Organic gardening grows more and more popular each day, and for good reason. Organic gardeners avoid the use of synthetic chemicals to keep their yards healthy and hazard-free. The methods of keeping plants growing vigorously without the heavy reliance on environmentally unfriendly sprays are the true success of organic gardens. The most important aspect of organic gardening? Soil.
As the life force of the garden, soil enriched with organic matter becomes moist, airy, and fertile–ideal for healthy plants. It also nourishes beneficial organisms and bacteria and supports fungi that optimize growing conditions. Prevention is also the watchword of organic gardeners. Plants can thrive if they are given the right amount of sun, suitable soil, proper spacing, and ideal planting.
Here are a few tips that will help you keep your organic garden thriving and healthy.
1. Maintain a good compost pile. The nutrients derived from your composting provide everything your soil needs to sustain the garden. Start the compost pile on a bed of branched sticks that will allow air to rise. Add a perforated pipe (PVC works well) in the center and build layers of old leaves, grass clippings, and other garden leftovers around it. The air will flow through the pipe into the pile. If you cannot use the finished compost for a while, cover the pile with a tarp to trap the nutrients in the compost.
2. Be mindful of the length of the growing season. The longer the growing season, the more compost is needed in the soil. A longer growing season requires more nutrients and organic matter in the soil.
3. Try companion planting. Some plants replenish nutrients lost by another plant, and some combinations can effectively keep pests away.
Consult your local garden center for advice pertinent to your area.
4. Water in the morning. Doing so will help you avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity.
5. Give new beds that extra kick with plenty of compost, soil amendments, and double digging.
6. Keep dirt off lettuce and cabbage leaves when growing by spreading a 1 to 2 inch layer of mulch (untreated by pesticides or fertilizers) around each plant. This also helps keep the weeds down.
7. Recycle your soda bottles, milk jugs, and other plastic containers as great mini-covers to place over your plants and protect them from frost.
8. A garden soil that has been well mulched and amended periodically requires only about a 1-inch layer of compost yearly to maintain its quality.
9. Diatomaceous earth is an abrasive white powder used to damage the cuticle, skin, and joints of insects, and it makes an excellent organic insecticide. It also makes an excellent slug barrier.
10. Rotate your crops each year to help reduce pest and disease problems, as well as to correct nutrient deficiencies and excesses.