10 Organic Gardening Tips

Are you interested in creating your own organic vegetable garden? Here are some green gardening tips that will lead you in the right direction:

10 Organic Gardening Tips

1. Test your soil:

If you are looking to have a successful outcome with an organic vegetable garden, you should first test your soil with a do-it-yourself home testing kit before you plant anything. These testing kits can be found at local garden centers and on the Internet at garden speciality stores. The kits use a number scale, 0 to 14, that helps you determine the acidity or alkalinity (also known as pH) levels of your soil. For most vegetables, an ideal number is about 6.5. If the results are too acidic (towards the low end of the scale) or too alkaline (towards the high end of the scale), your plants will not be able reap the benefits of the soil’s nutrients. Once you know the results of your soil, you will be able to adjust the soil accordingly by balancing these levels with the nutrients it is lacking.

2. Make plans ahead of time and decide where and how you will grow your garden:

Before you begin digging up your lawn, take a look at your property and decide where you would like to plant a garden. Location is very important, as you will want to pay attention to the position of the sun throughout the day (your plants will need healthy doses of direct sunlight each day), the rockiness of the ground, the drainage quality of the soil, and the location’s relation to your main water source.

If you have high quality soil in your yard and you have determined a location, you will want to take advantage of the benefits found in it. Healthy soils have upwards of 650 million microorganisms per one gram of soil. These organisms already present, such as earthworms and other forms of soil life are essential to the life of the soil and will help your garden prosper by providing your plants with valuable nutrients and minerals.

What to do if your soil is not healthy or if you do not have space for a garden at home:

  • Build a raised bed
  • By making a raised bed, you will have control over the garden’s soil quality. When building your bed, use untreated wood, stones, or brick as a side border and be sure to make the border at least 16 inches high as the depth is important. The plants’ roots will need room to stretch and grow.

  • Consider container gardening
  • If you are a city dweller, you do not have to miss out on the benefits of growing your own produce. Plant in containers that are large enough to accommodate root growth. Be sure they also have drainage holes. If you are planting organic herbs, pots that are at least 6 inches across are ideal. Another helpful hint is to use plastic pots instead of terra cotta pots. Plastic may not be as aesthetically pleasing, but they will hold moisture longer and will not dry out as quickly as terra cotta pots.

  • Join a local community garden
  • Another option is to join a community garden in your area. This is a great way to reap the benefits of growing your own organic food if you do not have land at home. Community gardens are vacant lots or fields that have been turned into mini-farms so that members of the community can plant small gardens of their own. To find out if there are community gardens near you, contact your local parks and recreation department, visit the website http://www.communitygarden.org, or take a stroll in your neighborhood and see if any gardens exist. If you stumble across one, step inside and ask a member what you need to do to join.

3. Select authentic, high quality organic vegetable seeds to use in your garden:

Organic seeds can be found at local nurseries, garden stores, home centers, online seed stores, seed catalogs, and farm supply stores. Always make sure the seed company is “certified organic” and be sure to stay away from any seeds that are “genetically engineered.” To save money, start growing the seeds indoors and transplant outdoors when ready.

4. Make your own compost:

Compost, also known as “gardeners gold,” is a vital element in organic gardening that improves the soil structure of your garden. Compost provides a great source of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and micro/macronutrients essential for plant growth. It also aids in stabilizing soil moisture and pH which helps keep the soil cooler during the summer months.

Other benefits of organic compost:

  • Great source of food for wildlife because it attracts insects and fungi that eat decaying matter. These small animals support larger animals like songbirds
  • Suppresses plant disease
  • Assists in controlling soil erosion
  • Acts as a mild herbicide
  • Reduces need to apply commercial fertilizers
  • Reduces amount of waste sent to landfills
  • Reduces gas emissions that would result from transporting kitchen waste to a landfill

How to compost:

  • Build or buy a compost bin. These can be found at home centers, garden centers, and online.
  • Place compost material in repeated layers. To give your compost the best result, alternate layers of green matter with brown matter. An example would be alternating kitchen scraps with straw/stalks or dead leaves with grass clippings.
  • Cover compost heap for optimal results. This will avoid moisture loss and keep in heat.
  • Keep the pile moist as a wrung-out sponge.
  • Aerate and turn compost pile over frequently.
  • When ready, pile will look like fresh fine soil.

