Been thinking of going organic? Good news! It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and all you need to get started is plants, dirt, and fertilizer.
Think about what you want to put in your garden, and how much space you have to work with. Plan out where you’ll put each plant, and how many of each you want. Graph paper is a lifesaver here, because you can plan out every square foot if you want to.
The types of plants you’re going to grow will decide how deep your dirt needs to be. Herbs don’t need deep soil, so they can do well in window boxes and containers. Tomatoes, on the other hand, do better in raised beds or in-ground. Sometimes you can cheat the system by planting shallow plants right next to deep plants, but every plant needs some space of its own. No one likes to be crowded.
Do a little research on how many plants to grow. You don’t want to end up with way too many of something you’re not going to eat, and some plants can surprise you. For example, an average zucchini plant in an average garden having an average year will produce thirty pounds of zucchinis. Thirty pounds. On average.
Before you start digging holes, you need to get to know your dirt. Use a soil test kit to figure out what nutrients you’ve got enough of, and what you need to add. Ideally your pH will be balanced, and your soil will be rich in nitrogen (for leaf development), phosphorous (for fruit growth), and potassium (for healthy roots). If you’re lacking in any of those minerals, amend your soil and test again after a few days.
Start prepping your garden soil about a month before you want to plant. Mix your amendments (like fertilizer, nutrients, and specialty soils) in with a garden fork or a shovel. You want to make your soil fluffy. Dirt that’s too tightly packed can make it harder for roots to grow.
Check if your soil’s ready for planting by rolling a clump lightly into a ball. Now crumble it in your hand. If it just breaks into a few smaller pieces, it’s ready however, if it feels doughy or soggy you need to wait for drier weather. And if it’s hard or powdery water the ground, fluff it again, and check again in a few days.
Fertilizers and amendments don’t just feed the plants. They also feed the soil, helpful bugs, and all the other things that keep your garden thriving. Everything needs to eat, after all.
Add them to your garden in the spring and again in the fall. And if you have a longer growing season, you can use a little more. Organic fertilizers are slow-releasing, so you’re not going to overload your soil.
OK, we didn’t mention pests. But we need to be realistic. You’re going to have pests. And since you’re not going to use any chemical herbicides or pesticides, how will you protect your plants from being choked out by weeds, or eaten by bugs? Thankfully, your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware store is well-stocked with a full line of pest management and weed controls for organic gardening.
And don’t let your organic gardening end with vegetables. Shrubs, flowerbeds, even your lawn can benefit from organic methods. Don’t be stingy, spread the love!
CA ONLY: No Sales Tax – February 18-20, 2017 the price you see is the price you pay. So it’s the perfect time to stock up and save on the stuff you need anyway.
OR Residents ONLY: 10% OFF – February 18-20, 2017 the price you see is the price you pay. So it’s the perfect time to stock up and save on the stuff you need anyway.
Head over to your neighborhood Orchard Supply Hardware® and grab the plants, soils, and amendments you need to get your organic garden started right.