Gardening with Kids

Gardening with Kids

Gardening with children can be so fulfilling, for you and for them.  Whether you are a teacher, a friend or a parent, you can enjoy some real quality time with the children that you care for. There are a few ways to make it fun for them.  Remember to have fun, encourage silliness and be open to the children’s ideas.  Kids really enjoy getting outside with adults and creating something.  Try to include things in the garden that the kids will really enjoy.  Have them set up hummingbird feeders, spinning wind catchers, wind chimes, and make vegetable markers or signs.  The more colorful and personal they make it, the more they will love it. Using hummingbird feeders, spinners and chimes will help give the kids some instant gratification.  It’s a lot more interesting than simply putting a seed in the dirt and walking away!  Set up a craft table in advance and let the kids decorate and design whatever they can think of to stick in the garden.  They can use construction paper, index cards, glue, glitter, beads and even seeds to decorate signs.  Use some laminating paper or dip in melted paraffin wax to waterproof signs. Sprouting seeds indoors is fun for kids and lets them see how roots grow towards the water and how leaves open up towards the sun.  Simply placing seeds on a wet paper towel and putting them into a sandwich bag will make them sprout rather quickly.  Then they can be placed in the dirt and have a better chance of survival than if you had only placed the seeds in the soil. Kids love the idea of introducing beneficial insects, butterflies, frogs and lizards into the garden.  Do a little research about your area and find out which insects are beneficial.  Your local nursery can usually provide you with useful information on which insects to introduce and where to get them.  Using living creatures to protect the vegetables from invaders is not only fun, but beneficial.  Teaching children how to garden organically will not only help them to ingest and absorb less chemicals now, but as they grow and plant their own gardens in the future.  Organic gardening is more fun, safer and better for their health. The fun isn’t over when the garden is planted.  Kids love to catch bugs and worms and then introduce them into the garden.  They can learn about recycling and composting while adding beneficial compost to their garden soil.  It will get richer by the year if you avoid chemical fertilizers.  Let them water with interesting containers or spray nozzles for the water hose.  Get an automatic <a rel=”nofollow” onclick=”javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/outgoing/article_exit_link']);” href=”http://www.roboreel.com”title=”Hose Reel”>hose reel</a> and let them do it all by themselves.  One with forward assist and automatic hose retrieval makes it easy for even very young children to feel important and participate in the family fun.  Happy gardening!

Gardening with children can be so fulfilling, for you and for them.  Whether you are a teacher, a friend or a parent, you can enjoy some real quality time with the children that you care for.

There are a few ways to make it fun for them.  Remember to have fun, encourage silliness and be open to the children’s ideas.  Kids really enjoy getting outside with adults and creating something.  Try to include things in the garden that the kids will really enjoy.  Have them set up hummingbird feeders, spinning wind catchers, wind chimes, and make vegetable markers or signs.  The more colorful and personal they make it, the more they will love it.

Using hummingbird feeders, spinners and chimes will help give the kids some instant gratification.  It’s a lot more interesting than simply putting a seed in the dirt and walking away!  Set up a craft table in advance and let the kids decorate and design whatever they can think of to stick in the garden.  They can use construction paper, index cards, glue, glitter, beads and even seeds to decorate signs.  Use some laminating paper or dip in melted paraffin wax to waterproof signs.

Sprouting seeds indoors is fun for kids and lets them see how roots grow towards the water and how leaves open up towards the sun.  Simply placing seeds on a wet paper towel and putting them into a sandwich bag will make them sprout rather quickly.  Then they can be placed in the dirt and have a better chance of survival than if you had only placed the seeds in the soil.

Kids love the idea of introducing beneficial insects, butterflies, frogs and lizards into the garden.  Do a little research about your area and find out which insects are beneficial.  Your local nursery can usually provide you with useful information on which insects to introduce and where to get them.  Using living creatures to protect the vegetables from invaders is not only fun, but beneficial.  Teaching children how to garden organically will not only help them to ingest and absorb less chemicals now, but as they grow and plant their own gardens in the future.  Organic gardening is more fun, safer and better for their health.

The fun isn’t over when the garden is planted.  Kids love to catch bugs and worms and then introduce them into the garden.  They can learn about recycling and composting while adding beneficial compost to their garden soil.  It will get richer by the year if you avoid chemical fertilizers.  Let them water with interesting containers or spray nozzles for the water hose.  Get an automatic hose reel and let them do it all by themselves.  One with forward assist and automatic hose retrieval makes it easy for even very young children to feel important and participate in the family fun.  Happy gardening!