Some ideas for good compostables:

  • Kitchen waste
  • Aquarium water, plants, and algae
  • Sawdust
  • Tea leaves/coffee grounds
  • Pet rabbit or hamster droppings
  • Eggshells
  • Old spices
  • Lawn clippings (thin layer)

Make leafmould:

Leafmould is a dark brown, rich and crumbly material that is created from naturally decomposed Autumn leaves that have fallen onto the ground. It is an excellent soil conditioner and mulch, a great earthworm meal, and is easy to make.

To make leafmould:

  • Collect fallen leaves (avoid evergreen leaves) and place in a container to rot Leafmould matures best in high moisture, so the best time to collect leaves is just after rain.
  • Wait 9 months to a year for the leafmould to mature.

5. Use water wisely:

Water conservation, harvesting, and recycling are great methods for organic gardening.

  • Recycle/harvest rain water
  • Not only is rainwater is a great way to hydrate your plants, but it is also an excellent way to lower your monthly water bills, reduce storm-water runoff, and prevent flooding and erosion. It is generally clean, free of containments and byproducts such as minerals, fluoride and chlorine and has a low pH which plants and soils like. Rainwater can be collected and stored using gutters, downspouts, rain barrels and/or cisterns and can be used whenever needed, even later in the season during dry weather.

  • Use a soaker hose
  • A soaker hose is a great and easy way to save time and money in your garden. Water seeps out of soaker hoses and delivers water directly to your plants’ roots while keeping the leaves dry, which helps prevent disease. Hand watering is time consuming and tedious, sprinklers can be wasteful due to evaporation and runoff, and drip irrigation is expensive.

  • Avoid grey water
  • When recycling water, avoid use of grey water (household waste water that comes from sources such as sinks, washer machines, and showers) on any plants used for consumption. Grey water may contain phosphates, nitrogen, and pathogens that can be harmful to your health.

Watering tips:

  • Water your garden when the air and soil are cool, typically in the early morning or evening hours. During these times, less water will be lost due to evaporation.
  • Water deeply but less often. Direct the water at the root systems at the base of the plant. This will encourage plants to grow deeper roots, causing them to need less watering. Shallow watering causes the roots to grow close to the surface, making them more vulnerable to drought.
  • Remember that plants and soil in containers will dry out much faster than in the ground and require frequent watering.
  • Avoid watering leaves. Excess water film on a plant makes it more susceptible to disease.
  • Shallow rooted vegetables such as beans and greens need to be watered more often with lighter applications than deep rooted plants like corn and tomatoes. These vegetables require more water but less often.
  • Use a milk jug. For a clever trick, take a 1 gallon milk jug and poke very small holes into the bottom. Bury most of the jug next to your plants when you plant your garden. If you leave it uncapped, you can place your water hose nozzle into the opening to fill. With this method, the water slowly drips into the ground and encourages deep plant roots. This self-irrigation system is great for whenever you need to travel and leave the garden unattended.

7. Weed Control:

Weeds can be a serious threat to gardens because they remove valuable moisture, nutrients, sunlight and growing space needed by crops.

Some ways to control weeds:

  • Select high quality vegetable seeds or transplants By planting high quality seeds, the chances of them containing weed seeds or seedlings is very low.
  • Rotate your vegetable crops As crops differ in their ability to compete with weeds, rotating crops between hardy competitors and weaker plants can reduce weeds.
  • Use ground cover The use of ground cover and organic mulches such as hay, straw, glass clippings, and manure in your garden is one of the most effective ways to control weeds. Spread the ground cover 2-3 inches thick as this will block sunlight and prevent weed germination and growth.
  • Transplant seeds Transplanting seeds instead of sowing them gives plants a healthy head start in defense against weeds.

