if you want to plant an organic vegetable garden year round. Even if the weather doesn't permit growing outside?
Just plant them in a climate controlled environment like your home, garage or even a small greenhouse. (see below) Healthy organic vegetable gardens can even be grown in small containers that will produce a bounty of veggies.
Even if you have never planted any before or even if you are an old hand at Planting Vegetables...... the spring rains have passed and in many parts of the country, that means it's time to plant a garden.
Whether you plan a typical garden or an organic garden, there are some basics to know before you start.
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Preparing The Ground
There are some things to do before planting vegetables
Before tilling a spot for Planting Vegetables, test the soil to see if it is dry enough. If the soil is too wet, tilling only creates big, wet, gunky dirt clods that will have to be broken up when they dry. So to test, grab a handful of soil first, If it will sift through your fingers? It's ready, if not, can it be broken down into small pieces with your hands while holding it. If the dirt breaks up in your hand? The ground is ready to till.
How would you like to have to till with a plow like this one in the photo to the right?
I choose organic gardening, but even if you want to grow a standard fertilized garden, the preparation is the same. I measure the size I want my garden to be, marking the corners with stakes and tying a string from stake to stake, so that it forms the rectangular shape I have chosen. I ALWAYS make this staked area slightly larger than the area I need, because I want clean dirt all of the way around my garden. I don't want any grass growing right up against my garden. Too much weeding.
Now that the size is determined and marked, I use a shovel and remove all of the grass on the surface of my plot, retaining it for later use. Once all of the grass it removed, I till my plot from end to end, working in organic compost and I mean lots of it. This is a critical step in the preparation. Once done, I usually let my ground then sit for a week or two then re-till it side to side, adding more organic compost and I till then side to side, this ensures the soil is loose. Plant roots can only grow if there is space in between the grains of dirt.
Well tilled loose soil with lots of compost mixed in....is the secret.
Preparing your ground - Use only the best.
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Vegetable Gardening Is Really Very Easy - Here's how to choose a place for your garden
You need to know if the area you have chosen for the garden has at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Plants of any and all kinds require sunlight to grow. Shaded areas are just not conducive to success. That being said, too much sun is bad also. If need be, rig muslin covers over the garden area to protect for prolonged sunlight or heat.
The spot you pick for Planting Vegetables must allow for sunlight to cover your garden on it's long axis (end to end). If it's not, you will find the tall plants (corn for example) will grow well, but the other plants planted either in front or behind the corn will wither or be stunted. As a rule, I plant my corn towards the back side of my garden one year and then move them to the front of my garden the next year.
Tomatoes as an example, need a bit of shade. If your location in the country gets really hot in the afternoons? You may want to consider a muslin or similar style cover above your tomatoes to shield them from the direct heat but still allow sunlight for growth. Carrots on the other hand require direct sun and lots of it.
How about Drainage?:
The area chosen must be able to drain well. Standing water will kill young or old plants. If unsure if the area will retain water? Simply build a drain system for the garden. It's easily done, by digging a trench away from the garden to flow into an area that can collect the water but not interfere with the yard or garden.
How to build a simple drain:
Trenching to a ready dug drain hole will do the job. A hole approximately 18" - 24" deep (deeper and wider if it rains more in your location) The hole should be about 12 or 18 inches across and 15-25 feet away from the garden but following the natural slope of the drainage of the yard.
Start the trench at slightly below the 'floor' of the garden and dig progressively deeper until reaching the drain hole. The pipe to use is a four or five inch plastic drain pipe to carry the water away from the garden and into the hole. Once done and the plastic drain pipe is buried? Fill the hole with pea gravel.
This allows excess water to flow away from the garden and to hold it until it seeps back into the soil.
Keep Your Vegetable Garden From Flooding - Use a flex drain system to keep water away.
Have you ever admired someone's garden and wondered how thy keep it looking so good? Part of the reason is drainage. They have taken the time to create a well drained garden. Nothing will kill or root rot your starts and plants faster than standing water.
When I dig my drain trench, I start at the edge of my garden, slightly below the level of the garden floor and dig progressively deeper all of the way to my drain hole. I don't dig very steeply though, just enough to keep the water flowing. This type of drain is easy to use and works great.
Evaluation: Depending upon your locale in the country and the rainfall, the drainage hole should be about 18"-24" deep and about 12"-18" across. (dig deeper and wider if you experience more rain in your locale.) Once dug? Fill with pea gravel. That's all there is, the hose does the rest.
For your Vegetable Garden - Choosing what to plant
While you allow your ground that has just been tilled, to rest, it's time to think about what you want to plant. Knowing what types of vegetables grow well in your climate is available from you local gardening center. Organically grown starts will be labeled and easy to find. If the store you have chosen does not carry organic starts, there will be others that do, just search them out.
One thing to keep in mind, is that if you are planting vegetables starts organically grown? Do not mix with standard grown starts (starts grown with chemicals and fertilizers)
Organically grown starts will be affected by the chemicals and fertilizer's that leach from the others if you mix the two. The standard grown starts will not perform as well, once weaned off the chemicals and fertilizer's they were grown with. When removed from that process will usually stunt or even die.
Bottom Line: Do not mix chemically grown starts with organically grown starts.
Why do potatoes make good detectives?
Because they keep their eyes peeled.
(you want to laugh, you know you do)
If you are going to be planting vegetables, why not grow them organically? - Takes no more effort than the other way...
Use the organic seeds and fertilizers I use, to grow a garden that will be your neighbor's envy.
