Organic Vegetable Gardening
Organic vegetable gardening
So what is “organic” vegetable gardening anyway? The definition can be difficult to pin down.
In simple terms, it is an attempt to grow a garden that mimics a natural environment.
Organic vegetable gardening includes…
Starting with good soil
The most important part of any garden. I mean, you wouldn’t build your home on a sh**ty foundation, right? An ideal soil for growing is dark and full of nutrients. It is beneficial to test your soil to get an idea of what you’re working with. Especially if you’re just starting out. We like to get a simple home test before each season, to make sure we’re adding the correct nutrients. We mix in some compost and any other preferred soil additives at the beginning of each season.
There are several plants that grow really well next to each other. One may provide shade that another prefers. Some may repel common pests, (or attract beneficial ones). Certain plants are even known to enhance the flavor of other plants fruit! However, some plants actually do not grow well together. Check out this diagram for a brief lesson on what does and doesn’t grow well together.
Planting a variety of crops
If a pest or disease targets your plant, they are more likely to move onto the neighbor if it is similar. Limiting the number of each variety reduces this risk. If you really want a large number of one plant, try planting some in a different location or in containers.
Promoting the best varieties
Ideally these are the most pest and disease resistant. They may even produce a more bountiful and tasty harvest. We really like the seeds from High Mowing. But don’t hesitate to try a few different companies! The Homestead Garden has a great article about choosing the right seeds.
Move plants around seasonally
Some plants take up more nutrients than others, or more of one nutrient. So if you plants the same crops in the same areas every year, some nutrients may rapidly deplete. By rotating your crops, you can put in less fertilizers and get the most out of your soil.
Organic gardening does NOT include…
Using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides
This is one of the main points of organic gardening. Honestly, we have never found a need for them. Organic fertilizers can easily be found in stores, our favorite is Happy Frog from FoxFarm. One of the best fertilizers for plants, compost, can easily be made at home. Pests can be controlled with a variety of methods. We make an organic pest spray that is easy to make at home, and has no harmful effects to pets or people.
Tilling, or minimum tillage
An important difference between organic gardening and traditional gardening methods is that there is no tillage in nature. When soil is left undisturbed, the microbes are able to work and the other natural processes (kind of scientific stuff) are left to do their thing. Planting a cover crop (like clovers) during the off season prevents soil erosion, and reduces the likelihood of more pesky weeds intruding.
Ignoring your garden
A gardening season often starts out with quite a bit of work (depending on the size of the garden) and then, we wait. It can be easier than you think to forget to check up on things for a few days. The next thing you know, you plants are dry and pests are attacking them. Water your crops regularly (daily or every-other-day) and check for signs of pests or disease. Repeatedly stressing plants out could reduce your harvest, or you could even lose entire plants.
Relying on one pest control method
There is really not one fix for every problem, it’s never that easy folks. And all gardens will face some pest problems, the goal is to keep the damage to a minimum. We have found that the most effective is a bunch of different methods. A small barrier fence can prevent bunnies or raccoons. Companion plants can repel harmful bugs. And a homemade organic pest spray can help to fill in the gaps.
Organic Vegetable Gardening is not as difficult as many people make it out to be. With a little time and effort you can grow healthier plants. Without using synthetic chemicals to grow your food, you know you are getting a better quality meal! 😀