Organic Gardening Basics

April 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Organic Gardening Tips

Organic Gardening Basics


Organic gardening is a method of gardening that doesn't uses any harmful chemicals. Organic gardening is much more healthy than "conventional" is, and is very popular today among gardeners. Growing an organic garden isn't difficult either.  It is my hope that the following tips will help you to get a start and also help you create and maintain a natural pesticide free and chemical free flower, herb or vegetable garden.

There are basically four essential elements to growing a successful organic garden.  One is mulching, two is pest control, third is fertilizers, and fourth is weed control.

Mulching

Mulching a garden helps to hold water, reduces weeds and adds essential nutrients back into the soil.  You can purchase organic mulch in most home centers, but my preference is not to use any ground overlay at all and to handle weed control by hand.  Having said that however, I DO like to use mulch between the plant boxes or rows to keep down on weeds.

 

Pests

One of the easiest ways to deal with pests in your organic garden, is to use a simple soap spray on your plants and then follow it with a clean rinse.  It works well and I use it all the time for nearly every type of infestation.  The one thing I found that it doesn't work particularly well on is vine borers.  For those, I watch the plants (squash and other thick vine plants) and when I see a leaf beginning to turn brown, I look at the vine and can always locate where the borer is at.  They are moth pupae which are laid on the vine and when the eggs hatch they bore in and eat their way up the vine.  All that is necessary to deal with them is to take a pocket knife and cut the vine open right where the green area meets the brown (because that's where the borer is at) and pop it out.   I usually just leave them on the ground because they cannot get back to the plant and will die and add nutrients back to the soil.  Another way to keep down on certain pests is to plant Marigolds along the edges of your plants.  They work well to keep down on some varieties of bugs.


Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizer, my preference is fish emulsion.  It can be found in any home center and makes for an excellent fertilizer.  It's sold in a concentrate, so you just add water and to the garden.  Be careful not to over fertilize because you can burn the plants.  If your plants require more acid, (you can test this with a simple ph test) you can use coffee grounds. They work wonders.. believe me.  Another thing that works well for fertilizer is to use plant rotation from year to year, or to plant a nitrogen fixing plant (such as peas) next to a plant that uses nitrogen.  This works especially well in high density gardens, such as Square Foot or French Intensive.

Weeds

Weeds can be treated with vinegar, but I've never done it.  I've always preferred getting into the garden and working, so I pull the weeds out that will come out (they are easiest to pull after a rain or watering) and for the one's that are stubborn, I just use my spade or some other tool to loosen the roots and then they will pull up easily.  After they are loose, it's usually a good idea to put them in the mulch pile, unless they have gone to seed.  Often a mulch pile will get hot enough to destroy the seeds, but I never wanted to take the chance, so on the rare occasion that one does began to go to seed I throw it away. 

Compost

Although I didn't add it to the list above, compost is also important for an organic garden to add essential nutrients. It can be made from almost anything you have on hand including ground up leftovers, leaves and grass.  You can get compost bins from home and garden centers, or you can easily build one.  I've seen them built out of everything from plywood to steel barrels.

And finally, if you want to plant herbs for organic cooking, they make a beautiful addition in the organic garden and don't need a lot of attention. 

Water Conservation For Everyone

February 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Organic Gardening Tips

Whether you live in a drought-influenced area, or you are simply looking for a way to reduce your water usage, you'll find that there are many things that you can try when it comes to preserving the water that you can find and using the water that you have conservatively and wisely. Water conservation is something that any green gardener should consider, and you'll find that doing so is actually a great deal more straightforward than you might think. The first thing that you can do when you want to consider water conservation is to think about a good water delivery system. There are several practical methods to get water to your garden, and you may be surprised to find that one of the best ones that you can use is a water can. A watering can will let you target each plant individually and to figure out how much water each plants gets; the directed spout will also let the water go right through to the roots. You may also wist to consider a soaker hose or drip irrigation. A soaker hose will sweat water through the pores of the hose, for the water to get to where it needs to go with virtually no evaporation. You can set them up with a timer and you can bury them under mulch, and once down there, they need very little maintenance. As a bonus, many soaker hoses are made from recycled tires. Drip irrigation will give you the most water efficiency, and they work by setting up a tube along the plants with a release point for each plant. When a plant doesn't need water, a plug can be installed and the tube itself can beset with a timer. Finally, you'll also want to think about where you can get the water from. While you'll always have a hose from your home, you'll find that you can effectively water your plants using water collected during the storms. You can simply install a basin underneath a gutter pour downspout, or you can use rain chains to direct water into a barrel or an underground holding tank. Do keep in mind that the container should be covered, and that the water collected should be used in ten days to avoid contamination or breeding mosquitoes. Take a look at the many ways that you can conserve water for your garden, and you'll find that there are plenty of options open to you!

