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How To Start an Organic Garden

One way to ensure your children aren’t being fed dangerous ingredients that are so commonly in food today is to grow your own vegetables. If you’re not an avid gardener, it may be best to start small; taking on too much can cause frustration, and can lead to quitting before you begin.

With that in mind, let’s get started!

Test the Soil

First of all, you will want to test the soil of your plot. There are many home test kits that you can purchase, or you can send a copy to the local agricultural extension office and get a full breakdown (for a fee). They will often offer suggestions on how to get the correct balance.

Compost is a great, natural way to make sure the soil is healthy before you plant your organic fruits and vegetables. It’s also a completely free way to feed your plants. If you have farms in your area, contact them to see if you can get manure; but be sure that they only feed their animals organic feed and that they don’t use growth hormones. Family farms generally don’t use the artificial products, so they are a great source for manure.

Building your own compost has many benefits; it’s free, saves water and keeps the weed population down. I’ll cover in another post how to create your own successful compost.

Choose your Plants

Next you will need to choose your plants. Do you want to purchase seedlings, or start fresh from seeds? What plants will grow well in your neck of the woods? If you decide to purchase seedlings, you will need to make sure they haven’t had any pesticides or herbicides applied. A great source for organic seedlings that will grow well in your garden is your local farmer’s market.

Unless you’re keeping your plants in containers, do research on each plant to determine how far apart each plant should be planted, whether they need sun or shade, and what time of year they can be transplanted.

Plant Care

Now that your soil is tested, your compost is started and your plants are ready, it’s time to take care of your organic garden.  First thing in the morning is the best time to water, especially when using compost. Be sure to water only the roots; plant leaves are delicate and easily bruised. The roots are the part of the plant that uses the water, so direct your watering efforts accordingly.

In your individual plant research, you should have discovered how much water each plant needs. However, as a general guideline, plants need approximately an inch of water a week…so keep track of how much rain your garden gets; you may not need to water if you get a lot of rain!

Weeding by hand is rewarding, great exercise, and can be very relaxing. It’s also a lot of hard work; the use of compost will reduce the number of weeds you encounter, but it won’t eliminate them altogether. Try using mulch to keep your weed population down.

Conserve Water

Keep your organic gardening theme going by catching your own rain water, and using it to water your garden. If you live in an area where you pay a water bill, this is a great option for saving water! Many people use a rain barrel system to collect the rain water. This is an effective conservation method and great for taking care of your organic garden.

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