How to Start an Organic Garden
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How to Start an Organic Garden

by guest writer Darlene Mase

April 11, 2019

Choosing plants for your oranic garden
It's hard to get legitimately organic food these days. Even products that are deemed organic are often packaged with chemicals to keep produce from wilting. What's a person to do? Starting your own organic garden is the best way to ensure that you're getting fresh, organic, and non-toxic crops each time. But starting a garden can seem intimidating: soil, seeds, and sunlight needs can be a bit overwhelming. But actually, even the least garden-savvy person can start their own organic garden in no time. Here's how:

1) Pick an area that gets plenty of sunlight.

Whether you're planning on planting your veggies in the ground or container gardening seems a bit more doable, your plants are going to need plenty of sunlight to photosynthesize. Most vegetable plants require full sun, or at least eight hours of direct sunlight. When deciding on a spot for your organic garden, you'll also want it to be near your water source and close to your house. You're more likely to properly maintain your organic garden if tending to it is convenient.

2) Plan your garden.

Next, you'll want to consider what type of veggies to grow. An obvious thing that many people actually overlook is to plant stuff that you enjoy eating. If, for instance, you can't tolerate spicy food, there's no need to plant jalapeño peppers just because they grow easily. Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, bell peppers, and spinach are generally easy to grow, even if you don't know anything about gardening. Also, be sure to pick things that will grow in your hardiness zone.

You also want to think about how big you want your garden to be. If you're just starting out, start small. If you start out with too much land or too many plants, you might get overwhelmed and give up. Plant a few plants, treat them well, and you'll be richly rewarded. But even if you don't have a backyard, don't despair. I've gotten incredible yields of tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers while planting in containers.

3) Prepare the soil.

If you're going to be using a raised garden bed, you can buy organic garden soil at your local nursery or hardware store. If you're going to plant your plants directly into the ground, till up the soil to loosen up the dirt and add some organic compost to ensure that the soil is nutrient-rich. If you're just starting out, you likely don't have a compost pile, but you can just as easily purchase organic compost.

4) Purchase and plant your plants.

Many people like to start plants from seeds, but that takes a fair amount of time and can be stressful if you're new to organic gardening. Instead, you can purchase plants for about $0.25 to $3.50 per plant. When planting your plants, be sure to plant deeply, especially with tomatoes. Generally, though, the container of purchase has planting instructions, so just follow those.

5) Fertilize.

When you initially start your garden, two to four inches of fresh compost will greatly enhance the viability of your veggies by enriching the soil. However, plants also need regular feeding. Do this by adding fertilizer about once a month. You can make your own fertilizers or purchase an organic variety from your local plant or hardware store.

6) Water your plants regularly.

It should go without saying that plants need watering, but I can't write an organic gardening article without reminding you of it. Newly seeded areas should be watered once daily, and newly planted areas need water about every two to three days. If you're doing container gardening, you'll need to water more often as container plants tend to dry out faster. By late spring, you can water your plants less often but you'll want to water each area for a longer amount of time to soften the ground and encourage roots to grow deeper.

7) Pull weeds on a regular basis.

Weeds are annoying, but they'll be there, no matter where you live or how fine your soil. They compete with your veggies for nutrients and space, so be sure to address them as soon as you see them.

8) Protect your plants.

Pests are a pretty normal part of gardening, but they can be worsened by improper moisture, nutrients, or sunlight. To combat pests, you can use horticultural oils, organic insecticidal soaps, or hot pepper sprays. You can also foster natural predators in your garden, such as frogs, toads, and birds. However, birds have a tendency to peck at tomatoes, so protect them with simple mesh bags. I like to save my mesh nylon bags anytime I purchase onions and other types of produce. Drape the bags over your plants or individual fruits to keep birds out while keeping sunlight and water in.

Starting an organic garden requires little effort and is such a rewarding experience. Once you pluck that first tomato or pepper off the plant, you'll be addicted and will never want to go back to store-bought produce again. It's easy, healthy, affordable, and sustainable, so don't hold back, and start today.

Author's Bio: Darlene Mase lives in Newnan, Georgia with her husband and daughter. She is a stay-at-home mom and works as a freelance writer for Zumper.com and other popular sites. During her free time, Darlene enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, cycling, gardening, caving, kayaking, or anything else outdoors.

Photo Credit: nikola-jovanovic-631527-unsplash.jpg