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5 Tips on Growing an Organic Garden
by Guest on Apr 19, 2017
Once seen as something attempted only by health fanatics and bohemian types, organic gardening has taken the world by storm and is one of the latest trends amongst green-fingered folk in this modern age. The more we realize the unwanted effects of chemical herbicides and pesticides, the more we want to protect ourselves from these artificial fertilizers and genetically modified crops.
By growing organically, you’re taking control. Your edible gardens are full-to-bursting with nutritious foods to you serve, completely free of the bad stuff. It’s a sign of respect to both your fellow humans and mother nature.
Contrary to widespread belief, organic gardens aren’t unfeasible and expensive. Let’s face it. Our grandparents gardened organically, and so did our great-grandparents. It was the way food was grown many moons ago before chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers came along. True, it may cost a bit more as you rid your lawns and gardens from their harmful chemical addictions. But ultimately, as you improve your soil quality, spread compost you’ve made yourself and develop hands-on, sustainable gardening habits, your costs will drop.
What Does Organic Gardening Mean?
Organic gardening means you won’t be using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. In fact, organic gardening goes beyond merely replacing manmade chemicals with those derives from natural sources. It is about witnessing nature’s processes, and mimicking them in your garden as best you can. The real secret is to understand the structure of your soil and to give it what it needs. If ever there was a role in organic gardening, it's: feeding the soil, not the plant.
1.) Feed the Soil
To get the best results with your new organic garden, you'll want to make sure the soil is suitably conditioned. You have to eat, and so do plants, so make sure your veggies get lots of fresh nutrients. Good healthy soil helps build up sturdy, fruitful plants. Not only do chemical soil treatments leak into your food, but they can also damage the good bacteria, worms and other bugs in the soil. You can test the quality of your soil using a home testing kit or by sending a sample to your local agricultural extension office. For a fair price, you’ll receive a breakdown of pH and nutrient levels, in addition to treatment recommendations. Generally, it's best to test in the autumn, and apply any organic nutrients before winter.
2.) Protect Plants without Toxic Pesticides
One of the most common problems in gardens is that plants being attacked by pests. First, you should check to see if the plants are getting enough light, nutrients and moisture. Instead of reaching for the pesticides, foster natural predators in your garden instead – such as toads, frogs, birds and even bats. Often, the best way to fight fire, is with fire. Garden centres will most likely sell a range of helpful insects and creepy crawlies that are recognised to be the sworn foe of garden pests like flies, aphids, mealy bugs, and brown garden snails. Just let these good bugs loose into your garden, and they’ll attack the bad bugs on your behalf. Alternatively, you can use sticky traps, or organic sprays that combine the repellent effects of garlic, onion and hot pepper. Failing that, you could even raise chickens in your garden – they love eating insects for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Recycle drink cups to cultivate tomatoes from seed. As soon as they’re ready to move, simply get rid of the bottom inch or so of each cup and plant directly in the ground. This prevents worms from making a meal of transplants.
4.) Edible Gardens
Edible gardens are becoming increasingly popular, not just in private homes, but also in schools and other communal spaces. Design is important when it comes to creating edible gardens. There are loads of garden specialists who will examine your existing garden space, and advise what could be achieved. If you have poor soil, then you might want to consider installing raised flower beds, which also mean you can grow more in a small space. A lot of shade can make it difficult to grow certain plants, but not impossible, so grow edible plants that don’t need much sunlight, such as root vegetables and leafy greens.
5.) Make Your Own Compost
Create environmental gardens that work in harmony with the natural world. If you’re looking to go organic and cut down on chemicals, then making your own compost making facilities means you can feed your plants and recycle waste. Compost nourishes plants, helps save water, kills weeds, and keeps food and garden waste out of landfills (where it gives off methane), instead of turning rubbish into gold dust! Lay compost around plants, blend with potting soil, use to strengthen struggling plants and much more.
- Make sure you have a space in the garden that’s at least three feet square
- Compost can be in a pile or contained within a homemade pen or bin
- Lay alternating layers of carbon (or brown) matter, such as leaves and gardening trimmings, in addition to nitrogen (or green) materials, like manure and kitchen leftovers, making sure there’s a layer of soil in between
- Complete the pile with 10 – 15cm of soil
- To nurture microbe action, you need to turn the pile as soon as new layers are put in, as well as water to keep moist
- Good compost can be achieved in just two months (if the weather is cold, it’ll take slightly longer)
- A well looked after compost pile shouldn’t smell. In the case that it does, add more dry carbon material like straw, sawdust or leaves and turn more often.
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