Methods of removing weeds:

  • By hand This method is most effective after a recent rain because the soil is loosened.
  • Thermal A short blast of heat directly onto the weed causes it to wilt and die. This is most effective on driveways and paths and is not always ideal for gardens.
  • Hoeing This is effective for larger patches of newly cleared ground.

7. Make sure you have earthworms

Earthworms are essential to a successful garden. Vermicompost, the combination of organic matter and earthworms’ castings is a high-octane form of compost that provides the soil with an immediate all-purpose fertilizer loaded with nutrients and nitrogen. By tunneling through the earth, earthworms aerate the soil which improves the soil’s access to air and drainage so that water reaches the deep roots of plants more easily. They also encourage beneficial soil bacteria while discouraging disease and predators such as crop destroying insects.

Don’t have earthworms in your soil? Here is how to get them:

  • Discontinue use of any toxins in your garden.
  • Spread 2-3 inch layers of organic matter on top of the soil each year – this will attract earthworms
  • Use leafmould – this is a great earthworm meal.
  • Order earthworm eggs online. Once you receive them, scatter them onto the ground and in about 3 months they will be adults and ready to reproduce.

8. Keep a gardening journal

By keeping track of your garden’s progress, you will be more prepared next year to tackle issues that came up this year. You will also have a place where you can jot down experiments, experiences: the good and the bad.

9. Protect against predators and pests:

Make your garden friendly to the native wildlife in your region. This will attract and encourage natural wildlife pest controllers to your garden. Ladybugs, birds, frogs, toads, and bats all help to keep pests such as aphids, insects, and snails in check.

Other beneficial garden predators and the pests they feed on:

  • Centipedes: feed on slugs and eggs
  • Preying mantis: feed on all types of insects
  • Spiders: feed on insects and arthropods
  • Lizards: feed on insects/pests
  • Frog/toads: feed on all types
  • Ladybugs: feed on aphids

To protect against pests:

  • Plant nectar producing plants Tiny flowers on plants such as sweet alyssum will attract beneficial insects, such as predatory wasps. The alyssum’s aroma will also scent your garden all summer. Herbs like parsley, dill, and fennel will attract ladybugs which will also eat intruding insects.
  • Choose native plant species over imported varieties whenever possible Native species have better “immune systems” and will be able to fight against insects in your area better than an exotic plant will.
  • Try companion planting Companion planting is growing two or more different types of species of plant together for the benefit of one or both. For example, by pairing a flower with a vegetable plant, many adult insects will visit flowers for pollen and nectar and in return are effective natural controllers of unwanted pests on the vegetable crops.

How does companion planting work?

  • Companions help each other grow: Tall plants provide shade for shorter plants sensitive to sun.
  • Companions use garden space efficiently: Vining plants cover the ground, upright plants grow up. Two plants in one patch.
  • Companions prevent pest problems: Plants like onions repel some pests. Other plants can lure pests away from more desirable plants.
  • Companions attract beneficial insects: Every successful garden needs plants that attract the predators of pests.

Examples of good companion plants:

  • Carrots and onions: Pests attracted to carrots’ sweet smell can be confused by the pungent smell of onions.
  • Corn and beans: The beans attract beneficial insects that prey on corn pests such as leafhoppers and leaf beetles. In addition, the bean vines will climb up the corn stalks.
  • Cucumbers and nasturtiums: Nasturtiums are said to repel cucumber beetles and can create a habitat for insects such as spiders and ground beetles which help defend the garden from destructive pests.
  • Radishes and spinach: Radishes attract leafminers away from the spinach. The leafminers will damage the radish leaves, but since radishes grown underground, no damage is done to the radishes.
  • Cabbage and dill: Cabbage can help support the floppy dill plants, while the dill attracts the tiny beneficial wasps that control cabbageworms and other cabbage pests.
  • Tomatoes and cabbage: Tomatoes are repel diamondback moth larvae (caterpillars that chew large holes in cabbage leaves)
  • Cauliflower and dwarf zinnias: The nectar from the dwarf zinnias lures ladybugs that help protect cauliflower plants.
  • Collards and catnip: Planting catnip alongside collards can reduce flea-beetle damage on the collards.

