Focus. It’s a word you may not associate with organic gardening, but adding it to your efforts can help you succeed in growing healthy fruit and vegetables you’ll be proud to serve to family and friends.
Here are 10 focus-based tips:
1. Focus on Locality
Plants that will thrive in your organic garden will most likely be ones that are native or at least adapted to grow well for your area, climate and soil type. They’ll be stronger and easier to maintain. Sure, you might want to experiment with an exotic plant or two – but make the main focus of your selections be plants that are predisposed to do well in your own back yard.
2. Focus on Water Control
Use a rain gauge to keep track of how much water nature is already giving your garden. A rain gauge can help you prevent overwatering. And when you do water your garden, late evening or early morning applications will prevent evaporation and allow the water to penetrate the soil.
3. Focus on Physical Pest Control
You may have a difficult time with this if you don’t like touching bugs – but if you see pests on your plants and you know they are not beneficial ones, first try to physically dispatch them. If you can’t bring yourself to remove them that way, your next best option is to use physical barriers such as sticky traps. Because organic pesticides – even homemade ones – can have a negative impact on other nearby plants and beneficial insects, let this be your last option.
4. Focus on Physical Weed Control
Again, there is minimal impact to your garden if you are a diligent weed-puller. Homemade organic weed killers are very easy to make yourself; however, you may unintentionally do more harm than good because these applications may also kill beneficial insects. Get out there and weed. It’s good exercise! And use mulch to help you prevent weeds from starting in the first place.
5. Focus on Inviting Help for Garden Plant Defense
You don’t have to kiss one to believe it: Toads are true princes and you want to make them welcome in your organic garden. They will help you control some of the most destructive pests that you really wish hadn’t found their way into your yard. Offer them places in the garden where they’ll be safe from their own predators, such as broken clay flowerpots turned upside-down.
6. Focus on Companion Planting
This is the “Yin and Yang” of organic gardening. With a little bit of research – or a request for advice from your neighborhood garden center – pair up plants that complement each other. A heavy feeder of soil nutrients can be placed next to one that is known for its ability to return those nutrients. A vegetable plant known to attract certain pests can be coupled with an herb or flower that repels the pest.
7. Focus on Helping Plants Be Productive
Many fruit and vegetable plants will produce more if you help them concentrate on the effort. For example, to ensure that your tomato plants produce big, healthy fruit, prune away the non-flowering branches. They decrease a plant’s ability to direct nutrients for developing fruit after they flower.
8. Focus on the Health of the Soil
The length of your growing season depends on where you live. More nutrients and organic matter are needed for longer growing seasons. You may need to add more compost to help plants still producing later in the season.
9. Focus on Regular Attention to the Garden
We’re all pressed for time, but even just a few minutes daily spent on weeding while you’re waiting for the coffee to be ready in the morning or while dinner’s cooking means that you’re not presented with an overwhelming chore on the weekend.
10. Focus on Future Efforts
Variety is the spice of life, they say – and it is the life of your organic garden. Pests and plant disease are easier to deal with when you rotate your crops yearly. Yes, you’ll want to keep some staples. But plan on growing different fruits or vegetables next year, and you’ll also help to correct soil nutrient excesses or deficiencies.