I often get the impression that people are afraid to try organic gardening at home because they believe it is expensive. Actually, just the opposite is true. If done right, organic gardening can cost significantly less than traditional gardening. Plus, the environmental impact is lower.
Follow these 4 Major Organic Gardening Steps and and Watch Your Garden Blossom and Your Produce Bill Decrease.
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1. The Soil is Where It All Starts-It is the foundation of the whole garden and like the Bible says, you do not want to build it on “shifting sands”. In this case, you want to build the soil by taking the dirt where you live and adding to it. Compost is the workhorse of the organic garden.
And the most frugal way to go about things is to make your own compost. Growing up, I remember the homemade compost bin in our backyard and the super rich “garden growing goodness” it produced each year. (Maybe, just maybe, I also remember being sent out after supper many nights to put the table scraps in the compost bin.) The Eartheasy website offers an easy-to-follow guide to composting.
In the guide, you will find great information about what and how to compost. Also included are links to resources describing what other smaller soil amendments that you may need to add to your garden.
2. Careful Plant Selection Matters-Selecting the right mix of plants for your growing zone is critical. Luckily that is easier than ever with the extensive information that so many seed/plant companies offer on their websites. Also, county/parish agricultural offices can be a great resource.
Believe it or not, certain plants make for great partners and others just can’t seem to get along with each other. Kinda like us humans!
Putting good companion plants together can have lots of benefits. For example,some plants serve as nice insect repellents for other plants and/or do good things for the soil. Check out Burpee’s Companion Planting Guide for more details.
3. Mulch is a Must-One of the keys to weed control is ensuring you that have a good layer of mulch around your plants. Mulch also is great for conserving moisture, preventing soil erosion, and keeping soil temperature more uniform. Organic mulch materials can include things such as grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, and tree bark. For a full organic mulch materials list, check out the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service Page.
4. Thoughtful Weed, Disease and Insect Control is Key-As mentioned above, mulch is great tool in helping keep the weeds at bay. Getting to them before they spring up everywhere is definitely the way to go. Other non-chemical weed control tips include:
- Putting a layer of newspaper under your mulch. Besides been a great way to recycle, the newspaper will help smother weeds and still allow for water flow through to soil. The newspaper will decompose in place over time simply adding to the soil amendments.
- Using the sun to fry the weeds. In the later spring/summertime (depending where you live), put down a layer of plastic over an empty garden bed and leave for six weeks. The sun will literally cook the weeds and help sterilize the planting bed (Rodale’s Organic Life).
- If planting in spring, after prepping soil, let it sit for 7 to 10 days, and then use hoe on soil surface to break up new weed seedlings. Repeat if time permits (PlanTea).
- Hand pull weeds making sure to get the whole weed including roots out. A Softouch Weeder can be helpful with this.
When it comes to organic insect control, in addition to the companion planting mentioned earlier, there are a variety of other things that you can do. Some insects can actually be beneficial to gardening and, therefore, should be encouraged to take up residence in the garden. For example, ladybugs love to eat aphids, mites, and whiteflies. Praying mantises, besides being so fun to watch, love a whole smorgasbord of pesky garden pests.
Also for the more pesky garden dwellers, there are some easy, non environmentally toxic ways, to repeal them and nip plant diseases in the bud. EarthEasy offers a resource packed guide definitely worth exploring.
Why not make this year the year that you try your hand at organic gardening. You will not only be growing green in your yard, but your wallet, as well.
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