Other ways to deter pests from your organic garden:

  • Create barriers and deterrents: Try hanging shiny silver objects in your garden. The reflection produced from the sun can confuse insects such as aphids which orient their flight patterns by sunlight.
  • Rotate your crops each year This will aid in keeping pest and disease problems at bay as well as correct nutritional deficiencies.

10. Last few tips on garden and soil care:

  • Avoid compacting soil by walking on it excessively This restricts air movement and makes it hard for roots to penetrate.
  • Do not over dig This will destroy vital soil structure.
  • Cover Keeping plants covered with things like mulch helps protect soil structure.
  • Avoid overfeeding and over or under watering Let the plants performance guide you.

I hope you will be able to share the same satisfaction and gratification I experience when I build, create, and tend to my own vegetable garden. Have patience, be willing to get dirty, and be ready to smile and reap the bountiful benefits of an organically grown vegetable and herb garden.

Enjoy!

In good health

Fresh and Lively Gardening Tips For Beginners

Making your property look more lush and beautiful by gardening is something that has been done through the ages. Novice gardeners may take one look at a beautiful garden that was established years ago and think they want their yard to look exactly like that. Gardening takes a great deal of work and if the beginner is willing to put in the time and effort, their garden will be the envy of everyone in the neighborhood, in time. With these gardening tips for beginners you should have no problem getting up and started.

The first and most important tip for the beginning gardener is start small. This cannot be emphasized enough. Your garden is never going to look like a garden that was started ten or twenty years ago and if you were to ask the owner of the garden they will tell you it took that long to get it to look that way. If you don’t start small you run the risk of being discouraged once you find out all you have to do to have that beautiful and lush garden. If you take it step by step and year by year, it is not half as scary. If you are flower gardening just plant close to the house and maybe down the walkway and driveway. If you are trying to make a vegetable garden make it at the most 100 square feet, no more than that.

The next important tip is to decide what kind of garden you are able to have in the space that is available. If you have a majority of shade you will have to plant plants that like to be in the shade. Do not expect a flower that needs full sun all day to grow in a yard that is shady, it just doesn’t work. You may have just one area in your yard that does get sun daily. Most sun loving plants need 6 to 8 hours of sun per day, so watch that spot during the day and see how many hours the sun hits it. Vegetable gardens do need at least 6 hours of sun per day.

The spot in which you place your garden must be well drained. If you plant where water collects every time it rains your garden will rot and die. Pick a spot where you rarely see water gather when you have a storm. Too much water will rot the roots of your plants and they will not survive. This applies to flowers and vegetables.

Make sure to check the acidity of the soil. You can get a soil testing kit at any nursery or discount store and follow the directions. If there is too much acid in the soil or the soil is too alkaline you will need to add additives to the soil Just take your soil test to a nursery and ask them what you need. They will be happy to tell you what you need and how to add it to your soil before planting.

Don’t start with seeds the first time you plant. This is a big mistake. Most flowers and vegetables take forever to grow from seed and if you don’t put it in the right time the growing season will be over before you see flowers or vegetables. Most seeds need to be started indoors at the end of the winter in order to be ready to plant in the late spring. Do yourself a favor and purchase plants to put in your garden, both flowers and vegetables. Do a search online for each of the items you plan on planting so you can learn how deep to plant and other tips about planting that specific plant.

