A vegetable garden is a great place to grow your own produce, to spend time in the outdoors, and connect with nature. An organic garden is grown using natural gardening methods and is a great way to reduce the levels of chemical pesticides that are applied to your garden.
In particular, there are four elements that make an organic garden different from a traditional one:
- organic matter (e.g., compost),
- living organisms in the soil
- crop rotation or other diversity within the garden
- natural pest management techniques such as biological pest control or physical barriers. This can lead to increased fertility of the soil and better tasting vegetables with higher nutritional value.
Whether you are an experienced gardener or just trying gardening for the first time, having a corner of your yard devoted to vegetables is an excellent way to add healthy foods and organic ingredients into your diet.
This post will provide extensive information about what is an organic vegetable garden as well as recommended tools, resources, and seeds for you to get started on your journey.
Although there are many factors to consider when planning your organic vegetable plot, you want to start by taking inventory of what you already have and what you need. If you have little space available, then a container garden is a great way to get started. If you have the space, then remember that shade-loving plants such as tomatoes and peppers should be grown in containers or raised beds so that they get plenty of sunlight.
Remember that there are many options for growing your vegetables without using pesticides or fertilizers—the cleaner food you eat, the healthier you will be.
As far as tools go, the good news is that many can be used for multiple purposes within an organic garden.
- Prepare the soil (optional)
Before planting, you may want to allow the soil to dry out slightly first. This promotes better root health in your vegetables by preparing the soil for better drainage. However, if you do not want to wait, then you will have to go lightly when tilling or adding amendments (e.g., compost or manure) into the soil to avoid disturbing any worms or other tiny animals in the dirt.
- Buy organic vegetables
It is important to purchase organic versions of the seeds, fertilizer, and soil amendments as this is how you will ensure that they are grown in an environmentally safe way. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all your choices for crops and pesticides, then check out a local farm market to see what is available. You can also inquire about local farms that offer trial gardens.
- Design your garden
Once you have chosen your vegetables or veggie seeds, you will want to begin thinking about where to plant them and when to harvest so that you know when the vegetables will be ready for the market or use in your own kitchen. The tools for this come in many forms—you can use a garden map, computer spreadsheet, or online apps such as those available at GrowMap.com.
- Apply the right amount of nutrients (optional)
There are two options when it comes to applying fertilizer and other organic amendments to your garden: you can do it by hand or you can do it by machine. These are both viable options so if you have the time, energy, and patience to work outside, then by all means lend a hand! If not, there are many varieties of hand tools that will help with this process including trowels, forks and hoes to allow efficient soil moving as well as soils amendments (e.g. compost).
If you have a larger garden, then you will need to consider whether or not you should use a tiller. Tillers are designed for breaking up the soil and incorporating organic matter into the soil while also destroying any potential weeds or pests that might be lurking below. As they can also be used to cultivate (i.e., plant seeds) and harvest crops, they provide a convenient one-stop shop for your gardening needs, but as with all convenience comes cost—a tiller will run you about $500–$3,000! This is certainly an expense that may not fit comfortably into your budget but it is something to consider if you have the space and money available.
- Manage pests organically
As with all organic gardening, this means being proactive rather than reactive. Many of the weeds and pests are common sense—avoid them by removing them before they spread their seeds or reproduce! You can also combat any pests that do manage to start crawling around in your soil by hand picking (e.g., aphids) or applying a safe, natural repellant, such as cayenne pepper.
Once the vegetables are ready for harvesting, you will want to use the right tools to help you get the most out of every plant. Several garden tools can be used for multiple purposes—for example, a hoe can be used for weeding as well as breaking up soil. The key is looking at how each tool was designed and seeing how it can best contribute to your organic gardening efforts!
- Stay on top of watering (optional)
By watering your crops regularly, you will promote healthy root development in addition to keeping them safe and happy until harvest time! Just remember not to overwater your vegetables or they could brown and die due to too much moisture. If you have a large garden, then it is possible to automate this part of the process by setting up a drip irrigation system.
In addition to watering and harvesting, you will also want to make sure that you are keeping an eye on your garden—there are several different ways that you can do this! You can plant sensors in the soil around your garden and regularly check on their readings or you can use a spreadsheet on your computer that monitors moisture and temperature around your plot.
- Do it again next season and the season after!
With this basic, organic gardening tutorial under your belt, you can now apply it to any future seasons in which you would like to grow your own food. Just remember that fall and winter are prime times for planning as they allow space for growth and development of new ideas—as well as providing opportunity to pull together all of the resources necessary to make this a reality!
There are individuals who garden organically because they want to avoid the use of chemicals or pesticides which may be harmful or from genetically modified sources. Other reasons for choosing organic gardening include a desire to reduce negative environmental impacts, the desire to avoid food production that is dependent on heavy machinery, or because it is perceived as healthier and more sustainable.