About the Author: Stacy Pessoney is an award winning author and writer of web content for many different web sites. She is well versed in many different areas, including gardening, hose reel, lawn care and landscaping.

Easy Recipe For Making Your Own Organic Insect Killer Soap for Your Garden

Easy Recipe For Making Your Own Organic Insect Killer Soap for Your Garden

Many home plant pest problems can be easily solved by using a little insecticidal soap.  It is easy and inexpensive to mix up your own organic insect killer at home.  You will be saving money on pesticides and won’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals on your food.

This recipe works best on soft-bodied pests like aphids, thrips, white flies and spider mites.  These are among the most common garden pests.  Insecticidal soaps kill insects by entering the pest’s respiratory system and breaking down internal cell membranes.  It is only effective when it is wet, so aim well.  After it is dry it will not harm your beneficial insects.  For heavy insect infestations, it is best to spray your plants again in a few days.

Here’s a really simple recipe for insecticidal soap.

1 tablespoon of soap

2 cups water

Mix thoroughly and add to spray bottle.  Spray directly onto the insects on your plants.

Be sure to check the label on your soap first.  The key to this recipe is to use regular dish soap, not detergent or anything anti-bacterial. You can also use pure liquid castile soap.

You can super-charge your organic insecticidal soap to make it stick to hard-bodied pests like fleas. It also damages the protective waxy coating on insects.  Add either one tablespoon of mineral oil or a vegetable oil to your mixture.  Sunflower or olive oil will work well, any vegetable-based oil will break down faster in your soil.  Oil will help the mixture stay on these pests so the soap has a chance to begin working. But it will also stick to your ladybug beetles so be careful where you are aiming.

Some plants (especially ferns) are sensitive to soaps.  Do not use a soap mixture on ferns. New growth on plants may be too tender for soap, so apply sparingly art first. Plants under stress may have a bad reaction to any insecticide.  Plants that are under stress from drought should be soaked with water the day before you treat them.  You should always test your mixture first on just one leaf on your plant.  If it is fine the next day, your solution should be OK to use.  It is better not to spray your plants in the middle of the day.  Full sun (especially on hairy plants) can turn the water droplets into little magnifying glasses which can burn the leaves.

Many garden pests like to hide underneath the leaves of plants.  For best results aim upwards and get under that foliage.  Aim directly at those bugs.  You may need to spray your organic pesticide again in a few days if you have a heavy infestation of pests.

Making your own insecticidal soap is a great way to save money on your landscaping budget and keep your vegetable garden organic at the same time.  Visit http://www.thegardenpages.com for more organic gardening tips.

Laura Zinkan is a writer in California. She cultivates a gardening site at http://www.theGardenPages.com with plant profiles, growing tips about succulents and native plants. Or visit the new garden blog at http://thegardenpages.blogspot.com for up-to-date seasonal information. 2009 by Laura Zinkan. Article may be reprinted if author credit is given with a website link. All rights reserved.

vegetable gardening and shade.

The Benefits Of Organic Lawn Fertilizer

The Benefits Of Organic Lawn Fertilizer

You’ve probably heard some conflicting views about the advantages and disadvantages of chemical and organic garden fertilizer. Although both types of products can improve the growth of a lawn or garden, solid and liquid organic fertilizer products have been shown to produce greater long-term benefits than chemical fertilizer while posing no risk to humans, animals, or the environment.

Like chemical fertilizer, organic products contain a mixture of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, three powerful nutrients essential to growth. All fertilizers are labeled with an N-P-K ratio showing the relative quantities of each, such as 3-1-5.

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the benefits of organic garden fertilizer:

Organic lawn fertilizer provides a slow release of nitrogen and other nutrients. Organic fertilizer enriches not just your lawn or garden, but also the soil itself. This allows microorganisms in the soil to break down the nutrients over time, so that plants absorb them in small increments.

Alternatively, chemical fertilizer provides a “quick fix” for growth, as plants must absorb all of the nutrients at once. This leaves your garden or lawn vulnerable to overfeeding, which is not a risk for gardeners using organic liquid fertilizer. Chemical fertilizer is also more easily washed away due to excessive watering, while organic fertilizer will remain in the soil regardless of its water content.

