Organic vegetable gardening is becoming more popular with each passing year, as home gardeners strive to grow gardens that are bountiful, healthy, and ecologically friendly. If you're looking to get started on your own home vegetable garden, we have created a list of exactly what you need to know!
Before you even think about picking up your tools, take your time to look around your backyard to find the right place for your new vegetable garden. Choosing the right plot will make a huge difference to your experience right from the start! First, you want to find a site that offers as much direct sunlight as possible (at least 6 hours, preferably 8). Next, check to see if the land slopes in that area. This can affect sun exposure so you'll want to orient your garden bed to take full advantage of sun coverage. If there are depressions in the plot where water collects, you will have to fill them in with good soil so it doesn't stay soggy. If you don't, these sites will take much longer to dry out in spring, and could result in rotted plant roots during the growing season.
If you live in a windy area, consider positioning your garden in a place that has a hedge, wall, or other structure nearby to reduce the effect of high winds. If you don't already have some type of windbreak in place you can easily put up strong trellises nearby to serve this purpose.
Check out the soil in your potential garden area. If it's rocky and full of tree roots you may want to consider building a raised vegetable garden. If you don't want to try that, you can go ahead and double-dig the existing soil to try and grow there. Either way, it's important to assess your existing soil to see what you need to do to make it perfect for growing organic vegetables. Luckily, this is an easy task! You can send samples of your soil to your local cooperative extension service for testing or, some garden centers and nurseries will offer soil testing services. This test will tell you which nutrients are deficient in your soil and what type of soil you have, as well as provide suggestions for how to improve your soil.
You'll want to look for organically-grown plants and seeds; conventionally-grown plants are often already loaded with pesticides and chemical fertilizers - which are exactly the types of things you're trying to avoid in your vegetable garden. Organically-produced seeds are harvested from organically-grown plants, which are never treated with chemical pesticides or fungicides. These can be bought online or through nurseries, garden centers, and big box stores where they are very clearly labelled as "organic".
Now that your garden is sited and the soil amended, and you've bought the organic plants and seeds, it's time to plant and tend your garden! Look up information on the types of vegetables you'll be growing to ensure that you're providing them with the right amount of water and nutrients. Be sure to pay close attention to your garden so that you catch pest and disease problems right away. The biggest part of growing a healthy garden is simply paying attention. If you do that, you're well on your way to a healthy, bountiful, organic vegetable garden.
Crop rotation can often be an overlooked part of the gardening process. Hopefully your first experience with your garden will be extremely rewarding and you will want to do it again for many years to come. However, if you plant the same vegetables in the same spot every year, disease can build up and be ready to attack before your plants have much of a chance. Keep the element of surprise and try to plant your crops in different parts of the garden each year. Keep in mind that many closely related plants are affected by the same diseases so you must avoid planting them where their relatives were the year or two before. Two of the biggest families to watch out for are the tomato family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant) and the squash family (squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and watermelon).
Starting your own garden is a great way to get outdoors, keep your family healthy, and positively affect the environment. We hope, with these tips, you will begin planting your own vegetables and experience the benefits in no time! Be sure to follow Marina Homes on Facebook to keep up with our blogs!