Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Organic Gardening for Beginners

If you enjoyed Monday's article on growing your own food, we thought we'd continue the theme today by sharing some more tips on getting started with organic gardening. If this strikes your fancy, be sure to check out our Sustainable Gardening blog for ongoing info on this subject.

If you decide to grow herbs and vegetables in your own garden, then you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have not sprayed poisonous pesticides anywhere near them. You can eat your own home grown food without worrying about what has been done to it.

English: The aromatic herb garden, with exampl...
The aromatic herb garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In fact, herbs are some of the easiest things to grow, so we strongly recommend growing some herbs when you are starting out with gardening if you're a beginner. You can either put them in a sunny spot in the garden, or have them in containers outside, or even on the windowsill indoors. Most herbs are small enough for this, and you will not need to grow large quantities because you will only use a little in cooking. It is so rewarding to be able to taste your own home grown organic herbs in the delicious dishes that you prepare in your kitchen!

So what is the first thing to do when starting your own organic garden? You will need to prepare a small garden plot. You can do this by hand digging, with the use of a machine, or use the no-dig method. If the land that you are working with is overgrown and has never been used for a garden before, you will probably need to hire a machine. Otherwise, start small by digging a manageable area. Or, if you would like to try gardening without digging, try the lasagna gardening method. This is pretty easy for beginners, and you can use it in areas that have never been gardened before.

Then you can start planting. Be sure to choose correct plants for the season. Whatever time of year it is, in most areas you can find something that can be planted right now. Choose plants whose colors or fruits you will enjoy, and don't plant them too close together.

If you have just moved to a house that already has a garden, the first thing that you should do is try to identify all the plants that are there already. You can draw a plan of your garden and write down all of the names. If you have a wireless internet connection, the easiest way to identify the plants is probably to take your laptop into the garden and call up some pictures of popular garden plants and weeds. Then you can pull out anything that is obviously a weed.

IMGP0854 - vege garden
(Photo credit: RaeAllen)
The first year in your new garden, you may want to wait and see what comes up. Don't start pulling leaves as soon as you see a weed, but wait until it is large enough that you can be sure what it is. If the land has been cultivated before, there may be some valuable self-seeding annuals that will surprise you!

Of course, if you simply avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers then technically your garden will not be organic. For that, you would need to use organic seeds too. These are available from many online suppliers. But if you can't find them, don't worry about it too much - most of what matters is what is in your soil, and what you put in the garden yourself which the plants will absorb.

Gardening is a wonderful activity that keeps you fit, makes your home more beautiful and brings an aspect of your life into harmony with nature. Gardening for beginners the organic way can be one of the most rewarding hobbies that you could imagine.

And if you're wondering about growing other foods yourself, besides vegetables and herbs in the garden, be sure to check back next week when we're going to discuss raising your own chickens!
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