Planning an organic vegetable garden from scratch is not difficult—even for beginners. Growing vegetables without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers lets you enjoy delicious, chemical-free food. Also, buying organic vegetables from the store can be expensive. So, starting an organic veggie patch is also good for your pocket.
Because you won’t use any chemical pesticides, it makes sense to plan an organic vegetable garden well. Organic gardening methods involve having the right type of soil and choosing the correct site that gets plenty of sunshine. You also need to ensure that you have a good source of water and access to a compost pile.
Planning an Organic Vegetable Garden
Many of the principles in preparing an organic garden are similar to non organic ones. However, it’s vital to get the basics right. After all, if bugs infest your garden, you can’t spray them with insecticides to get rid of them. Your organic vegetable patch should have all the elements to grow healthy, disease- and pest-resistant crops.
Let’s look at a few of the essential features of starting an organic garden to grow vegetables.
Although you may have grand ambitions of growing all your own organic veggies, it’s always best to start small. Many organic gardener newbies make the mistake of starting out too big. They then get overwhelmed when weeds start taking over the garden. Planning a small, manageable patch allows you to gain experience and reap the rewards of organic gardening.
You’d be surprised at how much you can grow in a few square meters if you grow plants correctly.
Where to Position an Organic Vegetable Garden
An organic vegetable patch needs to get between six and eight hours of full sun daily. All types of plants need plenty of sunshine to thrive. The best position would be in a south- or west-facing garden with no shade—or north-facing garden in the Southern hemisphere.
Choose the Right type of Garden Bed
Before planting your organic vegetables, you should decide if you will grow them in the ground or in a raised bed. According to researchers, raised beds have advantages over planting in the ground. Here are a few of the differences between raised beds and planting straight into your garden:
- Raised beds are easier to manage and grow fewer weeds.
- It is easier to amend the soil and improve drainage in raised vegetable patches.
- Vegetables planted in a raised bed have a longer growing season.
Decide the kinds of Vegetables you want to Grow
The next planning stage before growing vegetables organically is to decide on what to grow. It’s usually best to start with plants that are easy to grow and that your family enjoys. Some of the best vegetables for beginners are potatoes, salad leaves, onions, garlic, carrots, beetroot and tomatoes.
Depending on what you plan to grow, you might need to buy trellises. Tomatoes, beans, varieties of peas, cucumbers, and squash all grow better if they have support on a trellis or cage.
Organic Soil and Compost for Growing Vegetables
To grow healthy, organic vegetables in your garden, you need soil that contains plenty of organic matter—manure, compost, or peat moss. These types of substances include essential nutrients that organic vegetables need to grow. Most Eco-friendly gardeners also invest in a compost bin or tumbler. This equipment gives a steady supply of year-long compost to feed your plants.
Another consideration for planning an organic vegetable patch is to make sure soil drains well. Puddles of water where plants are growing result in root rot and weak plants that eventually die.
Water Source in an Organic Vegetable Garden
The proper watering techniques are just as crucial as using organic-rich soil and plenty of sunshine. Without adequate hydration, plants will wither and die. During hot, arid summers, most vegetables require daily watering. So, it makes sense to have your vegetable patch near a water source. Hauling a heavy watering can around your garden in the sweltering heat isn’t much fun.
Grow from Seeds vs. Seedlings?
Most folks starting out with organic gardening plant seedlings rather than seeds. However, in time it makes better sense to grow plants from seeds. Compared to seedlings, seeds are inexpensive, and you can start to harvest your own seeds for planting the following year.
You also have to consider the types of vegetables you plan to grow. For example, carrots, garlic, peas, turnips, and parsnips are planted from seed or bulbs directly in the ground. But plants such as tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and leeks are often planted as seedlings.
How to Care for an Organic Vegetable Garden After Planting
Proper care is essential if you want to enjoy a bumper crop of organically-grown vegetables. Generally, organic gardening takes a bit more work than using chemicals. However, the rewards are great. Here are some tips on growing organic veggies:
- Watering—Always liberally water your vegetables early in the morning rather than in the evening. Also, water the ground, not the foliage.
- Weeding—Weeds compete for space and nutrients, so you have to remove them by hand. Applying mulch can help to reduce the number of weeds in your plot significantly.
- Fertilizing organically—Add organic compost to the soil before planting and around plants after they are established. You can also use natural fertilizers such as compost tea, seaweed emulsions, or add worms to the soil.
- Keeping a check on pests—Pests are a problem in any garden. In an organic vegetable plot, make sure plants are fed well and get enough moisture. You can also plant companion plants to ward off plant-destroying pests and attract beneficial insects.
- Harvesting—You reap the rich rewards of your labor when it comes time to pick your crop. It’s usually best to harvest vegetables regularly as they become ready. The best time to harvest your vegetables is in mid-morning.