How to start an organic garden with printable garden journal
Start a successful organic garden this growing season with this how-to information.
The trend to go organic with everything we eat and purchase has increased dramatically over the past few years. Combine that trend with a sluggish economy, and it has produced a new generation of gardeners. Gardeners who want to be totally organic, as well as beginning gardeners who want to grow vegetables and fruits in an organic garden but are unsure of how to start. This article will give the basic how-to's for starting organic and success secrets that even veteran organic gardeners can use.
Choose The Right Location
Garden vegetables and fruits need proper sunlight and moisture without competition from surrounding trees and shrubs. Choose a location in your landscape that will receive at least six hours of direct sun each day and is close to a water source. The proper location is essential for plant growth, whether the organic garden is in-ground or in a container garden.
Test The Garden Soil
Testing the garden soil lets a gardener know what to amend the soil with to make it the optimum growing medium for plants.
An inexpensive soil testing kit can be purchased at any garden supply center or take a soil sample to the local county extension office for testing.
Soil Amendment And Preparation
Amend the garden soil by adding whatever the soil test revealed is lacking and till in those amendments plus organic matter into the garden soil to the depth of at least 12 inches.
Adding organic matter to the garden soil can change even the poorest soil into nutrient-rich garden soil that will organically nourish garden plants and help prevent garden pest infestation without the use of chemicals.
Organic garden supplies for soil amendment can be made at home, like compost and ashes from wood heaters, or can be purchased from a garden supply center.
Companion planting will help grow a healthy, pest-free organic garden without using chemicals. Every garden vegetable and fruit has a companion, which simply means each plant provides a service that another plant species needs.
For example, when oregano is planted near tomato plants, the oregano adds flavor to the developing tomatoes and keeps pests away. Corn and beans make good organic garden companion plants. Marigolds and nasturtiums help keep garden pests away and add nitrogen to garden soil and make perfect companion plants to almost all garden vegetables.
Once the organic garden is growing, regular maintenance will be needed to prevent problems. Maintain the garden by regularly pulling weeds, picking off insects before they have a chance to lay eggs, feeding, and watering.
Add a couple of inches of organic mulch on the garden soil surface to keep weeds at bay and conserve garden soil moisture. Organic mulch can be compost, shredded leaves, grass clipping, or newspaper.
Insects can be removed from garden plants by hand-picking or with a blast of water from the garden hose.
Feeding and watering your organic garden can be done in one step by making compost tea or cow manure tea. Make the tea by adding a small scoop of compost or cow manure to a bucket of rainwater and allow to steep overnight, then use the tea to feed and water the organic garden.
In the right location, nutrient-rich soil, and with regular maintenance, an organic garden will produce a bountiful crop of fresh vegetables and fruit the first year it's planted.
From pest outbreaks to successful harvests, learn how to organize your garden story and record garden ideas in your organic garden diary.
When you watch the Tour de France on television, you may wonder how the announcers keep up their conversational pace. One might imagine after several days; the commentator would be reduced to remarking, “…and he’s still pedaling, folks. Look at that man pedal.” In reality, the insights and witticisms of these professionals never grow stale.
The organic gardener faces a similar challenge in creating a dynamic garden journal. After all, a useful journal must impart more than the observation, “The sun is still shining; the plants continue to grow.” A well-kept garden journal serves as a learning tool for best practices in your organic garden.
By keeping a detailed record of your weather in your garden journal, you can determine what kinds of microclimates are affecting your growing conditions. Although you can easily determine your hardiness zone by consulting a USDA map, your property’s elevation and exposure may increase or reduce your plants’ hardiness. Note minimum and maximum temperatures in your plot each day, so you can pinpoint the best time to plant heat-loving vegetables in your garden. Include a record of soil temperature in your weather notation.
If you’ve ever read a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, you might be curious about the efficacy of lunar gardening. By following the moon’s phases, you can determine when to plant root crops and above-ground crops, when to control pests, when to transplant, and when to plant flowers.
The logic behind lunar gardening lies in the way the waxing and waning moon affects moisture content in the soil and mineral content in the air. Some gardeners argue that superstition guides lunar gardening and others claim that gardening by the moon phases has a firm scientific basis. Draw your own conclusions by charting the moon phases in your garden journal and practicing lunar planting methods.
You must include a description of pest problems in your organic garden journal. This can help you learn which plants are the most pest-resistant and which organic pest treatments are the most effective. Record the garden conditions that seem to encourage pest outbreaks. These notes will help you plan the best companion planting and crop rotation methods to control garden pests.
A few snapshots taken throughout the growing season make the garden journal a pleasure to review when your plot lies fallow in the winter. Take a picture at the end of winter, when the structural elements of your landscape are exposed. Take a picture of your seedlings when you’ve just planted them, and contrast this with a picture of the garden at the height of its summer glory. Review these photos the following season to remind yourself not to overcrowd your plants.
Include some sketches that detail the garden of your dreams. Ambitious gardeners always want to find room for one more new plant introduction, and it’s easier to plan this on paper before you break new ground.