Organic lawn fertilizer improves soil health in the long term. Chemical fertilizer is only designed to foster plant growth, not improve soil health. In fact, many of the elements in chemical fertilizer are actually harmful to the soil; over time, chemical fertilizer can contribute to soil acidity and deplete the microorganisms present.

Since liquid organic fertilizer functions by providing nutrients directly to the soil, it has quite the opposite effect. With time, organic garden fertilizer will improve the moisture retention and aeration of the soil, among other factors. It even can help clay and hardpan soil take on a more workable texture. Additionally, organic fertilizer can be used in conjunction with nitrogen activators to allow the soil to better absorb the nutrients provided. Organic lawn fertilizer is safe for children, pets, and the environment. Studies have linked chemical fertilizers to a variety of health problems, including asthma and certain types of cancer. It can also pollute our drinking water by running into nearby lakes and streams. Since organic liquid fertilizer is made from natural products, it contains no harmful agents and is naturally biodegradable.

Organic lawn fertilizer is cost-efficient. Organic products often get a reputation for being more expensive than their artificial counterparts, but this is not the case for organic liquid fertilizer. This is because organic fertilizer is made from natural byproducts from a variety of industries, including fish emulsion, sewage waste, cottonseed meal, and manure. Plus, the slow release time means fewer applications per season. Whether you’re shopping for lawn or tomato fertilizer, or even fertilizer for roses, organic garden fertilizer will provide impressive results that are also cost-efficient.

BanyanOrganics.com is the leading online organic growers’ superstore. When it comes to buying organic garden fertilizer, organic liquid fertilizer, organic lawn fertilizer, or tomato fertilizer, look no further than BanyanOrganics.com

Grow Your Own Organic Food Now

Grow Your Own Organic Food Now

More and more research is now revealing the health benefits of organic food. For example, children on organic diets have been shown to have significantly lower exposure to nerve poison pesticides. An organic diet provides immediate protection for children against harmful chemicals.

If this isn’t reason enough to start growing your own organic food – what is? When we consider that we can produce enough vegetables to sustain a family right from our own backyard at almost no cost and with very little effort there’s really no excuse for putting it off until tomorrow.

Organic growing guide

There’s no time like the present, so read this organic growing guide and get started NOW!

If you have an existing garden you can easily begin by improving your soil, buying a load of good quality commercial garden soil or starting a no dig garden. But before you do, work out the size of your garden bed.

If you start with a small area, let’s say 2m x 2m (6ft x 6ft approx) you’ll be able to grow enough leafy greens for two people. Adding another bed this size will allow you to grow enough to feed a family.

Before you start, check that you have met these requirements:

Your plants are positioned where they will get at least six hours of sunlight daily
You can get to your plants quickly and easily when it’s time to harvest
Your compost, tools, water supply and fertilizers are easily accessible

Another good option is to make a path along the middle of your bed so that you can reach any small weeds as they appear. A simple tug at the right time will save you a lot of weeding later if you let them take hold.

Square plots can be set up on lawn or if you prefer in a straight line along a fence. If you choose the fence position, make sure you take account of where the shade will fall. Plants deprived of sunlight will not produce the best crops.

If you have only limited space available try gardening in pots instead. There’s one big advantage when gardening in containers – you can move them around according to the weather. If your porch is too hot at certain times of the year, move your pots to where the sun is less punishing. If the harsh winter brings frosts, move your Brassicas to a more congenial spot.

5 steps to better soil

If you have soil, whatever its condition, consider yourself extremely lucky.

‘But it’s never produced anything! My soil’s completely dead.’

No problem. Your soil can be improved very quickly. Here’s how to do it:

Water the ground a day before you start.
Get rid of any weeds.
Cover the area with compost, manure, lawn clippings, and organic fertilizer and then dig this in.
Cover the whole lot with mulch to make sure it stays moist.
After a week or so scrape away the mulch, add more of the compost and manure and then put the mulch cover back.

You should then repeat this process until you have about 30cm (12 inches)of  rich and crumbly soil ready for planting.

If your soil is okay to start with, use the technique above to make it even richer. Begin by removing any weeds, then spread your organic material over the surface. Here’s where you need to do a little hard work – break up any clumps of soil and dig down about a spade depth. You can now plant your seedlings.

