Almost all of us—probably in grade school—planted a seed in a cup of dirt, watered it, and watched it grow. But creating a garden that produces fresh food and flowers all season is not so elementary—especially to those who did not grow up gardening. To get you started, we’ve compiled this guide to the basics of organic gardening and the keys to success that we’ve learned over the years.
Before you get started—make sure that you have the 6 essential tools that you will need to successfully maintain your organic garden: a trowel, hand-weeding tool, a hoe, pruners, a fork, and a spade. When you’re done reading, look at your thumb—you may see a tint of green that wasn’t there before.
These steps apply to vegetables you get in packs at the garden center—as well as annual and perennial flowers. If you want to start an annual crop—check out this Guide To Starting Annual Flower Seeds. We recommend transplanting on an overcast day to give the plants a chance to adjust to their new home without being withered by direct sun.
Weeds siphon water and nutrients away from your garden, harbor pests, and they sure can make your garden look a mess. But you don’t need to spray toxic herbicides—which are harmful to people, pets, and wildlife—to keep plant invaders out of your organic garden.
Try using fish and seaweed fertilizer, compost, and clove oil herbicide instead of synthetic fertilizers and chemical weed sprays on your garden. Combining a natural approach with the following tips will help keep your weed infestation under control.
Whenever you see insects in your garden, remember this—most are no threat to plants, many are even beneficial, and all of them, even the pests that eat your plants, are an integral part of the ecosystem you are cultivating. But what do you do when the pests seem to have the upper hand?
You don’t want to enforce a “no-fly zone” with pesticides. They’re dangerous for you to have and to use, they harm wildlife, and contaminate water. Instead use safe, organic techniques and products to keep the pests in balance.