While there are loads of reasons to eat organic foods, the cost can be a bit steep. There is an alternative, however – growing your own vegetables and herbs. By growing your own organic garden, you can eat inexpensive organic foods while enjoying these great benefits.
The Benefits of Growing Your Own Organic Food
Exercise: Growing your own food can provide you with exercise. To prepare your garden, you’ll need to cultivate the soil, pull weeds, pick the vegetables, and more to ensure your harvest comes to fruition.
Relaxation: Gardening has been shown to have many therapeutic benefits. It can allow you to channel your daily stress and get your thoughts together. It can help you take a slower, easier approach to life for a while.
Fresh food: Food in grocery stores or markets may have been sitting for minutes, hours, or days. When you grow your own food, though, you know exactly how fresh it is.
Getting Started on Your Own Organic Garden
Starting your own organic garden may seem like an ordeal, but with dedication and a little planning, it’s easily within your reach.
Choosing Your Location
Your first task will be to decide what you’ll grow your vegetables in. You don’t need a large plot of land for your garden, or even a backyard; your organic garden can thrive in planters and window boxes just as well as in the ground. A small area doesn’t need to be a limitation; instead, think of it as an invitation to grow many different types of vegetables and herbs in smaller quantities.
Your next consideration should be the soil itself – poor soil will make growing anything difficult if not impossible. You can take a sample of the soil to your local garden center or nursery for testing or, for a simpler solution, you can test the soil yourself.
The location of your garden is just as important as the soil it grows in. Consider these four things when choosing your location:
Sunlight: Choose an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, preferably 8 hours. If this isn’t possible, you’ll want to grow crops that require less sunlight.
Land: Avoid planting in depressions or areas where water will collect. If you are planting on a slope, make sure that it’s tilted to receive the most sunlight.
Wind: Ensure that the area you are planting does not suffer from high winds; this can damage or ruin some plants or even your entire harvest. If you can’t find a calm, protected area, block off your garden with walls, hedges, gardening boxes, or other wind barriers.
Equipment location: Though your equipment won’t affect the growth of the plants, it will make gardening much harder if you choose the wrong spot. Make sure the garden is close to where you store your tools, your compost, and your water source. This will prevent you from having to haul tools and other materials to and from the garden on a regular basis.
Choosing the Plants and Seeds
The next thing to consider is what you will be growing. Your decision comes down to two major factors: what you like to eat, and what can actually grow in your chosen location.
Check the growing conditions for each of your plants to ensure that they prosper in your garden. You should know how much sunlight they need, what climate they grow best in, whether or not they need additional care or nutrients, and any other information you can find for the best results.
After you’ve chosen the plant you will grow, all you need are the right seeds. You can buy seeds from your local nursery or garden center or go the extra organic mile by purchasing organic seeds from a variety of locations.
Planting and Growing
Raising a garden involves much more than daily watering – for a healthy and delicious crop, follow these few steps:
Pick often: If you wait too long to pick a vegetable, it will become overripe and spoiled; even worse, it might also stunt the plant’s growth. Mature vegetables sitting at the end of the plant will send a message to the plant to slow down or halt the production of produce as it is no longer needed. You don’t want this to happen.
Water carefully: Watering your garden is not as simple as turning on a sprinkler or soaking the plants with a watering can. You should water slowly and take the time to ensure that it reaches deep into the soil. If you water too quickly the plants will only take root on the top layer of the soil, making them more vulnerable to heat, drought, and other conditions.
Contain your plants: Many plants simply grow straight up, which isn’t ideal for their development or health. Try to support your plants with stakes and green plant tape (which stretches to accommodate for new growth). This will keep your plants off of the ground and away from insects and other dangers; it also prevents them from stealing water and sunlight from shorter plants.
Weeding: It is important to weed your garden regularly. Weeds sap water and nutrients from the soil; if they’re big enough, weeds can also steal sunlight from your vegetables and herbs. Be sure to pull weeds out from the roots to keep your garden safe for growth.
Inspect your garden: Check your plants regularly and thoroughly to ensure they are strong and healthy. A subtle change in color can tell you that something is not quite right; damaged tips or leaves, or pellets on those leaves can tell you that pests are snacking on your crops. Regular inspection will allow you to spot problems before they ruin your plants and allow you to deal with them quickly.