Starting an Organic Garden

February 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Organic Gardening Tips

When you are looking to grow food for your family and loved ones, you already know that you want it to be healthy and nutritious, and one of the best ways to do this is to make sure that your garden is organic! Organic gardening not only allows you to grow food that is free of chemicals or additives, but it also promote ecological responsibility and has low impact consequences for the environment. If you are looking grow an organic garden, you'll find that there are plenty of tips to get you started. One of the best ways to get started with an organic garden is to get a hold of some heirloom seeds. You'll find that heirloom seeds are taken from plants that were once common in human history; as such, they have not been genetically modified and as a rule, they tend to be fairly tough. They are not hybrids, and there are around 4,000 varieties of seeds, so you'll be able to take your choice. When working with organic gardening, you'll find that it is always a good idea to consider the lay out of your garden. You'll find, for instance, that you can work with intensive intercropping, where you'll find that one crop is grown between rows of another; this will allow you to take full advantage of your gardening space, and reduce your water and composting requirements. You'll find that gardening boxes is another way to maximize your space. Organic gardening also implies that you will be free from the use of chemical pesticides and additives; this does not mean, however, that you are letting your garden run rampant with weeds and bugs! You'll find that by planting some flowers and herbs around your garden, you'll be strengthening its immunity to insects. Consider marigolds, mints and chives for a start. You'll also find that you can deter pests by rotating your crops annually. Any good organic garden needs a fair amount of planning, and the more you plan, the more prepared you are going to be. Take the time to consider what you can do to make sure that your organic garden continues to feed you and nourish you in the future!

Start Composting On Your Own

If you have seen the effects of composting on other gardens, or if you know that a compost heap can severely reduce your ecological footprint and save a great deal of space in the landfills, you already know that you are interested in putting one together, but you may be a little bit uncertain as to how to get started. A healthy and thriving compost heap is something that takes some time and effort to get rolling, but you’ll find that with a little bit of information that it is really quite straightforward!

The first thing that you need to do is to start thinking of things in terms of what can and cannot go into your compost pile. Brown materials include things like leaves and hay, but you’ll find that they also include clean shredded paper, cardboard rolls, dryer lint that hasn’t used dryer sheets, and shredded newspapers count as well. Green materials are things like grass clipping, vegetable leavings, tea bags, coffee grounds, manure and fruit trimmings. Green and brown materials can be used in your composting, while things like cat litter, colored paper, dairy products and greasy materials, should be kept away.

To make a traditional compost pile, you’ll need both green and brown materials, and you can put them into a pile that is roughly two to three feet square. You can also work with a compost bin, which will let you keep the pile more contained; some bins even give you the option of tumbling the compost to increase the heat reaction.

After you have your compost pile together, you should add a little bit of garden soil or a compost booster in order to help with the break down. You’ll find that this is something that you can do to get it started, but that you can also do it from time to time to keep things happening.

Make sure that your turn your compost pile several times a week to keep up the oxygen flow and to help things break down very quickly. You’ll also need to keep your compost pile a little damp, but not soaking wet; you’ll find that this will encourage a good breakdown of the components involved.

When you are considering composting, you’ll find that there are many things to consider, but you’ll find that with the information listed above, you can get yourself off to a great start!

Organic Care For Your Lawn!

February 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Organic Gardening Tips

If you are someone who has investment in your lawn looking good, you have probably seen plenty of chemical pesticides and additives that will allow your lawn to do just that, but what if you are interested in a green solution? The truth of the matter is that it is fairly simple to take care of your lawn in an organic way while sacrificing nothing when it comes to looks! When you are considering organic lawn care, start with the few basic steps listed below.

The first thing that you can do is to make sure that your mower is set as high as it should go. This should leave you with a clearance of about three to four instances. You may worry that if you cut it longer that you’ll have to mow more often, but you’ll find that this is actually completely untrue. The shorter you cut your lawn the faster it will grow; when grass is cut, it will use a lot of stored sugar to grow back, and you’ll find that this expenditure of energy will make it more vulnerable to pests.

The second thing that you can do to make sure that your lawn looks great and stays natural is to check the pH of the soil. You’ll find that there are plenty of services that will help you out with this, and this can help you head off problems before they start and give you a healthier lawn in general. If the pH is under 6.0, you can add lime, and if it is above 7.0, you can add gardener’s sulphur.