Gardening in a trench

If all of the above sounds too hard, or if your site is not suitable, try improving little pockets of soil with the ‘trench composting’ method. You simply need to dig a hole, or a longer trench, fill it with green waste material and let nature turn this small area into a usable piece of ground.

The Bokashi composting system works on just this principle. Bokashi is a product made using a combination of sawdust and bran that has been infused with Effective Micro-organisms (EM). Bokashi buckets can fit easily under the kitchen sink. Add the EM and watch your scraps quickly ferment.

Buying seedlings

Organic seedlings are not generally available from commercial suppliers, so try farmers’ markets, organic farms and local organic growing groups first. Seedlings are usually quite expensive so try growing from seed. This takes longer but is probably the most satisfying way to start your organic garden.

I’m committed to promoting organic gardening and home food production as a way of life. Visit my website to get more information on organic gardening, or get my free mini-course and learn more about simple solutions to growing your own organic food.

Secrets to Weed Control in Your Organic Herb Garden

Secrets to Weed Control in Your Organic Herb Garden

Growing your own organic herb garden probably means you are devoted to herbs that are healthy for you and gardening practices that don’t hurt the environment. But what do you do when the weeds start coming in? Herbicides are definitely against the spirit of organic gardening, but when you see swathes of weeds start growing, you might not know what to do! Taking care of the weeds in your organic garden is a process that takes time and effort, but once you get started, it is easy to keep on going.

One cheap and easy way to make sure that your weeds don’t get out of control is to put newspaper on top of them and then straw on top of the newspaper to make sure that it doesn’t blow away. This means that the weeds underneath will die while your herbs, which were left uncovered, will be just fine. You can also use mulch for this, though you should be careful not to inadvertently help the weeds along.

Just because you cannot use herbicides doesn’t mean that you can’t use anything at all. For instance, when you are fighting a particularly stubborn clump of weeds, hot water can kill them, as can normal white vinegar. Remember to be careful when you are using this method, though, because these are not selective forms of herbicide. You need to be okay with killing off plants that might be nearby. With the vinegar, you are essentially acidifying the area and making it tough for things to grow at all. It’s a bit extreme, but if you have tried everything else, it might be something that you need to do.

When you go out to fertilize your herb garden, make sure that you take your time and that only the herbs get fed. It takes more time, but it can be well worth it to make sure that only your herbs are getting nourished. You may also want to avoid methods of fertilizing your garden that broadcast the substance all around. It can give you more weeds than you know what to do with!

Remember to be proactive. The easiest time to get rid of weeds is when they are very young and easy to pull up. Depending on where you are and what your garden is like, you will find that this means that you are out in your garden every day or every other day. Even if you take all the measures listed above, there is a chance that you are going to be pulling weeds regardless. It’s essentially the price that you pay for organic gardening, but you will find that it becomes a habit before you know it. Even if you let it go for a few days at a time, remember that some wedding is far better than none at all!

Remember that your organic herb garden takes time and that the benefits of your harvest are well worth the work of weeding!

Carl Olsen is a teacher and herb enthusiast. For more great information on organic herb gardening, visit The Herb Garden Guide.

Guide How to Grow Organic Food Indoors

Guide How to Grow Organic Food Indoors

Most of us have houseplants, but have you ever considered growing edibles indoors? Better yet, how about growing delicious, organic produce? Forget the gardener’s woes of winter’s inhospitality. Forget the city-dwellers complaints about the confines of yard-less living. There are no excuses anymore for not having a bountiful garden. And, growing organic food indoors not only provides you with healthy, affordable organics year-round – the plants will also help keep your indoor air clean, which is especially important during stuffy, winter months. Here’s how to get started:

 

1. Pick a place. You can grow a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, and even fruits in containers on windowsills, shelves or tables.

2. Start simple. Ensure immediate success by beginning with surefire winners like herbs, sprouts and lettuce. Take it up a tiny notch by growing a pizza garden (basil, oregano, cherry tomatoes) or a salsa garden (cilantro, onion, tomatoes, peppers). There are specific varieties of vegetables and fruits that fare best in containers.

3. Collect containers. Almost any type of container can be used to grow your plants: terra cotta pots, ceramic pots, wooden window boxes, metal tubs, glass bowls, ice cream buckets – pretty much whatever you have on hand. Choose the appropriate size based on each seed’s recommendations. Some plants will have to start out in peat pots and transplanted, some can go straight into the container. Drainage holes aren’t necessary if you don’t over water, but that’s hard to tell unless you’re an experienced gardener. So, opt for something with holes (or make a few yourself using a drill or hammer and nails) and place a pan underneath to catch excess water.

