Starting Your First Organic Garden Part 1

Today I will give you tips on how you could start growing your own food!

Gardening doesn’t have to be so complicated. People always say “everything I grow dies” or “I don’t have a green thumb” but neither of these mean that you cannot learn from your mistakes. If I gave up every time something went wrong in my garden, then nothing would get done.

So here are some tips for gardening in soil and gardening in pots.

Gardening In Soil

Get To Know Your Soil!

Soil is made up by 3 components (sand, clay and silt) so before you start planting anything you must know what type of soil you have and its characteristics. By knowing your soil type it gives you an idea of how you should tend your garden. There are a few ways to find this information out but the easiest way is just to look it up yourself online (link). This soil survey will tell you everything about your soil. If you need any help with the link just let me know. Also If your soil isn’t the best for gardening then raised beds filled with a mixture of compost and topsoil could be an option.

Picking The Location

The location of the garden doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to make sure that the space you pick gets at least the minimum amount of sunlight per day required to grow the vegetables you plan to grow.

Sizing The Garden

Since you’re just starting the garden, it doesn’t have to be huge. I started with a 4ft X 4ft space that I grew tomatoes in. You can always expand the space if you want to in the future.

Clearing The Space

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to dig, till or even spray herbicides to kill grass. The way I do this without destroying the soil in the process is pretty simple:

You will need to cut the grass then rake the fresh grass on to your gardening spot. After you do that, cover the grass with either black plastic/landscape fabric or with cardboard. Make sure to weigh it down to prevent it from blowing away. The time it takes depends on the time of the year you do it.

Compost Compost Compost

Cover soil with a layer of compost at least 2 inches thick. Let the compost rest on top of the soil for at least two weeks before planting. Compost enriches the soil by doing the following:

  • Retaining moisture
  • Encouraging beneficial microorganisms
  • Adds organic matter to soil
  • Improves soil structure
  • Improves cation exchange capacity (CEC)
  • Suppresses plant diseases and pest
  • Adds vital nutrients back to soil

One rule to remember about compost is that all compost isn’t made equally so do a little research before you apply it to your garden.

Gardening In Pots

This way is more convenient for people that lack space or just want to start small. Gardening in pots only have 3 requirements.

Choosing The Right Pots

If you’re growing plants that have vigorous root systems you want to have pots that will support them so for example plants such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, squash and peas should be grown in pots 5 gallons or more. For leafy greens and shallow rooted vegetables, deeper pots aren’t required.

Potting soil

Potting soil is either sold bagged or you could make your own mix.

Bagged potting soil is just like compost, it’s not all made the same. There is high quality potting soil and there is low quality. Always look for OMRI and CDFA listed products. Also make sure it is formulated for what you’re planting.

Making your own potting soil is pretty simple. Mixtures can be made up of ingredients such as compost, coco coir (shredded coconut husk), worm castings, Mycorrhizae, organic fertilizer of your choice, pumice, and perlite.

Location For The Pots

The location for the pots go by the same guidelines as if you were gardening in soil. You still want at least the minimum amount of sunlight required to grow whatever you choose to grow.

 

Part 2 will be about selecting the right seeds and germination. Thank you for reading, let me know what you think!

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Why I chose organic over conventional


Instead of just talking about organic farming, I am going to explain both practices. By the end of this post, it should be quite obvious why I chose organic.

Conventional Farming

Conventional farming or industrial agriculture is a farming practice that is known for its use of chemical pesticides, chemical herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, heavy tillage, and mono-cropping. Conventional farming was developed in the 19th century, but didn’t gain popularity until the 1920s. After World War 1 & 2, there were two substances in high abundance. First being synthetic chemical fertilizers such as Ammonium Nitrate (which were used for munitions). It is highly explosive/flammable, and a source of water soluble nitrogen which is just wonderful. The other substance was left-over nerve agents/gas. These nerve gases were re-branded then sprayed on the crop as a pesticide even to this day. One detail I have learnt over the years is that in the United States we never let anything go to waste… except everything that isn’t supposed to go to waste – but that is for a later discussion. The use of chemical pesticides, chemical herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, heavy tillage, and mono-cropping create an unsustainable habitat for crops and soil life. Using some these of unsustainable methods over a period of time will make the crops and soil gain a dependency to these methods which will increase year after year causing environmental problems such as soil erosion, fertilizer runoff, death of pollinators, death of soil life, increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, water scarcity, susceptibility to pathogens etc. However, there is one upside to conventional farming compared to organic farming. Vegetable yields are higher in the first few years, but in my opinion it isn’t worth it at all due to increasingly more questionable and unsustainable farming practices… plus I am not willing to bet my health on it.

Organic Farming

Before the takeover of conventional farming there was no such thing as “organic” farming. It was just the normal way everyone farmed (without all the chemicals and questionable methods). Currently, organic farms still use pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but the choices of what organic farmers can use are considerably less compared to its counterpart. It all depends on what the farmer chooses to use at the end of the day. As for fertilizers, organic farms can use manures from certified organic animals, organic seed meal (usually from soy or cotton), compost, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, rock dust, the byproduct of seafood such as oyster/crab/shrimp/lobster shell, fish meal, and fish bone meal etc. The use of GMOs is prohibited to its fullest extent. Organic farms, are mostly minimal till or no-till but both use cover crops as a way to control soil erosion and weed growth. Cover crops are also a way to add nitrogen back to the soil through nitrogen fixation with legumes. It also adds organic matter back to the soil as it decomposes. In most organic farms, mono-cropping doesn’t exist. Most organic farms believe in crop rotation, and crop diversity which makes the crop less susceptible to disease. In my garden, I practice all these organic methods except the use of pesticides, herbicides or fungicides because I believe if you have the right balance of nutrients, soil life, organic matter, oxygen and water, then the crop would have what it needs to grow to its full potential with the added benefit of being able to adapt to whatever might cause problems. I chose organic because I don’t want to have to question if the food I’m growing/eating is doing more harm than good to me and the Earth. We as people either chose to pollute and destroy Earth or choose to nourish it. I will always choose to nourish it.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. Please like, share and follow I gladly appreciate it!