Organic Gardening Answers – Part 2
The Best Times of Year to Start Your Organic Garden
Many people mistakenly think that they must start their garden at very precise times during the year. In reality, though, you can have a very successful garden even if you start in the mid-to-late summer. Just be sure, if you start your garden later that you don’t try to grow your plants from seed. When starting later in the season, purchase plants that are already grown, and plant them full-grown instead of planting seeds.
People are often surprised to learn that the fall is also a great time to start a garden. Many of your salad greens do best when planted in the fall. Lettuce, spinach, and kale are a few examples of vegetables that truly thrive in the fall growing season, even if you plant them from seeds or as small plants.
Of course, depending upon the specific geographic location where you’ll be growing your garden, the above advice may vary. You should always check with the folks at your local garden center and get their advice on the best times of year to grow the specific fruits and vegetables that you’d like to include in your garden.
How to Make Organic Gardening Compost and Organic Pest Control
Every time you rake leaves in the yard, cut the grass, or peel fruits and vegetables, you have the ingredients needed for making great compost. Although it’s not necessary to water or flip your compost, doing so will speed up the process for making your own compost. Ideally, you want your compost pile to remain damp, but not saturated. It’s best to have compost that is rich in carbon materials. Carbon materials include things like dried grass clippings, old/used coffee grinds, and dead leaves. The nitrogen materials in your compost should be quite limited. Nitrogen materials include green materials such as green glass clippings or green plant or vegetable waste material. It is recommended to have anywhere between a 20-to-1 to a 40-to-1 ratio of carbon materials to nitrogen materials in your compost. So, as an example, for every pound 20-40 pounds of carbon materials, you should only have about 1-2 pounds of nitrogen materials in your compost.
It can be challenging to maintain an organic garden that is free of pests like bugs, slugs, and other living things. Obviously, you can’t use chemicals to keep these pests away, but there are some organic-friendly things that you can do to keep most pests out of your garden. Slugs and snails can be a common problem, as they will often come out at night, crawl into your garden, and eat your plants, just as they’re starting to grow. An organic solution to this issue is to place iron phosphate pellets in your garden. Iron phosphate is natural and it will not harm your garden in any way. While iron phosphate is lethal to snails and slugs, these pests are attracted to it and eat it anyway.
Another excellent, organic pest control solution to ward off most other types of bugs is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is made up of tiny, fossilized sea creatures. Diatomaceous earth will cut any bug that crawls over it. While it’s too tiny to harm a person, diatomaceous earth works like a razor blade or pieces of broken glass on bugs. To apply diatomaceous earth to your garden, just spread it around your garden with a shaker or even your hands, as it is not harmful to humans.
What to Add to Your Soil, for a Thriving Garden, While Keeping Things Organic
In an organic garden, you don’t want to add chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides to your soil. In an organic garden, plants are fed by the micro-organisms in the soil. Chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides can kill those vital micro-organisms that plants need, in order to produce organic, chemical-free fruits and vegetables. At the same time, however, you need to get your soil ready for planting and nourish these micro-organisms that your plants need. The way to organically provide this nourishment to your soil is through compost. Compost is something that you can either make yourself or purchase at your local garden center. Compost works with the microbes in your soil to provide natural fertilizer for your plants.
Similarly, in order to have a truly organic garden, you can’t use chemical-based weed killers. How, then, do you ensure that your garden does not grow weeds, without using chemically-laden weed killers? The answer, very simply is mulch. Mulch keeps your soil covered and protected from the sunlight, throughout the gardening season, so that weeds cannot grow. Mulch also has the additional benefit of conserving water in your garden. The best materials to use for organic mulch are grass clippings, leaves, and straws.
Choose Your Organic Gardening Location and Start Small
The first thing you need to consider is where you’re going to plant and grow your organic garden. The most important factor to consider, with regard to location, is that your garden is in a place that gets plenty of sunlight. Ideally, the location you select should get around 8-10 hours of sunlight per day, during the summer months. You also want to make sure that your garden is in a location that will allow you to reach into any part of it, to remove weeds or debris, without needing to step onto the soil.
You also want to make sure that your garden is located in a place that gets good drainage. In other words, when it rains, you don’t want the water collecting in puddles, where you’re trying to grow your garden. The best way to test this is by pouring some water into the area where you will grow your garden and see if the water collects there, or if it drains away easily.
Select The Right Equipment For Organic Garden
When people think about starting a garden, they’re often under the impression that they need lots of fancy tools, equipment, and machinery to get started. In reality, you only need a few very simple items to have a wonderful garden. Everything you need to start and maintain your garden can be found at your local hardware store.
First, you should get four wooden stakes, each around two and a half to three feet long. These wooden stakes will simply be placed a few inches into the ground, to mark off the corners of your rectangular area where your garden will be located.
The next thing you need is a medium to large spade. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a shovel and a spade are the same thing. While a shovel has a rounded bottom, a spade has a squared-off bottom. Additionally, a spade should have foot rests that will allow you to push it down into the soil, by applying pressure with your feet downward on the spade’s foot rests. When selecting a spade, make sure that you buy one that has a sharp edge. Many spades have a dull edge, but you need one with a sharp edge, so that you can easily cut through the sod, when you’re digging out the area for your garden.
The next piece of equipment you need is a garden fork, with 3-4 tines. Make sure that the tines are spaced at least three inches apart. On some garden forks, the tines are too close together. You need a garden fork where the tines are further apart from one another, because this tool is used to turn the dirt and break it up. If the tines are too close together, the dirt and sod will get stuck in between the tines, making this step more difficult than it should be.
If you don’t want to go through the more laborious process of using a spade and a garden fork to remove the sod, turn up the dirt, and break it up, there’s a second, easier method for starting a garden. In this alternative method, you won’t have to break up the ground. Many gardeners refer to this easier method as “lasagna” or “layering”. In this method, you are not removing the sod from the ground at all. Instead, you will be placing items such as grass clippings, leaves, and straw right on top of the grass. These items will naturally break down your sod and turn it into the essential organic matter and rich soil that is needed for your garden. Once you’ve done this, you can literally just plant your seeds, without needing to turn the soil at all.
To sum up, to start your organic gardening, what you need are 4 x wooden stakes, a large spade, a garden fork and a cool method to remove the sod.
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