Simple Steps to a GREAT Organic Vege Garden!
Ever thought about gardening organically, but thought it was too hard? Growing vegetables organically is a healthy and satisfying way to garden, as can be cheaper than conventional gardening with chemicals and sprays.
The first step to building a successful organic vege garden is choosing the right location. Vegetables like shelter from the wind and full sun, and good drainage. It is also important to keep your garden close to a water supply, or within a hose-length. Planning out your garden on paper before you begin is also a good idea so you know what you want to plant, and where.
Preparing your soil:
The key to a successful organic garden is good soil. Ideally, it’s best to start with clean soil but if your soil is difficult or contaminated, then you can use raised vegetable beds to make sure your plants have the best start possible.
Most garden centers now sell a range of organic seeds, or you can buy seeds on line. There are also a number of heritage plants which are often disease resistant that you may want to consider.
To prepare the soil before planting, it is best to feed it with your home made fertilizers. If this will take too long then you can buy good, organic fertilizer in most garden shops. Add your fertilizer at least three weeks before planting to allow the fertilizer to fully break down and integrate into your soil.
Most seed packets clearly show when to plant your seeds in the area in which you live, and how to care for your plants. It is best to follow these instructions to ensure a vigorous, thriving crop. If you plant your seeds outside their optimal growing period then they will either fail to germinate or bolt straight to seed, which is both disappointing and frustrating.
Organic gardens need plenty of water as plants which are stressed through lack of water become vulnerable to disease. A thorough, soaking water every few days in summer should be sufficient to look after your plants, if you haven’t had rain. The water needs to penetrate the soil deeply to help the root structure develop deeply and vigorously. If you do not water the soil thoroughly the roots will reach for the moisture at the surface, creating weak, vulnerable plants.
Using organic mulch:
Organic mulch is an important aspect of gardening during summer as it helps protect the plants from water loss, and suppresses weeds. It also feeds your soil as it breaks down.
Hay, grass clippings and bark chips are all excellent mulches. It’s important however to make sure that if you use a permanent mulch like bark that your soil is not too damp in winter. This can cause your plants to rot and wither.
While gardeners love the idea of growing organically, most worry about how to control pests. This is often a reason why many gardeners return to chemical controls for the garden. There are a range of organic pest control options that function well, including companion planting, home made organic pest sprays, manual maintenance and physical barriers.
These methods might require a little more effort from the gardener but they are tried and true, and cost effective to make.
If you follow the guidelines above you will be rewarded with flourishing, healthy and strong vegetables, free from chemicals and artificial sprays. And what could be better than that?
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.