Many people think organic gardening is much too complicated for the regular homeowner, but in reality it is much easier to make and maintain an organic garden than any other type of garden. Yes, you may need different types of seed and plants than the ones found in local garden centers and nurseries, but the basics of building a garden are easy.
Planning is a big part of organic gardening. Before you buy your first shovel or seed, you need to plan first. Do you want to have raised beds or in ground. What kind of soil do you already have? What kind of garden do you want to have? Start planning early spring or even the fall before you build your garden.
Your greatest tool in your organic gardening arsenal is a notebook and pen. Write down all your plans, especially when planning the year before, so you do not forget anything. Watch where the sun is in relationship to your garden. If you are planning on planting vegetables, they need 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. All gardens need well drained soil, so also watch where the water puddles up in your yard and stays for awhile. Avoid those areas for your garden, or build up the area with gravel and soil.
Soil Testing and Soil.
A soil test kit consists of little tubes of liquid in which you place some of your soil. It is mixed up and the resulting color of the liquid tells you what nutrients and the type of soil you have. It gives you the pH level of your soil telling you if it is alkaline, acidic or neutral. Some flowers and shrubs prefer a slightly acidic soil while others grow better in an alkaline environment. Herbs and vegetables tend to prefer a neutral soil. If your soil is not suitable for what you wish to grow in it, additives are easily placed into the soil to increase or decrease the pH.
If you plan on raising beds, it is best to use potting soil and compost to make a light and fluffy soil. You do not walk on raised beds so the soil will remain light. If you are doing an in ground garden, and plan to walk on it, use topsoil and compost. Take a handful of your soil and squish it. It should hold together but crumble when touched. If it stays together or blows apart like dust; you have a problem. Add peat moss to soil to make it lighter along with compost.
One of the most important things needed when building an organic garden is the compost pile. This is a necessity because compost gives the garden what it needs to stay healthy and it feeds the plants. A garden without a compost pile is futile to say the least. Build a compost pile out of wood, chicken wire, cinder block or purchase a barrel-like plastic composter from the garden center. In it you will put dried leaves, grass clippings, garden waste and such. You can also put food waste from vegetables in your compost pile.
Avoid placing meat in it because the fat will do it little good. If you know a farmer who has a chicken coop, ask for dried chicken manure and put that in your compost. Grow the herb comfrey, a plant with huge leaves and place some of the leaves in the compost pile. It helps it break down faster. Hay, straw and pine needles are also fine to put in your compost. You will need to add a great deal of compost to your organic garden when you dig it. It is acceptable to place about 3 to 4 inches of compost over the top of the garden area and dig it in about 8 inches before planting.
You will also need to replenish nutrients every year after the garden is spent by adding more compost, so composting is what will keep your garden going year after year. If you don’t have a compost pile when you build your garden, you can get it from garden centers. It is just better to make it yourself.
Avoid seed you might find at the discount department store in town. Opt for certified organic seeds that do not have any genetic modification. You can send for seeds online, including on Amazon or you can find an heirloom seed exchange group, Once you start growing your own crops from these organic seeds, you can save the seed for next year or share them with others.
You will need a spade to dig holes to put in plants. If you have a short growing period, you will need seed trays, lights and bottom warmers to start seeds indoors during the end of winter to the beginning of spring. Purchase mason jars and spray bottles to make organic fertilizers and pest deterrents.
Starting an organic garden isn’t has hard as you think and the garden can provide healthy food and flowers that are free of any chemicals. It may cost a little money for start up, but once you have your compost pile and other tools you need, it will cost very little to keep an organic garden going every year after.