My better half has been pretty busy this season, trying to grow organic foods at the little but promising organic garden that he has been maintaining at the backyard of our house. And I must say he is doing pretty well, by devoting a sizeable amount of time. I also help him in this, but he does all the major activities, making sure that it ‘performs; pretty well. It is doing so. Hence, for those who would like to follow the same footsteps, it’s high time you start something similar. One word of caution! While on one hand organic gardening helps preserve the environmental balance by keeping all the pesticides and toxic materials at bay, it might be at times pretty expensive. Still, the expenses notwithstanding there is that ecstasy of growing your very own, fresh, non toxic produces, which will help you remain fresh and clean at the end of the day!
Do you know where to start? Let me be very clear about it. Firstly, you need to start it in a miniscule scale – may be with just one or two types of plants, and that also in very small numbers. Remember – organic gardening means you are not using any synthetic pesticide or fertilizer, though that does not mean that you will not give any nourishment to your plants, and just leave them to fend for themselves. Organic gardening means you are trying to grow plants in a more holistic way, keeping in mind the demands of natural ecosystem, and maintaining them.
This is the first and foremost step of setting up an organic garden. In order to make sure you get the best results, you need to guarantee that the soil is conditioned perfectly. Since the produces that you are expecting to grow are edible you need to make sure that you have the best produces. That is only possible when you feed the plants with the best nutrients. Only a good healthy soil will help strong and productive plants to grow seamlessly. Chemical treatment of soils will not only seep the food, but will also be harmful for the worms and microbes and the beneficial bacteria.
That is the reason; the best way in which you can evaluate the quality of the soil is by getting it tested thoroughly. You can either bestow the responsibility to professional soil testers, or you can get your own testing kit, get the soil sample collected and tested, or you can send the sample to the concerned department. They will not only deliver the results to you, but will instruct you how to produce and if needed, enhance the quality of the soil. For the best results, I would advise you to have the test conducted by the fall, and apply the organic nutrients, if needed by the winter. I have seen my hubby doing so.
Making a good compost
Once you have had the soil tested and have added nutrients, it is time to make good compost. It is the compost that will make all the difference, by feeding the plants, conserving the water, cutting down on the weeds and unwanted shrubs, and keeping at bay the yard and food wastes. Instead, it will turn all the garbage into organic fertilizer.
Choosing the right plants
Then the time to choose the right plants comes. You need to select plants, which will grow and prosper in your customized micro-conditions. This will depend upon the locality of your residence, and the general nature of the region where you hail from. You need to opt for plants that will be suitable in the climate prevailing in your region. You need to consider the amount of sunlight available, the amount of rain, moisture, temperature, humidity, drainage and the quality of the soil.
This is another extremely important aspect of organic gardening. You need to chalk out a plan that you need to follow while watering. There needs to be a specific pattern of watering – a pattern that your plants will gradually get used to, and it is wise not to disturb that pattern. For instance, it is better to water plants in the morning. This is because the mornings are cooler and generally without any strong wind whatsoever. That is why the amount of water that is lost due to evaporation can be kept at minimal.
Refrain from watering plants in the evenings. If you do so, it will leave them moist and damp overnight, allowing the fungus and bacterial diseases to accumulate and infest, thereby severely damaging the plants. Water the roots, but not the leaves and branches and twigs. Direct water contact can damage them easily. Carefully water the roots and the bases of the plants manually.
Keeping the plants healthy without pesticides
In case you find that the plants have gotten infected by pests, do not panic. Since you are not going to use any pesticide, you need to make sure they are receiving enough light, proper and adequate amounts of nutrients, as well as the right volume of moisture. You need to make sure that you maintain a diverse garden, as it will help prevent the pests by restricting the amount of a definite type of plant, and giving the concept of biodiversity a fillip.
So these are the steps that you need to maintain in order to set up an organic garden that is very much yours. Now after everything, you need to harvest the produces and go for a thorough clean up at the end of the season. That’s another story though! I will come back later with them!