Organic Gardening

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. Pest Control – Using insecticidal soap and Neem oil or planting companion plants that seem distasteful or using sticky cards can catch bad bugs.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Want more growing tips? Visit our Resource Page.

Greenhouse tips

12 Tips for Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening

Your greenhouse lets you enjoy vegetable gardening more of the year. These vegetable gardening tips can help make this year’s crop of vegetables your best ever!

12 Tips or Better Vegetable Gardening

*Plant your crops in one to two week intervals for longing harvesting times. Try planting one row of peas every week for four weeks for better crop results. This provides smaller yields over a longer period of time and avoids harvesting too much of one vegetable at one time. It also makes canning and freezing easier during hot summer months. This technique works well for crops that have a short fruit bearing season such as peas, sweet corn, beans, and melon.

*Plant your crop rows in a north/south direction to help crops grow more evenly. This provides equal amounts of sunlight to every plant.

*Sweet corn achieves better pollination when planted in smaller blocks rather than in rows. The result will be bigger, better tasting sweet corn.

*To avoid over watering while vegetable gardening, place a large can or pot in the center of the garden. Allow the sprinkler to continue until the pot accumulates about three-quarters to one inch of water.

*Always water your vegetable garden in the early morning or after the sun sets to avoid scorching your plants.

*Be sure to rotate your crops from year to year to avoid depleting the nutrients in your vegetable garden soil.

*For fruitful vegetable gardening, you must periodically check the pH of the garden soil. Most garden vegetables thrive in soil with a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5.

*Watch your vegetable garden carefully and remove plants as they finish producing fruit for the season. This frees up room in the greenhouse or backyard for autumn vegetable gardening.

*Cutting off heads of cabbage during harvesting leaves the roots intact for growing more cabbage if you divide the stump into four equal parts with a few more cuts of a sharp blade.

*Tomatoes require lots of water. If you experience a dry spell, even for a few days, this lack of water will significantly affect your tomatoes. Be sure to water these plants vigorously. A tomato fruit is over 95% water!

*When selecting crop placement or planting different crops in the same container, avoid planting broccoli with tomatoes, beans with onions, or potatoes with tomatoes or squash.

*For natural bug control, try boiling a garlic clove for 10 minutes in water and place the boiled clove in a shallow depression in the soil of the container that is plagued with pests.

These 12 tips for better vegetable gardening can help your vegetable plants produce bigger, juicier vegetables worthy of the blue ribbon.