Organic Vegetable Garden
Many home gardeners are making the switch to organic gardening methods. Growing organic vegetables means reaping the benefits of bountiful, fresh, tasty, healthy organic produce – which has been cultivated without using any chemical synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. It is better for you, better for the environment, and tastes fantastic.
But where do you start? Whether you are beginning from scratch or you have an established garden that you wish to transform into an organic garden, it’s not difficult to make the change to growing your own organic vegetables.
Starting an Organic Vegetable Garden – For Beginners
So the first question is, “how do I make my vegetable garden organic?”
It’s all about proper conditions and maximizing the health and richness of the soil.
- Try to orientate your garden in a sunny position that is sheltered from winds – if necessary, make use of a nearby hedge, wall, or trellis to provide some protection. Ideally, you’ll also locate your garden in a spot that has easy access to your hose, compost pile or bin, and gardening equipment.
- Create a compost pile or invest in a compost bin. It’s a great way to not only feed your garden organically, but to also minimize household waste by recycling organic foodstuffs – just remember to keep meat, dairy, fish and seafood products, pet waste, perennial weeds, and citrus peel out of your compost.
Add to your compost:
- Vegetable peelings
- Crushed eggshells
- Tea bags
- Coffee grindings
- Lawn clippings
- Leaf litter
- Plant prunings
- Scrunched newspaper
- Cardboard egg cartons
- Non-citrus fruit waste
- If your soil is naturally rocky or in an area compromised by tree roots, consider creating raised garden beds to make the process easier and more effective.
- Consider having your soil tested (your local nursery may offer this service). Is your soil very clay-based? Is it very sandy Testing it will enable you to identify the nutrients within your soil and understand what you need to do to optimize it for growing vegetables.
- Choose organic from scratch – this means sourcing organically-grown seeds or plants. These have never been exposed to chemicals or genetic modification.
Other Tips for starting an Organic Vegetable Garden
- Situate your garden in an area that receives at least six to eight hours of full sun per day.
- Maintain permanent garden beds that are ideally accessible from all sides.
- Nourish your soil with compost, leaf mold, and manure – organic matter such as these will encourage deeper, more extensive root systems to develop from your plantings.
- Plant seeds and seedlings at the recommended spacing.
- Plant relevant companion plants. These are plants which share a symbiotic relationship and benefit each other when grown together, increasing overall yield and health of the plant. For example:
- Use corn as a climbing support plant for climbing beans
- Grow lettuce between rows of carrot or onion (this smothers weeds)
- Plant basil alongside tomatoes
- Mix flowers among st vegetables to help control insects. Flowers such as calendula and alyssum attract ladybugs and hoverflies which control damaging pests such as mites, mealybugs, and aphids.
- Water frequently, especially in summer. If you can, collect rainwater for watering your garden as this is better for your plants than treated water.
- Add organic matter during winter so that by spring, it has been incorporated into the soil. Thereafter, top-up the garden with the organic matter around existing crops to suppress weeds and reduce the rate moisture is lost from the garden.
- Feed your soil with a boost of organic fertilizer (liquid seaweed concentrate is an example).
- Plant according to your local climate and your soil. Doing so will deliver bigger harvests of vegetables and better growth. For example, cabbage and chard do well in cooler areas, whereas tomatoes and sweet potatoes thrive in more temperate or warmer locales.
- Shaded areas are great for growing vegetables such as lettuce, Bok Choy, Rocket, leeks, and hardy fruit trees.
- Discourage slugs by removing hiding places such as long grass or overturned pots.
- Rotate crops around your garden
Yes, an organic vegetable garden is a commitment and it does take more work in many ways than other forms of gardening. But the benefits and personal rewards of growing organic vegetables for yourself can’t be understated: providing your family with vegetables (and herbs and fruits if you choose) that are untainted by chemical fertilizer residue, pesticides, and herbicides.