Be a Smart Gardener – Grow Organic!

Be a Smart Gardener – Grow Organic!

Can you organically garden? Anyone can plant an organic garden whether the purpose is for food, for satisfaction, for sale or to help battle global warming. Notice, I didn’t say you needed to be an organic farmer to recapture carbon from the atmosphere. It seemingly begins with the soil.

Gardening Tip #1-Return organic matter to the earth
This is easily done through composting. Everyone has access to the raw ingredients, items that you can compost, of organic matter. These items include those you already have naturally around the house. You will need a mixture of browns and greens. Greens are grass clippings, garden and kitchen vegetable scraps, plant and bush waste, coffee grounds and filters, manure, sod, weeds, and hair. Browns include fall leaves, newspaper, cardboard, corn stalks, dryer link, pine needles and cones, and sawdust. Put them in a pile and mix them up with a rake or a shovel. The purpose of adding composted soil to your garden is to provide aeration to your soil and acts as a fertilizer.

Gardening Tip #2-Check your soil.
Most of your local county extension centers will test your soil for a small fee. The results of the test will tell you the soil’s pH and what nutrients your soil requires to make it the right balance for growing most anything. You may need to amend your soil with bonemeal, greensand or dolomitic lime, which all are derived from natural sources and each help to provide for a particular need.

Gardening Tip #3-Be kind to your insects.
The best defenses against insect attack are preventative measures such as efficient water use, beneficial insects, and companion planting. Plants like a steady amount of water, approximately one inch per week. Don’t let them be too wet or dry. Most importantly, encourage natural predators to hunt in your garden like ladybugs, birds, frogs and lizards. These beneficial insects can eat quite a few of the bad insects. Companion planting involves planting certain flowers and herbs in and around your garden that are compatible and in effect, will deter pests through their scents.

Gardening Tip #4-Weed sensibly.
Tackle weeds with persistence and the right tools – not chemicals. A nice, thick layer of mulch keeps light from reaching weeds and straw and grass clippings nourish the soil as they decompose. For even better weed protection, use several sheets of newspaper or cardboard under these mulches as these will naturally decompose into the soil for more nourishment. Early in the season, you can suppress the growth of weed seeds by spreading corn gluten meal over the area where they’re growing. During the season, use a garden hoe to sever weed stems from their roots.