If you are looking for an all around good lawn and have plenty of time on your hands, consider the topsoil. Dig a spade into your ground at various points and find out how deep your layer of topsoil is. You’ll find that four inches is about the minimum you need for a passable lawn, while eight inches or more will give you good, strong growth above it.

Finally, remember that you should always use an organic fertilizer when your garden needs a little bit of help, especially in the fall and the spring, and that you should only water when your grass is showing some signs of drought. When you water, water deeply, and take the time to make sure that everything gets a good soaking.

As you can see, taking care of lawn can be still be eco-friendly, so see how you can get started!

The Many Benefits of Composting!

February 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Organic Fertillzers, Organic Gardening Tips

If you are someone who is looking for a chance to garden more responsibly as well as the opportunity to grow stunning produce, you’ll find that composting is something that you need to consider! Composting is essentially the use of decomposed organic matter to fertilized the soil, and you’ll find that this is something that is easy to add to a garden of any size. While you can of course have a compost pile in the garden, you can also have a smaller compost bin in the garage or sealed under the sink for a smaller garden. You’ll find that composting has many benefits, both to your own garden and that of the world at large.

Composting is a natural solution that looks to fight back against the problem of landfills. When so much waste can be returned to the soil and go on to enrich it, the act of putting organic matter in a landfill can be considered quite wasteful.

You’ll also find that when you compost, you are adding something back to the soil. When organic matter breaks down, it will release valuable nutrients and bacteria back into the soil. In this way, you can greatly enrich your gardening, landscaping and any plant life that you are looking to nurture. Another further benefit is that the compost is entirely natural and there are no further chemical consequences, the way there would be if a chemical or artificial fertilizer is used. When you add compost to the soil, you are improving the soil’s structure and fertility; you will also find that you can increase it’s ability to hold water.

You should also keep in mind the fact that composting is a process that puts you squarely in the thick of things when it comes to the cycle of the earth and land. With composting, you can realize that the act of conservation and ecological stewardship is something that is very hands on, and that you are very much a part of it. This is an excellent lesson for children, especially, to learn, and you’ll find that they will have a significantly improved understanding of their place in the world when they can see this process up close.

Composting is an important step for gardeners to make, and once you have your composting project started, you’ll find that there are many, many reasons to keep it going. Take the time to see what composting can do for you, and you’ll find out first hand why so many people have turned to this natural alternative.

5 Ways to Protect Your Organic Garden From Pests

If you are familiar with gardening, or even if you aren’t, you already know that pests can destroy a season’s worth of work if left unchecked. While you might be at a bit of a loss when it comes to making sure that your stays healthy while not using chemical products, you’ll find that with a little bit of research, nothing could be easier! Check out a few of the great ways to protect your garden from pests while still keeping organic.

1.Garlic
Garlic is great for a number of different pests, and it’s easy to use, as well. All you need to do is to start with 3 ounces of finely chopped garlic and mix it with two teaspoons of mineral oil. After a 24 hour soak, you can add it to one pint of water and ΒΌ n ounce of dish soap. This is a great all-purpose insect spray, and when you go to use it, all you need to do is to take about tablespoon of this mixture and mix it with a pint of water. Test the mixture on some lower leaves to make sure that you have not made it strong, but this can be a great way to fight really persistent pests.

2.Weed Regularly
We already know that weeds can choke out the desirable plants, but keep in mind that they can also play host to a number of undesirable pests as well! Make sure that your rows stay clear of weeds and also of debris, where insects can nest. When you have finished the weeding, make sure that you put the refuse at some distance away from your garden, to make sure that the pests that you have cleared out don’t return.

3.Milk
Milk is good for you, and great for your garden. When you mix one part milk to nine parts water, you can spray the mixture every week or so to prevent things like powdery mildew. Use it whenever you see black spots on your vegetables or your roses.

4.Composite Flowers
Not only will these flowers be a great and colorful addition to your garden, you’ll find that they’ll attract the useful insects as well. Ladybugs and lacewings are both attracted to these flowers and you’ll find that they can help reduce pests a great deal. For some great composite flowers to add, look at yarrow, chicory, chrysanthemums ad dahlias.

5.Newspapers and Cardboard
Use newspapers and cardboard layered on top of your weeds to suffocate them by keeping them away from the light and the water. If you do this in the fall, your garden will have a great weed-free start in the spring.