The decision to begin an organic garden – particularly an organic vegetable garden – is a great first step to a more sustainable, cost-effective, and self-sufficient way of life. It is also your first step to a great new healthy and very rewarding hobby.
As a complete beginner, there are a few important things you need to know before you get started.
Here are some important things that you should do and what you should not do specific to vegetable gardening, so as to have a healthy and productive organic garden.
What To Do In Your Organic Garden
- A smaller garden is easier to manage, especially when you’re just starting and finding your feet as a gardener.
Choose a great location for planting your garden.
- Determine which vegetables you wish to grow; be guided by their requirements for sunlight or shade. Most vegetables require full sun.
Plant to the seasons.
- Some plants do well in winter; others in summer. Tomatoes, for example, are a warm-weather plant as frost and very cold conditions will shock them.
Choose just a few types of vegetables to start with.
- Focusing on just two or three vegetable types will be a great start and not too overwhelming. Green beans and zucchini are quite easy to grow for beginners.
Use the right soil.
- Vegetables require organic matter like leaves and bark, as well as compost in the soil. Your local nursery can provide advice for the type of soil your chosen vegetables require. Remember to apply compost! Testing your soil first is a good idea, as this will provide you with the knowledge of what type of soil you have and whether you need to add certain nutrients before planting your vegetable seeds or seedlings. Click here to find out more about Organic Soils and Fertilizers
Use an Organic Fertilizer
- These are made from plant or animal by-products. Some examples are kelp meal, fish emulsion, soybean meal, bone meal, feather meal, and composted manure. This provides slow-release nutrients which feed the soil as opposed to feeding the plants.
- Mulching your soil helps with water retention and less watering requirement. Use chemical-free grass clippings, chopped straw, leaves, newspaper, cardboard, etc.
Keep Soil Moist
- Bacteria and fungi which are critical to soil health rely on water – they will become dormant if the soil is too dry.
Control Pests Manually
- Knock pests directly off the plants into a bowl of water – if you have chickens and the pests are not toxic to them, feed the pests to them, otherwise have soapy water in the bowl instead of freshwater. This will kill the pests. If required you may use organic pesticides, Click Here to find out more about how to make your own organic pesticides and more.
Leave Beneficial Insects Alone!
- These include bees, butterflies, praying mantis, ladybugs, black garden beetles, and assassin beetles. They will help keep harmful pests under control and even pollinate your plants.
- This can help reduce pathogens emerging, as well as aerate the soil and make plants root better.
What Not To Do In An Organic Garden
- Don’t let vegetables over ripen in the ground. If left too long before harvesting, they will rot and attract pests. Any spoiled vegetables need to be removed promptly.
- Don’t try to grow horizontally alone. Many types of vegetable plants prefer to grow vertically, for example, peas and tomatoes. They will require a trellis for support to achieve this.
- Don’t use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. For an organic garden, this speaks for itself!
- Don’t use fast-acting or strong fertilizers. These can acidify the soil (especially salt-based products) and cause plants to grow too quickly for optimal plant health.
- Don’t water with chemically-loaded water. Chemicals in water like chlorine will kill bacteria and other crucial microorganisms. If your supply is strongly chemical, collect rainwater for watering.
- Don’t compost diseased plants. Fungal pathogens are persistent and these can easily be transmitted by compost. If you have plants that may even possibly be diseased, don’t add them to your compost. Also, don’t compost weeds.
Follow these beginner organic gardening tips to get started with your vegetable garden. With a little commitment and some tender loving care, you’ll be enjoying your own harvest of fresh, delicious, nutritious veggies in no time!