Your garden will have to be weeded, watered and you will have to feed the plants in it. Nurturing a garden is somewhat like taking care of a child although not quite as intense. You have to be vigilant against disease and bugs and other wildlife that will attach it. Daily walks in the garden to inspect any damage are necessary. Weeding has to be done on a regular basis and if you let that go your garden can become shabby and the flowers and vegetables can be choked out and die. Periodic feeding is also necessary.

Become friends with the people at the nursery during your first few years of gardening. They will be a valuable resource as is information online. Be sure to check information to see if it is for your area before you take any online information. Join a garden club as they will probably be one of the best resources you can find locally. The best tip that can be given to a beginning gardener is to have fun. You will have successes and failures. Learn from both and always ask for help.

Quick and Easy All-Natural Gardening Tips

There is now a more convenient way for vegetarians and people with green thumbs to enjoy their own fresh fruits and veggies! You can enjoy a fresh and free salad in your dining table simply by starting your own natural garden. Natural Gardening is a gardening style featuring plants which are native to the region, where the plants can develop their natural shape without shearing, staking or pruning and minimizing usage of fertilizers or pesticides.

If you plan to start and work on your garden, here are a few quick and easy all-natural gardening tips to help you get started.

Get a head start in your natural garden! Start by planting seeds in an egg carton, planting them with a small amount of soil without letting it spill over the sides. Make sure not to overwater your plants, just keep the soil moist. Once the plants have frost, you can take the seedlings out of the egg carton and plant them on the ground. If you want to speed up the germination process, you can lay a piece of plastic wrap over the seedlings to keep them warm and moist. Leave it as it is until the plants poke their heads through the soil.

Save yourself, nourish your plants. It’s important that when you garden, you make sure you are protected as well. Here are tips to help you become an all-natural gardener.

Use latex gloves instead of cloth. It’s much easier to clean and it doesn’t stiffen up. You can simply rinse them in water and let them dry.

If you don’t like wearing gloves, before you get started, you should scrap your fingernails over a bar of soap to prevent dirt from penetrating your nails. It will also protect your nails from breaking.

If the sun is blazing hot and the soil feels warm to your knees, it’s best you get a knee pad. Need a kneeling pad? You can take a 2 or 3-inch piece of foam and wrap it in plastic or put it in a large re-sealable bag and you’re all ready to go.

Feed your plants, satisfy your needs. It’s important that when you garden, you make sure you provide the correct nourishment your plants need. Here are tips to help you give your plants all-natural nourishment.

Crushed sells make a wonderful fertilizer. They work well with soil and aerate it too. It will be a terrific fertilizer for your natural garden.

To provide much-needed acid to the soul, bury some used coffee grounds in your garden. It has high alkaline content and in no time at all, you’ll notice your green plants to its greener best!

To keep the soil moist and hold weeds at bay, place dampened newspaper on the ground around your plants. Wet the newspaper well and sprinkle it lightly will soil. This will give it weight and thus, hold the water down. Papers are biodegradable, no need to worry about the garbage; they will eventually dissolve over time.

Attack the pests, protect your plants. It’s important that when you garden, you protect your plants from pests. Using pesticides seem like a good idea, but then, it can be harmful to your plants at some extent. Here are a few tips for you to have an all-natural pest control.

Keeps pests off your flowers by spraying them a combination of 1 quart water over ½ teaspoon of liquid soap. Apply the solution every two weeks and rest assured you’ll be keeping the pests away!

To deter bugs, you should plant garlic, parsley or basil among your flowers. Plant them edging around the garden and rest assured your plants will be blooming and bug-free.

Chase away pests that feed on your tender plants by mixing 1 tablespoon of hot mustard or red pepper with 1 quart of water. Spray directly on foliage. One hot taste and the pests will be gone!

It’s really easy to grow your own natural garden. Just use these quick and easy all-natural gardening tips and the ones you’ll find at http://www.organicgrow.biz and your garden will be an all-natural success!