Organic gardening is becoming increasingly popular as more people look to eliminate chemical products from what they grow in the garden. While using chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers may make garden maintenance easier, there are drawbacks to using such substances, such as causing damage to plants, insects, and wildlife.Moreover, those growing organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs will find they taste much better than anything store-bought. There is also a peace of mind knowing precisely what products are used to grow your produce, especially when eliminating potentially dangerous toxins and chemical from the cultivation process.
So, organic gardening is certainly a fulfilling hobby to take up and is something that the entire family can enjoy taking part in. However, organic gardening isn’t the easiest thing to get started with, as most of us are used to using chemical products for garden maintenance.
Check out this handy beginner’s guide to organic gardening for everything you need to know to get started!
Guide to Organic Gardening
Thankfully, the tools required for organic gardening are the exact same, so you shouldn’t need to buy anything new unless you’re missing a few essentials. For the most part, you should be able to start organic gardening with the following tools
- Hand Trowel & Fork
- Pruning Shears
- Weeding Tools
- Watering Can
Choosing What You Want to Grow
The first place to start with your organic garden is deciding on what to grow. Now, the amount of space you have will determine what you can grow, while things like soil type and temperature also need to be factored.
There are many types of fruits and vegetables that are easy enough to grow here in the UK, but you should consider how easy they are to maintain organically.
For instance, strawberries are relatively low maintenance and easy to grow without any chemical assistance, while potatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, spring onions, and chilis are just a few examples of low-maintenance vegetables that are perfect for an organic garden.
Herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow organically as they require virtually no attention bar watering and the odd feeding. Organic herbs straight from the garden taste incredible and can be used throughout the kitchen, so are a great option for beginners.
If you’re looking to add an organic flower bed to your garden, there are also plenty of great options. Annuals are a fine choice as they flower from seed the first year before dying, so will add some instance colour and character to your garden – just be sure to research how easy they are to maintain with natural products!
Perennials are great for a beginner’s organic garden as they require very little maintenance. Many can be planted and left to grow without the need for much fertiliser or pesticides, and they grow back each year so won’t need dug up or replaced any time soon.
Picking a Plot
After choosing what you want to grow, it’s time to look for a suitable plot in your garden. The bigger the garden the easier it is to dedicate a spot for growing organically, but even people with small gardens have plenty of options for growing things.
Raised beds are perhaps the best choice for an organic garden of any size. This allows you to create the perfect growing conditions for whatever your adding to the plot, and it means you won’t need to dig up a spot in the ground.
If you have poor soil for growing in, a raised bed may be the ideal solution, as you’ll be adding fresh soil to the bed for growing in. It’s relatively easy to make the frame for a raised be, and you can use a variety of materials, including wood, bricks, and stones.
Make sure it’s not too wide as you need to be able to reach the centre of the bed for maintenance, while also ensuring the bed is deep enough to allow healthy roots to establish. Simply add a choice of soil and compost from your local garden centre and get planting!
Decent ground soil is also suitable for organic gardening, although always ensure the conditions are suitable for the type of plants or flowers you’re growing. While a cost-effective option, it requires plenty of digging, so keep this in mind!
Plus, ground soil is teeming with organisms that will keep your plants healthy for years to come, although it’s important to consider the type of soil in the ground. For instance, clay soil retains moisture well, making it a good choice for plants with shallow roots.
Another great choice for smaller gardens, using containers to grow organically is easy enough as most plants can be grown in containers. In fact, it may be a good idea to start out seedlings in containers, even in spacious gardens, as you can easily monitor their growth before transporting them to another plot.
Always ensure containers are a suitable size for what you’re growing and that they have sufficient drainage. Containers are good for growing a wide range of produce organically, as you can get the right mixture of soil and nutrients each plant requires for healthy growth.
After planting in the plot, it’s important to keep an eye on everything as it grows, especially in the early stages. Plants require some additional care in their early days, so always take the time to water them at the first sign of wilting.
When watering, be sure to choose a suitable time of the day. For example, early mornings and late in the evening are generally the best times to water as these are the coolest part of the day, as this ensures less evaporation.
Seedings require frequent watering due to their delicate roots that are still developing, reducing the frequency as they become more established. If you’re ever unsure of whether they need watering, place your finger a few inches into the soil to see how dry it is – don’t water if the soil is still damp a few inches below the surface.
Also, when transplanting seedlings into large plots or containers, be sure to water them before and after. Fruits and vegetables should be a priority for watering in your organic garden, as perennial plants have deeper roots so find water in soil with greater ease.
Perhaps the biggest difficult of organic gardening comes from weed management. Weed killers are mostly chemical based so won’t be suitable for your organic garden, even if they make weed control much easier.
There are several options for organic weed management, with the most effective being to simply dig them out. This is especially effective for hardy perennial weeds such as dandelions but requires frequent digging.
So, it helps to regularly inspect for weeds, removing them before they come established and therefore more difficult to cultivate. Forking works well for smaller, less intrusive weeds growing, while adding a layer of mulch to your plot is also an effective way to prevent many annual weeds.
To ensure a thriving organic garden, you need to focus on soil maintenance. Fertile soil ensures plant growth is healthy and eliminates the need for chemical plant feeds. There are various natural methods available for creating fertile soil.
For instance, it’s a good idea to start composting as this offers an organic fertiliser that’s great for soil healthy. Of course, composting is a long process, and not everyone has the space for a composter, so you may want to buy some organic compost from a garden centre instead.
In many cases, leaving ground soil undisturbed is a favoured process for organic gardeners. This allows that various organisms present in the soil to work naturally to improve soil structure and reduce moisture loss through evaporation.
However, methodical weeding is necessary to leave most of the soil undistributed, so bear this in mind. Digging ensures natural composts can be added while allowing for efficient weed maintenance.
Another big challenge facing organic gardeners is pest control. As synthetic pesticides are the most wide-spread method for pest control, finding an alternative for an organic garden is often difficult although not impossible.
A popular method involves using nature itself. There are many natural predators that can be attracted to a garden to work as organic pest control through a process known as natural predation.
Attracting insects such as ladybirds and lacewings is a great start, and these can be drawn to your garden using pollen-rich flowers and various herbs, while another option is to purchase larvae online and introduce them into your garden.
Hedgehogs love to eat slugs, one of the biggest pests in any garden, and attracting them to gardens isnt as difficult as many assume. For instance, leaving small wild sections of the garden may attract a hedgehog to nest, while building small shelters and leaving food and water outside may work too.
This process doesn’t work for everyone of course, so a good choice for pest control is for a natural pesticide. Water mixed with a small amount of liquid soap is known to deter certain insects (such as aphids) from plants.
If slugs are a big issue, consider using natural barriers to prevent them getting to your plants. For example, they avoid contact with copper and don’t like the sharp edges of broken egg shells, so consider surrounding your plants with something along these lines.
Pricing last updated on 2018-06-21 at 20:34 / affiliate links - Details