It’s easier to know what’s in your food when you make the food. With all the crazy stuff out there about GMOs and crazy pesticides, along with the insane increase in the cost of food in general we can understand why you would want to start an Organic Garden on your own. Organic gardening can be an engaging and rewarding activity. We want to help you make sure you get off to the right start from the start of your organic vegetable garden. We will help you answer questions like, What tools do you need? Where are you planning to plant & grow your plants? Do you have an idea of how you will deal with pests and diseases? We hope our how to guide helps you successfully establish and manage your organic vegetable garden.
Tools Required for Gardening
The worst thing on the planet is getting started on a project to then realize you don’t have all the tools you need to make it happen! Below we have created a list of some tools you may want to make sure you have to build and maintain your organic garden.
These hand pruners are also known as secateurs. Pruning shears help to ensure that plants grow effectively. There are several types of pruning shears but the most common ones are:
- Anvil pruners: they have a flat surface and a sharp blade. This type of garden tool also resembles a knife. An anvil pruner is ideal for cutting and removing dead pieces of wood. Besides that, you can use it to remove fresh and green stems or branches.
see them on Amazon
- Bypass pruners: they also have sharp blades that pass through a flat sharp-edged surface. A bypass pruner works like a scissor. It’s ideal for pruning live vegetable stems.
It’s a square-shaped short-handled shovel that’s considered to be a garden workhorse. A spade makes it easier to dig through the soil when you want to create holes for planting. Besides that, it’s also used for moving small mounds of dirt, lifting sod, and edging.
Due to its versatile nature, a spade can be expensive hence it’s important to always choose a product that offers value for money. So, the best spade to go for should have these design features:
- Treads on the blade: helps to give the spade a sturdier and stable foot surface when dealing with demanding tasks.
- Stainless steel head: provides lasting durability since it won’t rust.
- Average handle: a longer handle would definitely be good since it provides more leverage but this also makes the spade heavier.
It’s an essential tool for vegetable gardening that’s used to turn the soil. A garden fork can easily dig into a denser type of soil. It does a better job compared to a spade.
For effective results, it’s advisable to choose a garden fork with a slight curve on its spine. This will allow you to multitask by not only turning soil but also scooping the compost pile or mulch. Alternatively, you can choose a garden fork with a straight spine if you will be spending much time digging into compacted, rocky, or clay soil.
Of course, you are going to use a hoe often if you are going to plant vegetables in your garden. However, the type of hoe you choose usually depends on the type of your garden. A vegetable garden, for instance, needs a wide and sturdy hoe.
However, a thinner and delicate hoe would be the most ideal if you are into perennial gardening. Generally, hoes are used to prepare the garden right before you consider planting. Besides that, they are used to eliminate big types of weed with established root systems. When looking for a hoe for your garden, consider:
- A tool that has a comfortable handle.
- A sharp blade that’s easier to use.
- A durable tool that’s stable and with a long reach.
A good metal garden rake helps out a lot. Dead leaves and dirt will eventually accumulate in your garden over time. So, it’s best to consider buying a rake to help you keep your garden clean. Rakes are available in different sizes and styles to cater to different user needs. But for a vegetable garden, a standard leaf rake would be the most ideal. Just make sure that it’s stronger and can effectively reach narrow spaces.
A pair of gloves will help to protect your hands against thorns and dirt. Gardening can be fun and you can quickly find that your life now revolves around it. However, you need to protect your hands because you are going to use them most of the time. For the best experience, here is how you can choose the best gloves:
- It should perfectly fit your hands. The gloves shouldn’t be too tight because this will cause unnecessary pressure and discomfort. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be too loose as it can easily slip out.
- Durable and water-resistant glove fabric will ensure that you do your gardening tasks regardless of the environment. However, the pair of gloves should also be breathable in order to minimize the chances of sweating.
- Gloves with longer cuffs will help to protect your forearms and wrist from dirt and scratches.
Note: for lasting and safe use, always clean your gloves after using them. Store in a cool and dry place.
Sure getting the hose out is easy, but who really enjoys putting the thing up? If you are going to make sure you are watering your plants the way they need it in the beginning, you need to make sure you have a water can so you don’t have to drag your hose around the whole time.
Soil Testing Kit
Before you put the plants in the ground you want to make sure you give them the best chances from the start. So, make sure you test the soil to see what kind of nutrients may be missing. These are around $15 on amazon.
Plants love compost! And, you can make your own pretty easily, so get yourself a compost bin to get started. Once you get enough created you can spread it around your plants and they will appreciate you for it. You can get some that tumble so you don’t have to stir them up as much. The tumblers are normally around $86 on amazon.
How to Start an Organic Garden
If you are ready to become a gardener, then you need to prepare the gardening location, get the right resources, and understand ways you can use them to manage your plants. Basically, you should follow these steps:
Step 1: Pick the Right Location
Picking the right location for your garden is important. Understand that if you pick a bad location that means that your plants won’t thrive. Bad location and bad harvests go hand-in-hand. The best location that you can use to develop your organic garden should have the following properties:
- Moist and well-drained soil: this helps to ensure that your plants have access to the right nutrients as well as aeration. If the soil is poorly drained, this will lead to the formation of water pools which can easily make the roots rot. For improved drainage, consider using raised beds or raised rows.
