Tasting that first juicy tomato, crunchy pepper, or sweet strawberry is gardening’s finest reward! When you grow organically, there are so many benefits for both you and the environment: produce is healthier, more colorful and tastes better; and the Earth gets treated better as well.
Read about some tips for easy organic growing.
- Grow in organic soil – If you’re growing in-ground, it’s always best to have your soil tested first, to find out what amendments are needed. (County extension agents can also advise you on soil needs for specific plants in your area). Purchasing sterile organic growing media for container garden plants is easy, just be sure that it contains the texture and minerals that are needed for the produce you plant to grow.
- Plant organic seeds and seedlings – The best way to grow organic is to start organic. Obtain seeds from a trusted source. If you are not able to find seeds, then plant seeds that have not been treated with fungicides.
- Grow companion plants – Plants can be compatible growing mates for different reasons: some plants act as a trap crops, luring in insects and thereby protecting the plants around them; some plants drive away bad bugs (marigolds are a good example); while other plants attract beneficial insects (carrots, dill and parsley attract praying mantises and ladybugs). Also, when quick-growing vegetables are planted next to long-season veggies, their growing and harvest schedule are varied which can help to avoid competition for nutrients and water; and shallow root plants and deep root plants can be can be planted next to each other because they won’t compete for soil minerals and other resources
- Compost – Composting is a great way to recycle vegetable scraps and provide natural fertilizer for your plants. Using red worms (vermicomposting) is a great way to get prime compost quickly. These “Red Wrigglers” can compost half their weight each day! Check out our Worm Factory 360 to learn more
- Avoid Chemicals – Rather than use chemical additives or man-made pesticides on your plants, use 100% natural compounds. Compost makes a great soil amendment and fertilizer.
- Pest Control – Using insecticidal soap and Neem oil or planting companion plants that seem distasteful or using sticky cards can catch bad bugs.
- Attract beneficial insects – Obtaining good bugs and placing them in your garden can help protect your produce. As mentioned above, some plants also attract good bugs, such as flowering herbs (dill, rosemary and lavender) and flowers like achillea and buddleia.
- Prevent weeds – Weeds are not only nuisances, but also bridges of disease. They can rob water and nutrients from your plants, so taking care of them is very effective at preventing unwanted plants. You can do this by hand-weeding, using biodegradable mulches and other non-toxic methods.
- Keep disease at bay – There are many ways to ensure that you’ll have very few, if any, disease issues with your plants. Some include: practicing crop rotation, to avoid planting in potentially disease soil. Another is to plant resistant varieties whenever possible. Pest prevention and control are also key, and easily accomplished without toxins. Sending in beneficial insects and using organic deterrents are two other effective solutions.
- Remove debris and spent plants – Keeping the greenhouse clear of plant debris is very important for maintaining a healthy environment for all of your plants.
- Harvesting – here are some detailed harvest tips for your vegetables so you are able to pick them at just the right time for the best flavors, textures, and colors.
- Store produce properly – You’ve put time, effort and care into growing you organic plants, and now you can extend the life of the produce. For tips on storing all varieties of vegetables check out this article about good storage practices
The more organic your food, the healthier both you and the land are. It doesn’t take much to ensure that your plants benefit from safer methods of maintenance that result in delicious, 100% natural produce in no time.
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