Six Ingenius Ways To Have An Organic Vegetable Garden Without Giving Up Your Life
Tomatoes taken by fusarium wilt. Sugar snap peas eaten up by aphids. An army of slugs in the lettuce patch. Broccoli that never heads.
Sound familiar? If you’ve experienced any of the above, then you know how difficult gardening—especially organic gardening—can be to integrate into an already full schedule. Plants need care and careful monitoring when you’re avoiding chemical pesticides like the plague.
But there is a way to successfully plant and grow organic vegetables. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to manage an organic vegetable garden without having to devote all your free time to it. Allow me to share them with you…
1. Start small. I decided to plant a garden the year my son turned one. That would’ve been okay, if I’d stuck to a small lettuce patch and a couple of tomato plants. But, not knowing how much time and attention my son would require in the coming months, I bit off way more than I could chew. I ended up having an aphid infestation, diseased tomatoes, and generally an unfruitful harvest.
Another option for keeping it small is container gardening. Anybody can find time to tend to five potted plants per day, especially since container gardens tend to be close to the house, so you are more likely to remember to check them. Which leads me to the next point…
2. Make time to check on your plants at least every other day. Carefully checking each plant for disease and pests on alternate days won’t take very much time, especially if you kept your garden down to a manageable size. But the time you invest doing it will pay off big-time. You’ll be able to find pests and recognize the beginning stages of disease before they have a chance to completely obliterate your crops.
3. Set up an easy watering system. Underground irrigation systems, once installed, require the least amount of time and effort. However, the cost might be more than you’re willing to cover. If that’s the case, lay soaker hoses an inch or so under the soil where you’re going to plant. Being able to turn on a spigot and leave it for twenty minutes is much easier than lugging a hose around the yard.
4. Write down the fertilizing schedule in a calendar or daytimer you look at often. If you overfertilize, you end up with a lot of foliage and not much harvest. Underfertilizing will lead to pathetic looking plants and small fruits. Different crops have different feeding requirements, so getting yourself organized in this area of gardening will really pay off.
5. Spray with chemical-free pesticides and repellents every week or two as soon as the shoots sprout up from the ground. Bugs hate neem oil, which is extracted from a native Indian tree. It can also prevent or fend off certain fungi, like powdery mildew. Spinosad is odorless and safe for the beneficial insects, while it kills the plant-eaters. Orange oil kills any insect that it hits.
Be sure to rotate the use of organic pesticides. Too much neem oil can harm bees, and Spinosad is supposed to be used no more than once a month for most crops.
6. Consider raised bed gardening. Or, at the very least, mulch your garden heavily. Either way will save you a lot of weeding (I have practically no weeds in my raised beds). Raised beds are also much easier to dig into because of the loose soil.
Growing your very own organic vegetable garden, even if your days are full, is possible. Follow these tips, and you will soon find yourself surrounded by delicious food from a garden you have spent only a few minutes a day on.
Emily Jacques is a natural health nut, mother, and online wellness coach at http://thecrunchycoach.com/blog. You can receive the her special report, “From Atkins To Vegan: How America’s Diets Are Failing Us” for FREE when you visit her at http://thecrunchycoach.com/healthy-living.html.