Many readers have expressed interest in creating their own organic garden in their own backyard. As a result, I wanted to share a few tips for starting a backyard garden that is organic, sustainable and earth-friendly.
There are numerous benefits to planting your own organic garden at home. It enables you to eat the freshest fruits, herbs, and vegetable. At the same time, you act to help reduce the amount of pesticides and toxins in the environment. As organic produce can be costly in the supermarket, growing your own delicious organic produce at home can also save money.
Gardening Tip #1 – Plan
Plan your garden before planting your crops, it’ll help you reap the best harvest possible. Make a decision on what fruits, herbs, and vegetables grow best in your area and find local sources that sell organic seeds.
Decide how much space you can use for your garden and what the budget will be. For smaller yards, a container garden works well. You can also make a small herb garden with pots and boxes. By planning you can coordinate what plants grow in the spring, fall, winter and summer to create a year long harvest.
Gardening Tip #2 – Less is More
It may seem like a good idea to plant every edible plant that you love to eat… but it may be better to start with a small, manageable garden in the beginning. If you plant too many of one plant, you may find yourself selling tomato sauce to all of your neighbors this summer. Start small and expand each season. Experiment with various plants and find what grows best. City dwellers can easily create a small rooftop or balcony garden consisting of pots and raised beds. You can also grow indoors or in a greenhouse during the winter months. For indoor growing, I use the aero garden which works pretty well.
Gardening Tip #3 – Choose Productive Plants
Choose plants that grow well in your climate and geography. Think locally. Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to plant avocados in Maine.
Also, some plants may grow well but have different economics. Corn, for example, is cheap but is labor intensive. Berries, on the other hand, are quite expensive in grocery stores and are labor free. They require little money or time to cultivate!
Gardening Tip #4 – Share and Barter
If you buy a large packet of seeds and have extras, share with your friends and neighbors. You can also do the same with gardening equipment. By planning and sharing, you can reduce the costs of buying heavy equipment on your own, a process that helps keep overall costs down.
Gardening Tip #5 – Go Organic With Your supplies
Organic seeds can be bought locally or by mail order. Do not use chemical pesticides, herbicides, or any other synthetic chemicals.
There are many natural products for treating weeds, diseases, pests, and soil issues. These natural products are much safer and better for the environment.
Be sure your planting area will not be contaminated with lawn fertilizer or other chemicals. Try to find organic soil and compost or make your own compost by recycling your food waste.
Gardening Tip #6 – Complement Your Plants
Research traditional methods of natural gardening to grow plants that complement one another such as permaculture. Beans and squash grow well together, so do potatoes and corn. Complementary growing helps soil nutrients and overall plant success.
Gardening Tip #7 – Have Fun!
Gardening can be an incredibly grounding family affair. Remember, no garden is perfect. Choose some of your favorite plants and enjoy watching their process of growth.
What is Organic Soil?
Organic soil has been naturally amended by the decomposition of plants and animals and unfortunately, today, most of the soil in the world has been depleted by agribusiness. Farmers who produce certified organic produce must first develop soil that meets the criteria of the USDA. This requires them to amend previously depleted soil with essential organic compounds with the intent of restoring soil with the original richness our planet previously enjoyed prior to the damage caused by modern day industrialization.
How Effective is Organic Soil?
Organic soil is better able to cultivate plants than non-organic agribusiness soil. Organic soil also has a composition that provides some mechanical benefit to as the organic amendment improves soil drainage and makes the soil less apt to “pack” so it breaks up easily for planting. Organic amendment greatly increases soil nutrient content and the soil becomes much more resistant to a pathogenic invasion that can harm plant life. Healthy soil develops a powerful mycelial layer that works to detoxify the land from pesticides and chemicals.
Research shows soil with higher levels of decomposing organic matter deters pest infestations. Not only do organic farmers avoid using pesticides; they actually do not need them the same way conventional farmers do because the richness of the soil actually provides a sort of natural protection for plants. Crops grown in organic soil contain higher levels of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. Organic farming often uses 50 percent less of the total amount of energy to operate than the mechanized, chemically oriented methods of agribusiness.
Simply put, organic farming in nutrient-rich, organic soil is as good for the environment as it is for the consumer.
Organic Farmers May be Using Contaminated Water
You have to watch for this. As of yet, the USDA does not regulate water quality used in organic farming. This means that some farmers can, and do, use municipal water sources to cultivate their crops. Many of these sources contain dangerous contaminants that go right back into the amended soil and straight to the core of the plants you eat.
Discovering if your vegetables were grown with municipal water requires some effort on your part, you will need to locate and contact the farm and ask them yourself. Ask them if they are using well water or purified water to irrigate their organic soil. Also, ask if they have tested the water to make certain it is as healthy as the earth they grow your vegetables in. Conscientious farmers who love the earth and its people will answer these questions politely and directly.
Do not be afraid to ask, and find out the truth about your produce before you buy it.