 

4. Select soil. Many commercial potting soils have synthetic additives. So, to truly grow organic, you need to look for the “OMRI Listed” label. The OMRI—Organic Materials Review Institute—determines which products can be used within the national organic program.

5. Find a fertilizer. Again, to really grow organic, make sure you’re using an OMRI-listed fertilizer. Some plants only need to be fertilized when you sow the seeds, but others like more regular feeding. Read your seed package or talk to your local nursery to learn what’s best for the varieties you’ve selected.

6. Look for light. Some plants need more light than others. Many will fare well in a sunny window and many like the added boost of a grow light. Some species don’t need light at all (like mushrooms!)

7. Prepare for pests. Growing organic food indoors means far fewer potential pest problems, but you should still be ready to battle bugs (without toxic chemicals). For example, whiteflies and mealy bugs can be controlled with a yellow sticky trap or diluted rubbing alcohol (though test your plant to make sure it won’t get burned).

 

Whether you decide to grow leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and endive; herbs like basil, thyme, and parsley; or produce like cherry tomatoes, dwarf beets, and blueberries, indoor organic gardening can save you money and protect your health. Also, it’s fulfilling, fun, and the food is delicious!

Learn how to set up an organic vegetable garden that requires only 8 hours work per year! Discover how to plant an organic vegetable garden you can harvest ever day regardless of where you live HERE.

Organic Pest Control Gardening for Greenhouse Gardeners

Organic Pest Control Gardening for Greenhouse Gardeners

Eating organic produce is a growing trend in today’s eco-conscious and health centric world.  To that end, many families have turned to growing their own food at home so they can ensure a completely organic diet, and greenhouse gardening is one means of growing produce almost year-round.  However, even the strictest organic gardener must have some method of controlling common garden pests.  In this article, we’ll explore some organic pest control methods for greenhouse gardeners.

One of the major benefits of greenhouse gardening, aside from the obvious fact that your gardening activities can be extended into cooler months of the year, is that a greenhouse provides a physical barrier against some pests.  For example, moles, rabbits, and birds will not be an issue when cultivating plants in a greenhouse.  Greenhouses do also provide some added protection against various insects, though it is still possible to have infestations of common garden insects inside a greenhouse, so we’ll focus our organic pest control methods on insects.

One of the easiest ways to repel insects is through companion planting.  Almost every variety of insect has an aversion to some particular plant or another.  For example, marigolds planted among beans or potatoes will repel Colorado potato beetles and Mexican bean beetles.  Chives or garlic planted among lettuce or peas will deter aphids, and nasturtiums planted throughout your vegetables will deter a whole host of pests including cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  This is only a very small example of the various types of plants that can be paired together to repel pests.  For a more complete list, refer to a gardening resource book or website.

When companion planting doesn’t work, it may be time to take your organic pest control to the next level: applications.  There are numerous organic products on the market that can be applied to your plants to deter garden pests.  Simply make a visit to your local nursery or garden center and you’ll be presented with an array of options ranging from predator urine in concentrated form to various fish oils and soaps.  Without spending a lot of money, one inexpensive homemade application is a mixture of water and dish detergent.  Begin with a very weak mixture, approximately 1 tablespoon of dish soap to a gallon of water.  Spray carefully onto a few leaves of one or two plants, and then watch the plants closely over the next day to be sure the foliage doesn’t die back.  If the few sprayed leaves respond well, then you can spray the solution over the entire plant, making sure to spray both the tops and bottoms of all leaves.  If this doesn’t kill the insects, you may need a stronger solution, up to 3 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.  Just be sure to carefully test each stronger solution on a few leaves before spraying all over your plants.

When all else fails, manually picking insects off your plants can be effective, too, if the infestation hasn’t gotten too out of control.  Pick off all adult insects, and be sure to gather any eggs and larvae as well.  If you do this twice daily over a period of a week, you should notice the damage to your plants reduced considerably.

There is no doubt that organic gardening will continue to gain in popularity as the world becomes more aware of environmental and health concerns caused by chemical pesticides and fertilizers.  Growing your own produce at home is easy and inexpensive, and greenhouse gardeners who want to go organic shouldn’t be deterred by concerns about garden pests.  There are many tried and true methods of organic pest control that have worked for farmers for centuries, and they will work for you at home, too.

