Tips to start an organic garden
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Tips to start an organic garden

10 Jul 2023 0 Comments

 

Our grandparents grew "organic" without even using the word. Organic gardening adds years to your life, and life to your years!

If you've been thinking of ditching the chemicals and going organic, this is the year to do it! There are many good reasons to grow an organic garden, but health tops the list.

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden (or perhaps even a plant) before in your life, there are a few organic gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started.

Don't know where to start? It is possible to hire someone to install and maintain a beautiful organic garden for you, but most of us can roll up our sleeves with a surprisingly low amount of effort. Remember, you can start small, even with just a single plant or two. Don't worry if things aren't perfect right away. Will you be a world-class gardener right away? Probably not. Even the most experienced green thumbs experience crop failures and bad seasons. But with a bit of foundational knowledge and a willingness to try, you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a skilled home gardener and enjoying bountiful harvests year after year.

Sounds good? Alright. Let’s begin, green and brown thumbs!

Know your Garden Zone

One of the first things you should know before you even buy plants/seeds or start planning your garden is what garden zone you live in. Garden zones are based on region and climate and help to determine which plants will survive and thrive best in each zone. So knowing what garden zone you live in will help you to select plant varieties that will grow in your area. Knowing your garden zone will also help you determine your average first and last frost dates which will subsequently help you plan when to plant what in your garden. For an example if you live in areas that tend to get colder, like Himachal, your garden zone is essentially Western Himalayan. On the other hand, the western coastal areas of Maharashtra, Goa Karnataka and Kerala, to be precise - the western ghats, fall under West Coast Plains and Hills zone! In this way, you can determine the zone in which you live and eventually figure out which plants will thrive in the temperature, humidity, and other climate segments of your zone. 

Understand What Organic Gardening Really Means

If you’re aiming to be an organic gardener, you should understand exactly what that means, including what practices are acceptable and what you should never do if you want to truly go organic. Organic gardening means you won't use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, but that doesn't mean your plants fend for themselves. So, what should you do if you want to be an organic gardener?

  • Choose organic, untreated seeds and plants
  • Use natural fertilizers (homemade compost is an excellent option)
  • Be careful not to add non-organic items to your garden or compost pile
  • Keep your garden as sheltered as possible from neighbors who use chemical sprays on their garden as this can travel through the air to your own garden. 

Of course, it might be difficult to control everything that’s floating in the air, but focus on the things you can control and rest assured, do everything in your power to go as organic as possible. There are a number of ways to screen your garden depending upon the space and budget, like natural boundaries with deciduous trees and bamboo screens, or use a canopy or fabric shade can do the work for you!

Also, attracting pollinators to your garden is a wonderful all-natural way to increase your yields and create a healthy ecosystem. Plant wildflowers or other brightly colored flowers to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Hang a hummingbird feeder. Perhaps even consider purchasing Mason bees or building a bee hotel! Pollinators are essential to healthy crop production. Do your best to attract them rather than deter them.

Getting Started

Now that you have some basic knowledge under your belt, it’s time to actually start planning your garden. 

Planning Your Garden

Depending on the size and scale of your garden (pro tip: start small if it’s only your first year, even if you have the space), you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be planting in the ground, in raised beds, or containers. If you will be doing any container gardening, be sure to source the right type, size, and quantity you’ll need to get started. If you decide to do in-ground or raised beds, you’ll either need to plan your garden to the size of the beds that already exist or plan to build new beds to your desired size. Either way, write down the dimensions you will be working with before you start planning what will go in the soil.

Planning and choosing your plants

While planning what you may want to plant, keep in mind that it goes with the climate of the region you live in. Also, note what companion plants grow well together and which one does not. 

You’ll need to decide whether you will be starting all of your plants from seed or buying starts (established seedlings) from your local garden store or farmers market. You may choose to purchase a combination.

If you start your seeds indoors, be sure to harden them off for a few days before putting them outside for good. This just means you need to introduce them to the outdoors slowly so as not to shock them with the temperature difference. First, put them outside for a few hours in the daytime and then bring them back in. Then put them outside for a few hours longer. Then put them outside for a full day and then overnight. Then finally, transplant them outdoors.

If you directly sow your seeds, either be sure to space them far enough apart or thin out the seedlings once they start growing to give each plant enough room to grow.

Plant your starts and start your seeds. You’re well on your way now!

Preparing The Soil

You need to nourish your soil properly before planting your organic garden to get the best results. Just like humans, plants have to eat, so make sure your green buddies get lots of fresh nutrients. Plants thrive in healthy soil. The use of chemical soil treatments can not only harm your food, but they can also harm beneficial bacteria, worms, and other microbes in the soil. You can also choose IFFCO Urban Gardens’ Magic Soil, which is an all purpose potting soil, rich in bio-available macro and micro nutrients!

Maintaining Your Garden

We all know plants need adequate light and water, so decide how you will give your plants both. If you are planting directly outdoors, you won’t have to worry about light, but you will need to make sure your garden gets enough water. If you have a small garden, you can water it by hand. But a very large garden is more easily maintained with a drip irrigation system. What you decide on will depend on the size of your garden as well as the money and time you have to invest in it right now. 

Be sure to give your plants adequate water, but don’t overwater either. Make sure the soil is well-drained. In-ground and raised bed gardens tend to need more water than containers as containers hold more moisture.

As well as water and sunlight, you will need to “feed” your garden from time to time. You can do this with store-bought organic plant foods from IFFCO Urban Gardens like Green Diet. Kitchen scraps, manure, coffee grounds and egg shells give ample amount of nutrients to the plants!

Weed & Pest Control

Ugh. Weeds and pests. The nemeses of every gardener everywhere. These are two not-so-pleasant side effects of gardening that you will inevitably have to deal with at some point, but the Doctor Series by IFFCO Urban Gardens will make sure to lift these weights from your shoulders! Use of companion plants will deter pests as well. Also, encourage natural pest eaters like ladybirds. Don’t give weeds the chance to see the light. Mulch benefits plants by keeping the soil cool and moist and depriving weeds of light. 

Dealing With Weeds

When it comes to weeds, you can lay down landscape fabric and/or mulch to help suppress them in the first place.

Short of that, you’re pretty much stuck with hand weeding. It sucks, but it’s a part of gardening and it can be quite therapeutic once you get in the flow! 

So you’ve successfully made it through the gardening season and have some beautiful plants and produce to show for it. Hooray! Now what? Watch your self-grown organic garden thrive and dance. There’s nothing worth having without driving down tears and sweat!

After all, once you start dreaming about gardening or get giddy when your garden starts to bloom, that is the true marker that you’ve officially earned your status as a home gardener. All the rest will come with time. Happy gardening, green-buds! 


 

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