Are you planning to start your own organic vegetable garden? Have you raised some vegetables before, but not by using organic methods? Perhaps you’ve decided that if you’re going to the effort of growing your own food, you want to make it as healthy and mouth-watering as possible for you and your family.And as well, there are the economic advantages. Visualize your own veggie patch, providing you with some, or most, of your fruit and veggie needs. This might save you between $30 and perhaps $100 per week. That could mean an extra $5000 in your pocket each and every year. It can be an even larger saving if you save your own seed! There’s also the environmental advantages of growing organically from home. Like providing habitat for beneficial insects, zero food miles, and biodiversity.
What is the definition of organic gardening?
Most organic gardeners will say it’s to grow sympathetically with nature – the environment. To use down to earth methods, systems and techniques that give you the results you want, without resorting to chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides. This doesn’t mean just in your veggie patch or orchard, it means all the garden area you are responsible for. You can’t really think yourself an organic gardener if you use organic methods in your veggie garden, but squirt your pathways with round-up or any other poisons.
Organic gardening starts with the basics – your soil. There are many ways to improve your soil. You can add compost, broken down manure from poultry, cows and other farm animals, and other bulky organic matter, like mulches. Getting to know what sort of soil you have is a good place to begin. Buy yourself a pH testing kit (available at hardware stores and good plant nurseries) and see what you’re starting with. The great news is that over time practically all soils can become nutrient rich and build great structure by regular additions of a variety of organic materials.
Producing your own compost is a traditional way of providing organic matter to add to your soil on a regular basis. You use waste from your garden, kitchen left-overs, chicken manure and many other items you would have to get rid of in some other way – again helping the environment. If space is at a premium in your garden, here are some other alternatives – try the Bokashi bucket system or how about a worm farm? Placing valuable nutrients back into your garden is such a wonderful way to start organic gardening.
Another simple way to make organic food for your plants is by making liquid fertilizers. They are cheap to make and you’ll use it as foliar sprays, feeding your plants directly through their leaves, or you can apply it to the soil around your plants.
Another system used by many organic gardeners is companion planting. Companion planting benefits your garden in many ways, including bug and disease prevention and you’ll end up with healthier, vigorous plants and a much more varied garden. To do this you grow many different plants together that benefit each other somehow.
To eliminate the use of dangerous insecticides you can grow plants that attract beneficial insects. Beneficial insects are the ones that consume pest insects. Beneficial insects can also do great gardening jobs, like pollinating insects, such as bees or butterflies. If you grow plants that attract insect-eating birds, and provide water for them, birds and other animals will be attracted to your garden.
These are some simple systems of organic gardening, but you’ll find them quite simple and inexpensive to employ as soon as you get started. By copying nature, you’ll be rewarded with great harvests of mouth-watering foods that are brimming with health benefits. If you want to start growing your own organic vegetables, consider beginning with a no-dig vegetable bed. This is my favorite way to start establishing any area. You can even create one on top of cement, so it doesn’t really matter what type of soil you’re starting with. Plus there’s no back-breaking digging. You can even raise the beds high enough that you don’t have to bend over to do your gardening.
One of the main reasons some people fail in their gardening efforts is that they don’t design with their plants in mind. Some things you need to consider before beginning your vegetable beds include:
- How far will you have to walk from your kitchen to your garden?
- Do you have a dependable source of water close by?
- Do you have access to composting materials?
- Are there trees shading the area?
Another thing I really urge you to do is to keep a journal of what you do (and when) in your vegetable garden. Keep records of when you plant things, how good the yield was, if you had too much or too little of certain vegetables. You can record many other details too. Like what kinds of pest you had a problem with, weather details – that sort of thing.
Organic gardening may seem quite complex at first, but like many things it’s just a matter of deciding to start somewhere and then taking the next step. You don’t have to know it all in one day, or even one season. In fact I don’t know anyone who knows it all when it comes to organic gardening (except perhaps Mother Nature – she seems to know exactly what she’s doing). When you’ve tasted your first organically grown tomato and can say “I grew this myself”, you’ll know that all that work paid off!