At first it may seem overwhelming. Huh, no easy-to-grab chemical fertilizers to spray on your plants? What, no “one-bottle-kills-all” chemical pesticide to wipe out that army of bugs feasting away on your growing vegetables? Maybe this is just too difficult to consider.
Absolutely not! Organic gardening is actually simple because its principles are based on the actions of nature. With just a little advanced planning and a few tips to keep in mind, it’s easy and fun for a beginner to undertake.
First, you’ll need to plan the size of your organic garden. A common beginner’s mistake is to have eyes too big for your stomach. Unless you’re planning to sell excess produce at a farmer’s market, an ideal starter organic garden for beginners is something in the range of 10 feet by 15 feet. It gives you these advantages:
- It’s easier to have access to what you’ll plant
- You’ll be able to easily spot weeds or pests and keep them in check
- You’ll be able to pay close attention to the soil – and successful organic gardening starts with healthy soil conditions
Select an Appropriate Location
With the size of your organic garden decided, you’ll next want to survey your yard for optimal placement. Most plants require at least eight hours of full sun. Putting your garden under or near tree cover may not be a good idea. Although symmetry isn’t necessary, many beginning gardeners find that planting their vegetables in rows facing north and south helps them take advantage of available sunlight.
Wind and rain will play a part in the success of your garden, as well. Too much wind can dry out your soil too quickly, stressing your plants. Vegetables require an abundant source of water – so you’ll want to make sure you have access to that…and you place the garden where it can soak up the most of any available rain.
Pick Your Plants!
Most vegetables are easy to grow – even organically. Consider starting out with the “Fantastic Five” collection of vegetables:
One of the basic tenets of organic gardening is the use of companion planting. Plants can have a symbiotic relationship, where they either take or contribute to others – which helps you keep your soil healthy and balanced. Carrots, for example are a wise choice to plant next to your tomatoes. Beans and peas will return nitrogen to the soil, something that broccoli and kale need in abundance.
Keeping Things Going
Your vegetables are going to need nitrogen, hydrogen and ammonia to grow. This is going to come from your garden soil, which will require that you amend it with either compost or an organic fertilizer. One of the benefits of purchasing organic fertilizer is that the package or container will indicate how much nitrogen, phosphorous and potash it has – and this will make it easier for you to determine which fertilizer will be best to correct any imbalances in your soil.
Develop the habit of checking your garden daily for emerging weeds. If you catch them as they’re sprouting, they’re easy to pull up and prevent from spreading from seeding. You might be surprised by how quickly they can take hold in a garden.
Your carefully maintained organic soil will provide a strong foundation for healthy plant growth. As such, your organic vegetable garden should have less of a problem with bests because healthy plants are far more likely to be able to fight off pests with minimal help. Nevertheless, be vigilant for signs of insect damage or pest infestation. Act quickly if you detect any.
If you’ve put this much effort into starting an organic garden, you’ve done most of the work already – and your vegetable garden will reward you handsomely. The one thing that will greatly diminish this is simple neglect.
Missing a day of spending a few minutes in the garden most likely won’t amount to much, but if you don’t visit your vegetables for a week or so…expect to see that weeds and pests have thrived on your neglect. Besides, one of the most enjoyable aspects of organic gardening is checking daily and being surprised by your vegetable plants’ growth and development. Do it daily!