Home Products ‘N’ More offers free shipping on all home greenhouses and wholesale greenhouse supplies. For more information, visit us at http://www.homeproductsnmore.com/Backyard_Greenhouse_s/123.htm

How To Start Organic Home Gardening

How To Start Organic Home Gardening

The quest for safer, more nutritious produce has turned many on to the idea of organic home gardening. Organic gardening is not a complex task to undertake and it doesn’t take a lot of money to begin. With a few basics and a plot of ground, you can begin your own organic home right in your own backyard. We’ve got the steps to get you started in organic home gardening, so you will be ready to plant your own crops as soon as the next growing season rolls around.

The first step in beginning your own organic home gardening experience is to understand exactly what we mean by organic gardening. An organic garden is one that does not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides or synthetic ingredients of any kind. Instead, elements from nature are used to feed and protect the crops so they can grow as naturally as possible. Organic gardens are good for the environment as well as healthy and nutritious for the people who eat their harvests.

The first step in successful organic home gardening is a healthy soil in which crops of all kinds can thrive. The way to get nutrient-rich soil without relying on chemical fertilizers is through natural compost that comes right from your own garbage pail. These ingredients can be kept in a makeshift compost bin right in your own backyard, until it is ready to be added to your garden soil. Avoid adding ingredients to your compost pile like plants that have previously been treated with chemical pesticides, meat or dairy products or animal waste.

Once it is time to ready your garden soil for planting, begin by adding your organic compost and then spade it into the rest of the soil. You can also perform a soil test on a sampling of your soil to ensure it is appropriately balanced with all the nutrients your garden will need to thrive. You can opt to have your soil tested professionally by taking it into your local extension office or nursery, or you can test it at home using a kit you purchase from your garden center. Preparing the soil is probably the most important step in the entire process, since healthy soil reduces the risk of pests or diseases harming your crops.

Organic home gardening is an excellent way to expand your gardening repertoire. When you begin with your own organic compost and healthy soil, you are much more likely to enjoy healthy, thriving crops. A bountiful harvest will ensure everyone in your family appreciates your organic gardening efforts to the fullest.

If you are interested in finding out more information about Organic Gardening then check out this great site which is full of great articles at Gardeners Supply and start transforming your garden today.

Key Points To Success With Your Organic Vegetable Garden

Key Points To Success With Your Organic Vegetable Garden

 

Many people across the developed world are looking for new and rewarding ways to go green and avoid the pitfalls of modern food cultivation and supply. Organic gardening has become a popular method for ordinary people to grow their own vegetables, using only natural methods of fertilization and pest-control.

 

Food grown in this way is not only more healthy, but also tastes better. Organic vegetables and fruit are more nutritional, contain a higher vitamin content and have no chemical residue. Growing your own food without chemicals is also better for the environment.

 

There’s also the fact to consider, that if you grow your own fruit and vegetables, you know what’s in them.

 

Organic vegetable gardening is no harder than traditional gardening methods once you have the basics in place. I have prepared some key points that will help you to success with your organic vegetable garden.

 

More attention needs to be given to the soil than with a traditional gardening approach. Turn the soil regularly, whilst adding and mixing-in compost. Compost consists largely of leaves, vegetable scraps, dead flowers and grass clippings. Compost also retains moisture, has nutrients, acts as a natural pest-controller and will provide most of the materials necessary for your organic vegetable garden to grow and flourish.

 

I would suggest making your own compost heap at the bottom of the garden, or in some out-of-the-way corner. Add all of your crass cuttings, other garden and kitchen-food waste to the mix. Be careful not to add too much animal or fish remains.

 

Once you have your compost ready, spread it over the top soil. Make sure that the layer is about two inches thick. The compost will supply a large part of the minerals and other nutrients that your plants need to grow.

 

There are many organic fertilizers and other organic garden products on offer. If you are a vegetarian I suggest you check the label, because some of them contain animal products like fish oil, bone and leather.

 

Make sure that the seeds or plants that you buy are organic. These are easily available to buy online if you have trouble purchasing them in your local area.

 

If you are starting your vegetable garden from seeds, these will need to be planted either indoors or in a greenhouse. Plant them in a container with plenty of organic soil. Make sure that they have plenty of light and water, but don’t over-water them as they can die easily. The soil just needs to be moist.