I like to start my own seedlings, and Heirloom 100% Organic seeds are the way to go. These seeds are not grown with ANY GMO's (growth Modifier's) They are guaranteed organic seeds
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The perfect choice for those organic seeds. These boxes can be used over and over and over again for your veggie starts. Each one is perfectly sized to grow your starts until it is time to put them in the ground.
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How to prepare the starts
When I first get my starts home from the nursery or plant and garden center, I give them water. They don't need to be soaked, but I just get them good and wet, even if I'm going to plant today. All plants suffer 'planting shock' so I want to give my starts an edge to survive, I water them.
Now looking through my starts I just bought I look for any diseased ones or starts with bad leaves, etc. If I cannot prune this away, I do not plant them. If they are diseased, they will simply spread to the rest of the plants. So, before I plant (if I'm not sure) and after I have pruned the plant in question, I set it aside and watch it for a week or so to determine if I can still plant it.
Once I've decided the rest of my starts are good to go? Then it's time to take them out to the plot and put them in the ground. Planting Vegetables in sections has always worked for me, so I only take one species of starts at a time. There is nothing worse than having a huge pile of starts to plant and the sun drying them all out before I get them in the ground and watered or worse, mixed up.
In my case I always start with corn, because I plant more of it than anything else. I also plant additional corn starts over a three week time frame. This ensures I have plenty of fresh corn to eat during the summer.
I like having plenty of corn growing, with more coming up weeks later to possibly can or freeze.
Not all vegetables need the same nutrients, and tomatoes are one that require specifics. Jobe's formulation has been specifically created.
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Time for Planting vegetables...
How to do just that
Since I know how far apart I want to plant my starts, I space my individual holes accordingly. The holes themselves should be the same size as the root ball of my start, but probably twice or three times as big around. My plant roots need first, room to grow and second, not to grow into a neighboring plants root stems.
Once I have the holes dug at the appropriate distance apart, proper depth and dimensions? Set a plant next to each hole and get ready to place my starts in each hole. As I remove each plant from it's container, I inspect the root ball. If it is root bound and has been, I have to cut that ball off, in order for the roots to grow. I lay the ball in my hand and trim about a third of it off. I don't need much, just enough to expose my roots so they can grow.
I keep in mind that planting vegetables starts only adds to the 'plant shock' of the replanting, so I get my plants in the ground as quickly as possible and soil packed around them and then watered. The most important step after placing the plant in the ground is to get the roots and covered with the soil I took from the hole. I pack it tightly around the plant by hand.
After each plant is in the soil, I water immediately and move on to the next plant. (it helps reduce the shock) I repeat this until all plants are planted.
C'mon now. EVERY outdoor garden needs a good spade to break the clods and work in the mulch as well as shovel new. Truper Tru Tough is just the model you need.
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Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy - If I can learn something new? Anyone can.
Organic gardening is just a mind set really. When I found this book on Planting Vegetable's organically, I guessed it was just going to be another version of some that I already had or had read. But after I took it off the bookstore shelf that day, boy was I surprised. Not only is it about Organic gardening, but soil conservation, water usage, and everything under the sun to include tools. I have consistently grown healthier and bigger vegetables since I bought and started using this book. It's the A-Z of everything organic gardening and then some. I highly recommend this book to anyone starting out in organic vegetable gardening or even someone (like myself) who is an old hat at the business.
I always look for an edge, no matter what I do. I have gardened for years and have grown just about everything edible (except Brussel Sprouts, sorry) and I found this book and learned a few tricks I didn't know.
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Your Starts are in
What to do next
I have all of my starts in the ground.
they have been hand packed so that all roots are securely covered and safe from the air. They have all been watered and I am satisfied with the packing job around each as I know the job I have done.
Now it's time for my ground cover:
it's time for the last part of my planting vegetables evolution. or mulch as some folks call it. But whatever you call it, it's to slow down weed growth and help retain moisture in your garden.
There are many choices for ground cover:
Or (mulch as some call it) but for me? I use a mixture of grass clippings and straw. I've prepared it myself over the spring, prior to planting. I use straw instead of alfalfa, because it breaks down better.
I mix in some sawdust or even some ground up multi bark. All of the above is to ensure I maintain the proper moisture level in my garden. When covering my plot, I try to evenly distribute my ground cover to a depth of 3-4 inches. Once I have it spread and I am satisfied as to it's depth? I water once more and call it a day.
My Spring Vegetable Garden is successfully in the ground.
At this stage, many folks like to label their plants in the garden, but I already have it on my garden preparation paper. But the best part? Even had I not listed them in my preparation paper? Watching them grow and the mystery of what they will be.
Thanks for reading, stay safe and I'll see you on the trail--CampingmanNW
Vegetable Gardening Tools - Tools and accessories
I would be remiss if I did not include a section here today that included some of the tools and accessories you are likely to need and use in pursuit of your gardening venture. I know and use the Fiskar brand of tools, so what I tell you is from personal experience. You as the consumer should always make your own choices.
My wife loves this one, so we have both. Hers (this one) is dedicated strictly to gardening and is super easy to use. With a 'kids wagon' look, you can readily see that it's stable and strong enough to carry compost, fertilizer, etc.
Evaluation: Gorilla Carts are hands down the best out there for all gardening and yard needs. It's a tough, (can carry up to 600 Lbs. tough) stable and durable platform. Spring is around the corner, what are you waiting for? Shipping is free.