Making the switch to organic gardening is as much an act of will power as it is work. But the rewards — feeding your family vegetables, herbs and fruits untainted by pesticides, herbicides and the residues of chemical fertilizers — are priceless. Where do you begin?
First by making a commitment to growing organically. You must promise to learn as much about organic and sustainable practice as you can. This is really a lifelong process. But when you consider that a little organic knowledge (the basics) goes a long way and that the details bring you closer to perfection, you begin to understand how easy it is.
With the right gardening supplies growing organically is easy! Planet Natural has everything you need to get started: soil, seeds and fertilizer. Plus natural pest solutions that will guarantee you’ve created the healthiest vegetables, fruits and flowers possible. Let’s grow together!
Once you’ve made the commitment, it’s time to move on to the specifics. We’ve dealt with many of these issues in previous posts and you can consult them as you begin the transition. Here’s general guidelines to get you thinking.
— As Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser point out in their book Grow Organic: Over 250 Tips and Ideas for Growing Flowers, Veggies, Lawns and More For First- Timers and Old-Timers Alike (now that’s a title!), it’s best to start from the ground up. This means improving your soil, freeing it from its addiction to chemical fertilizers and healing it with plenty of organic matter. And that means compost.
Sure, after testing, you may find your soil needs bolstering with certain minerals and other components, especially in the early stages of transition. And you’ll want to make sure the pH level is perfect for the plants you’ll be growing. But soil building with organic material is an ongoing process that results in growing rewards as the seasons progress. Your goal? To make your soil come alive. Remember, the more microbial life in your soil, the less problems you’ll have with poor growth, disease and insects in the future.
— Plant carefully. Whether sowing seeds directly in your garden or setting out transplants, give your plants enough room. Crowded plants don’t grow as quickly and healthily when they’re forced to compete with other plants. Previously, you may have just poured more fertilizer to your crowded plants and hoped for the best. Often this resulted in disease and pest infestation which sent you for the sprays. Not any more. Also consider sunlight and watering needs. And don’t forget to utilize companion planting where you can. A well-planned garden is a well-grown garden.
— Deal with weeds as soon as you spot them. Get on all fours and weed that garden! Learn to prevent weeds with mulch.
The best known beneficial insect available! Live ladybugs from Planet Natural feed on aphids (40-50 per day) and a wide variety of other soft-bodied pests, mites and insect eggs. One half pint (4,500) will treat 2,500 square feet (50′ x 50′) of growing area.
— Learn and practice preventive measures. If you had trouble with mildew on your cucumber or squash vines in the past, hit them before fungus starts with a mild soap and baking soda solution and continuing spraying them every couple of weeks.
— Monitor your garden carefully, not just for bugs, but for moisture levels, the need for shade and other complications. Take care of problems as soon as spotted. Getting close to your garden, watching it carefully as it changes from day to day, is one of gardening’s great joys. And it’s the best way to guarantee success.
— Keep a journal. Make an entry every day or two. When did the tomatoes make a growth spurt? How deeply did you water and when did it rain? When did grasshoppers make an appearance? Were those ladybugs effective on aphids? And don’t forget aesthetics: Just how tasty were those homegrown tomatoes?
Converting your existing garden to an organic garden is something of an adventure. Remember: the most important step and the first to make after making the commitment, is to improve your soil. From there on, it’s not that hard; certainly no harder than conventional gardening. Converting to organic gardening is mostly a process of becoming a better, more knowledgeable, more effective gardener. And isn’t that what we all want?
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