People are afraid of pests, diseases and failing. Those three things are universal in most circles but for gardeners, they are especially true. Organic gardeners, probably more than the rest of the general population. Most people are intimidated by the prospect of facing an entire planting season without a shred of chemical assistance but, in my experience, the food is just better without it. So, you’ve decided to plant an organic garden this year? Great! Let me show you how.
This is an important part. Get your soil tested. Without the aid of chemical fertilizers, you need to know what your soil is lacking so you can infuse it with the minerals it is missing through organic means. For Example: if you need calcium in your soil, use limestone. There is an organic material for every deficiency in soil.
Increasing Soil Health
- Compost/Manure/Waste Sludge: spread evenly over the site of your garden and work it into the soil either by hand hoeing or by tilling will improve the overall soil quality.
- Shredded newspapers provide awesome food for earthworms, increasing aeration of your plants and allowing water to get into the roots of plants and leaving helpful waste behind as well. Shred it and leave it under the pile of earth if you can help it.
- Kelp/seaweed has many helpful micronutrients that will aid in soil productivity.
- Fish byproducts make an excellent all-natural fertilizer as they break down.
- Guano, aka bat/bird feces. It’s another type of manure and provides a good enrichment for the soil.
- Bone/Blood meal comes in a powdered form and increases the richness of phosphorus, nitrogen, and micronutrients.
- Epsom salt is also a natural fertilizer.
- Greensand. It’s not just for color. It will raise potassium levels in cultivated soil.
- Peat Moss is a all-natural herbicide and prevents common garden diseases.
A Good Garden Has Variety
Having plants of various heights and not row after row of organized veggies will actually prevent and deter many plant predators including some insects. The plants that love low lying veggies are not as big of fans as tall ones and so on. By intermixing them, you’ll deter insects just by the arrangement of plants.
There are several pests that seem to invade any garden but there are natural ways to keep them out!
- Insects: natural insect repellants exist in two forms, something you put on the plants and something you plant near your plants. What do I mean? By planting-
You will prevent many harmful plant-eating insects from coming near your garden. Just plant them along the perimeter as a sort of natural defence against predators. You also might want to get some helpful insects to keep the bad ones in check, like ladybugs who eat a variety of leaf-eating insects.
- Deer/rabbits: Fences and fence maintenance are essential in keeping these two pesky furry garden eaters out. If you can’t spring for the fence, I would suggest trying some vegetable fencing (very effective for small saplings), or getting a motion-detector sprayer. TIP: nothing likes being drenched suddenly with cold water.
- Birds: red pepper sprinkled on and between plants has worked well for me. However, if you’re having issues with them in your fruit trees, use netting, or construct a staked out tent with porous material so they don’t get an aerial view of your garden but it still receives much-needed sunlight.
Plant, Water, and Prune With Care
Like any other garden, put your plants at least six inches apart, water at least once a week (more frequently if it’s strikingly hot outside), and prune back the dead or dying leaves. In no time flat, you’ll have lovely, healthy plants and a place you’ll be proud of.
So, it’s just that simple! Try it out, conquer your fears of pests, illness, and failure. You’ll certainly be glad you did. Good luck!
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