- Sunny location: sunlight is important for the development of healthy foliage. If you are going to plant vegetables, then your plants will definitely need more access to sunlight. Generally, most vegetable varieties need around 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. Very few vegetable varieties are able to tolerate long hours of darkness or shade.
- Stable and protected environment: the environment can sometimes be unpredictable. Strong winds and falling branches are some of the things that can easily damage your plants. However, you can minimize the impact of these hazards if you consider a stable environment that’s protected. Avoid places where big tree branches are likely to fall or even create shade on the plant. Places that are also prominent to floods and foot traffic should be avoided at all costs.
Step 2: Consider the Type of Fertilizer
Fertilizer is important because it helps plants to grow faster by supplying them with essential nutrients. For an organic garden, starting with a healthy soil type matters.
Start with compost: this is the first step of preparing the soil for cultivation. Organic matter is important for your soil component. The process of composting usually involves components such as manure, compost, or peat moss. They have decayed microorganisms that will supply your plants with the nutrients they need. It should be noted that you can always create your compost. But if you don’t have the time, you can always buy.
Note: To reduce the growth of weeds, it’s usually advisable to spread 1 to 2 inches of mulch layer on your soil. This helps to create an effective barrier because the weeds will be prevented from getting enough sunlight hence they won’t germinant. Mulch should be applied around new plantings that have germinated.
Buy organic garden fertilizer: for your plants to grow bigger, faster, and yield more crops, get an organic fertilizer from your local farmer’s market. But if you have analyzed your soil and it’s clear that it’s already rich in nutrients, then you shouldn’t apply the garden fertilizer.
Step 3: Raise the Beds
Remove weed as well as grass from the location you want to create the raised beds. Elevated plots are the most suitable for vegetable gardening since they give you total control of the soil and this will definitely allow for the development of healthy plants. Plus, it helps make it harder for animals to get access to them. You don’t have to build them from scratch either. You can order different versions from Amazon.
Raise the beds into smaller portions that are easy to manage. This way, you don’t have to reach far or even step on the soil when planting or weeding.
Step 4: Choose the Right Plants
The most ideal plants are those that will thrive in your local micro-conditions. Each location has its micro-climate and this means that some plants may thrive while others may fail.
Generally, it’s advisable to always choose plants that easily adjust to each spot. This is in regards to the soil quality, moisture content, light supply, and the soil’s drainage system. If your plants can effectively adjust to these conditions based on climate and the surrounding environment, then you can definitely expect more harvests.
In case you choose to buy seedlings, choose those plants that have been raised organically without pesticides or chemicals. You can always find them at your local farmers’ market. This is also the best place to buy those native plant varieties that are designed for your local area.
Note: when buying seedlings, go for stocky ones with good root systems. They shouldn’t have bloomed yet and the root systems shouldn’t be overcrowded.
Step 5: Organic Garden Care
After planting your organic vegetable garden, it’s now the right time to manage your plants. Are they getting enough sunlight? Are weeds growing around them? Are they getting attacked by pests and disease? Management simply involves taking care of your plants so that they can yield the maximum possible harvests. Also, watering your organic garden is crucial to its production and survival. The best time to water a garden is in the morning. If you do so in the heat of the day you will harm your plants due to the heat warming up the water and if it’s hot enough essentially boiling the roots. So, early in the morning when it’s cooler is best.
Best Vegetables to Plant in an Organic Garden
It’s always advisable for beginners to start with vegetables that are easy to grow and manage but are still productive. The best vegetables to plant in an organic garden include:
- Root vegetables such as radishes, carrots, beets, and parsnips.
- Peas and beans
- Cucumbers, melons, and squash
- Spinach and kale
Note: when choosing vegetables for your garden, consider what you normally love to eat, what will thrive in your geographic zone, and the maintenance techniques required.
Protecting Your Plants without Pesticides
Pests will always try to attack your plants, especially if they are thriving. However, you can garden organically without pesticides. You can make your organic garden healthy without working extra hard or using extra money.
- Develop a healthy soil structure: The first step that will help to minimize pest attacks is by building healthy soil. If you create compost and apply mulch to your soil, then this will help to supply the soil with the beneficial creatures that will help to improve the soil structure. These creatures can store water for plants, supply them with nutrients, and protect them from pests and diseases.
- Consider the right site: again, your garden location matters not only when it comes to protecting your plants but also minimizing pest infestations.
- Consider the type of plants: there are certain plants that are insect- and disease-resistant. They are able to grow well in a wide range of conditions since they are not easily susceptible to infestations.
- Group your vegetables depending on their needs: when planting, always group your vegetables by their features or needs: those that need more water frequently should be on one side. Those that need more sun or nutrients, etc. should be on one side and so on.
- Smart watering: most infestations usually occur as a result of overwatering. To minimize this, always water your plants close to the root and avoid the leaves. Before watering them, always make sure that the soil surface is dry to avoid clogging it.
- Use organic controllers: certain plants can be used as organic controllers and they are actually good in minimizing the spread of diseases or deter pests. Plants that are effective in keeping bugs away include:
The Bottom Line
With the right tools, seedlings, and knowledge, you can start and effectively manage your organic vegetable garden. Just make sure that you prepare the garden in the right location and find an organic way to manage pests and diseases. Within a few months, you will be harvesting healthy and nutritious vegetables