 

When your seedlings have two leafs on them it is time to transfer them to a bigger container. Consider potting your plants in biodegradable pots, as these can be planted straight into the soil.

 

As I have already said, your compost will act as a natural pest-controller. Organic gardening, however, allows for a certain level of insect and pest activity. Consider actively enticing insect predators to your crops, such as ladybugs and birds, by keeping a water source nearby. There are also some household items that you can use, such as garlic and hot peppers, to keep insects away.

 

These key points should guide you to success with your organic vegetable garden. When you harvest your crop, you will know that not only is the taste far superior, but that your vegetables are much more healthy than traditional methods of growing food.

 

Ian Basford is a keen vegetable gardener. Download his FREE ebook “Foolproof Vegetable Garden” from his blog at http://foolproof-vegetable-garden.blogspot.com

Organic Home Gardening – Getting Started with the Basics

Organic Home Gardening – Getting Started with the Basics

Have you ever thought about gardening organically at home, but weren’t sure where to start?

Many gardeners would love to garden without all the chemicals and sprays, but worry that organic home gardening is difficult and time consuming. Not so! It can be a straightforward and easy way to garden. And it’s also cheaper as you no longer have all those chemicals and sprays to buy.

In this article we’ll look at the basics of organic gardening – they keys to getting a good foundation so your plants have the best possible chance of success. We’ll look at how to prepare your soil, and see how easy it actually is to understand and improve your soil from the outset. We’ll also have a quick look at the bugs in your garden, and how you can protect your plants from the bad ones, and encourage the good ones.

Organic gardening may require a little more time and understanding from you as a gardener, however the rewards and satisfaction are huge. Read on to find out the basics you need to know.

The main things to know about organic gardening:

Soil:
Your soil is the lifeblood of your plants, and time spent now (boring as it is!) will really help you later. Firstly, you need to understand what type of soil you have. Most soils fall along a continuum from sandy to clay, and all can be improved by digging in rich organic matter. It also helps to know the acidity of your soil and the easiest way to find out is using a pH testing kit from your local garden center. These are very simply to use and will let you know if your soil is acid, alkaline, or just right. Ideally you want your soil to be just slightly acid – between 6.0 and 7.0 pH is ideal – and there are a number of organic ways we can achieve this. If you need to improve the pH of your soil then your garden center is your best place to start, as they will understand the soil types in your region.

Once you start gardening then feeding your soil twice a year with organic fertilizers and compost will help keep your soil in great condition.

Plants:
If growing from seed then you can find a huge range of organic seeds available these days. It’s also best to try to find plants that are naturally disease resistant – they will often say so on the packet. Heritage seeds can be ideal, and also provide another point of interest in your garden. If you’re growing vegetables, then only plant vegetables that you will eat! This will help to keep you interested in your garden and reduce waste.

Finally, work out a crop rotation plan to help maintain the health of your soil. A 4 year rotation plan is ideal.

Pest Control:
Pests are a constant menace in the garden and tend to worry organic gardeners in particular. However there are a range of pest control methods available. These can include companion planting, manually removing the bugs – either from the plant or the planet, depending on how annoyed you are with them – and there are also a range of homemade organic sprays and teas which can be very effective. A simple spray of dishwashing detergent (only a few drops), water and neem oil is great for aphids, whitefly and other pests.

But remember that your garden needs the good insects such as ladybugs and hoverflies, so be careful when you spray.

Fertilizers and soil conditioning:
Homemade fertilizers and compost are a great way to feed your soil and also reduce your household waste – all your green waste can go into your compost bin and worm farm. Generally, depending on your climate, homemade compost will be ready to use after 3 to 4 months. It will smell sweet and be crumbly in your hand.

Fertilizers can also be animal-based if you have a local friendly farmer with a ready supply of the main ingredient, however if you are using animal manure make sure it is completely rotted and decomposed before you add to your garden.

Equipment:
The only other equipment you may want to consider when gardening organically is a compost bin or worm farm. You can buy these from your garden centre or make one yourself. Just ensure that your bins are easy to reach from the house on a clean path, otherwise you are less likely to add your green waste.

And now you’re ready to plant! I wish you happy, healthy and successful gardening.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.

Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening”, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden”. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.com

Fi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.

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