Are you ready to boost the nutritional content of the foods you grow in your garden and have a healthier food supply for your family?
We’ve put together ten organic gardening tips (and some great links) so the fruits and vegetables grown in your garden are the healthiest possible.
Organically grown foods are shown to be higher in essential vitamins and minerals than conventionally grown foods. Imagine eating your homegrown fruits and vegetables – nutritious foods free of any harmful pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, and free from genetic modification. It’s also environmentally sound, keeping toxins out of the soil and water supply.
Studies at the University of Washington have concluded that children who eat a diet of organic food show a level of pesticide six times lower than compared to children who eat a diet of inorganically grown food.
We’ve chosen ten practices and references to help you garden more organically.
My Top Ten Organic Gardening Tips
#1 Rotate your plantings
Different vegetables and fruits absorb different nutrients from the soil. For example, if you plant tomatoes in the same spot every year, eventually they’ll deplete the soil of the nutrients they need. However, by changing where you plant your veggies in a 3-year rotation, the soil nutrients have a chance to rebalance. You’ll have healthier and tastier produce. Additionally, rotation also helps prevent attacks by disease and pests, which may have overwintered in the soil.
Here’s a great article from MotherEarth News with all the information you’ll need to understand crop rotation.
#2 Use friendly insects as natural pesticides.
Beneficial insects feast on aphids, mites, caterpillars, and other plant-consuming bugs. They are harmless to people, plants, and pets. Ladybugs are the best defence from aphids over-running your garden.
You can buy bags of them at your local nursery or even order them online. Place them in your garden and prevent aphid infestations from ruining your crops. Here are the top 10 insects that are major predators of insect pests, with photos so you can easily identify them.
#3 Use Organic insecticides
Organic insecticides can be used to control things like beetles and worms.
Make a garlic spray by soaking four ounces of chopped garlic bulbs in two tablespoons of mineral oil for one day. Dissolve one teaspoon of fish emulsion in a pint of water and add it to your solution. Stirit thoroughly and strain the liquid and store it in a glass container – not metal. Dilute 1 part solution to every 20 parts of water. This solution, sprayed on infected plants, kills aphids, mosquitoes, and onion flies.
Commercially available botanical insecticides are plant derivatives, and can be more toxic than some synthetics. However, they are a better choice because they break down rapidly and do not accumulate in the food chain as synthetics do.
#4 Try companion planting
Grow specific plants together to attract beneficial insects or to repel harmful insects. For example, sage repels cabbage moths and black flea beetles. Marigolds repel a variety of insects, so intersperse a few marigold plants throughout the garden. Garlic planted alongside roses will repel aphids.
Some plants replenish nutrients in the soil lost by another one. Larger plants can shelter smaller ones from too much sun. Plant pole beans and corn together, and the beans will use the corn as a support trellis, as well as fixing nitrogen in the soil.
Most information on companion planting is anecdotal, derived from what gardeners have observed over many years. Not all sources agree on what is best to plant together. However, here’s a handy chart to give you an idea of which plants thrive when planted together.
#5 Use organic seeds and starter plants
If you’re sowing your own seeds, choose ones from certified organic seed companies. Over 170 companies sell organic, untreated seeds and heirloom seeds. For information about these companies, see http://www.greenpeople.org/seeds.htm
When shopping for starter plants, select ones that are labeled as organically grown.
#6 Feed your soil
Possibly the most important of the organic gardening tips is to constantly improve your soil. Vegetables grown in nutrient rich soil will be nutrient rich. Compost and well-rotted manure are two sustainable ways of providing extra nutrients your plants need to grow and survive.
Adding them helps retain soil moisture and increases the friability of the soil. Every year, tonnes of organic matter goes to landfills. Divert your own organic kitchen waste into a compost, and you’ll have rich source material to add to your garden each year. Everything you need to know about home composting is in this ebook, available in all Amazon stores: Composting Made Easy.
#7 Seed boldly and wisely
If you’re sowing seeds, sow several times more than you think you’ll need. For example if you’re only going to plant one tomato plant in your garden, start 3 or 4 seeds. Seeds don’t always grow well and you can then choose the strongest looking to plant in your garden. As a bonus, you may have some plants to give away to friends or neighbours.
Read the information on the back of the seed packet or the tag – its there for a good reason. This information will tell you how much sun and water the plant needs so you’ll be able to choose the best location for it.
# 8 Use compost tea
You’re composting your garden and kitchen waste – good for you. Making compost tea is another great way to use that rich black gold. Every couple of weeks throughout the growing season, give your plants a boost with a shot of compost tea. Not sure what this ‘tea’ is or how to make this wonder fertilizer? Find out more right here.
#9 Know how to water
The best time to water with sprinklers is in the morning. The sun will have a chance to evaporate any moisture from the foliage so it does not attract fungus or mildew. Even better, set up a system of drip irrigation. These systems direct water to the roots of the plants, keeping the leaves and flowers dry. Invest in a timer so that it becomes completely automatic and your watering will take care of itself. If you’re beginning to set up raised garden beds, consider laying in a system right in the beds. Here’s a great article showing how it can be done.
#10 Use mulch wisely
Mulching between rows and around plants has several benefits. Weeds will be fewer. The soil will retain more moisture. Organic mulch can be dug in at season’s end, adding nutrients and friability to the next year’s soil.
However, make sure there isn’t an accumulation of mulch right around the plant stems. It may foster mold growth and infect your plants. By directing your watering with a watering system, you’ll also keep the mulch drier.
I hope you find these 10 organic gardening tips helpful. Organic gardening is an environmentally friendly and easy way to bring fresh produce into your home. You can grow flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits organically, using these sustainable tips and tricks.
For detailed information on organic gardening, follow this great series of videos from an experienced organic gardener: https://www.youtube.com/user/groworganic