How to Grow an Organic Garden

by Marcy on April 28, 2014 · 0 comments

How to Grow an Organic Garden

This is a guest post written by Kristi. Note from Marcy: My husband is the gardener in the family, and this is our first year buying all heirloom seeds. We have two raised/square foot garden beds and make use of our flower beds for our fruit and vegetable gardening. We also collect rainwater in a barrel to supplement our watering. I hope to share more about our own gardens as the summer progresses.

Having a garden that is organic means that everything in it is free of synthetic insecticides and pesticides. Gardeners have been growing organically for hundreds of years, and it wasn’t until the last 75 years that non-organic ways were brought into mainstream gardening and farming. One key concept to realize is that for every bad pest there is a good one, and that a garden should have an ebb and flow, plus be symbiotic with nature. Learning how to grow an organic garden is easy once you learn a few key steps.

Organic fertilizers are a plant’s best friend, and the biggest benefit of using organic fertilizers is that the plant can only uptake the nutrients it needs at that moment and not a drop more. With synthetic fertilizers, if you accidentally give the plant too much it can burn the plant’s roots and leaves. When looking at the fertilizer bag, if it says anything similar to 10-10-10 or 10-15-10 then you know it is synthetic. Natural fertilizers won’t come in perfect combinations of nutrients, but are closer to something like 4-12-0 or 13-1-0. These three numbers represent the amount of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) or NPK in the bag. Nitrogen is used by the plant’s leaves, Phosphorus helps the plants roots to grow and promotes flower and fruit production, and Potassium helps the plant to withstand environmental conditions like drought, heat, or cold.

An organic garden starts with having certified organic seeds or transplants that have been grown from organic seeds. In addition, the nursery that has been growing the transplants needs to follow the organic guidelines as well. One of my favorite seed sources is Seeds of Change which only has organic and heirloom seeds and a great history of giving back to the environment and community.

Many people choose to use raised beds for their organic gardens. Make sure to buy pesticide-free untreated wood or the chemicals in the treated wood will leach into your garden. Old railroad ties are often made with chemically treated wood so don’t use those when building your organic garden.

Instead of using pesticides in the garden, use plants that deter pests or use a homemade insecticide soap. The best plants to have in the garden to naturally deter unwanted insects or critters are marigolds, onion, or garlic chives. If you live in an area with gophers or other ground mammals, plant gopher purge throughout your garden. If you are growing anything in the squash family like cucumbers or pumpkins, plant Nasturtiums which attract all sorts of pests to their leaves and peppery flowers. A healthy garden has both good and bad insects and giving them an area that they can eat helps to nurture that symbiotic relationship needed in your garden. If the pests are on the Nasturtiums then that means they are leaving your squash plants alone.

If you can do rainwater harvesting, this is the last step in a truly organic garden. Rainwater has essential minerals that is lacking in regular tap water. Harvesting rainwater and then using that in your garden is the perfect way to water your organic garden. You can see examples of rainwater barrels here, or google “DIY rain barrel” for do it yourself ideas.

I hope that you enjoyed this article! Do you grow organic produce on your own? I would love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments section below.

Find more Gardening Articles here. Find DIY Articles here.

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