The topic is gardening is vast and versatile, with so many options available to you. Vegetable gardens are popular and provide a wide range of benefits, from having fresh veggies at home to use in cooking, to saving money by growing them yourself.
Another big advantage? You get to control HOW they are grown, especially in terms of chemicals or pesticides. Organic vegetables at the supermarket are very expensive, and even then, you don’t have 100% confirmation on how they were grown.
By starting your own organic vegetable garden, every choice is up to you. Plus, you have this amazing feeling by knowing you grew your OWN food.
This report is going to go over what organic gardening is, and some tips for someone brand new to growing their own veggies.
What is Organic Gardening?
The main difference between organic and conventionally-grown vegetables is in the chemicals and pesticides used to grow them. Typically, produce you get in the store without the organic label likely came from a large facility where they were grown with chemical fertilizers, and sprayed with pesticides.
These chemicals have raised some concerns with consumers to a large extent over the last 15 – 20 years. As time goes on, people are beginning to lose more and more faith in the factory farm industry. One of the primary reasons is that there are frequent recalls of foods that are produced on these farms, and there have even been some deaths that reach national and international news outlets.
People want to know that the food they eat is safe and that safety is worth more to them than the hike in the price they see at specialty stores.
What This Means for You
Instead of buying organic produce at a grocery store, you will be making it yourself. This gives you a lot of options in terms of making it as organic as possible, including not using harsh fertilizers with chemicals, looking for more natural ways of controlling pests, and allowing the natural growth of the produce, instead of adding chemicals to make it a larger side or more robust.
Where to Start with Your Vegetable Garden
The thought of starting your own garden, particularly when growing your own food, can be really intimidating. And while you will absorb a lot of information both here and elsewhere when you do your own research, it is not nearly as complicated as it might seem.
The most important things you will need to learn include:
- Choosing the types of vegetables to grow
- Selecting a pot and soil
- Knowing when and how much to water
- Controlling pests naturally (for organic produce)
- General tips for caring for your vegetable garden
Choosing Your Veggies
The first step is to choose your vegetables. This is a good place to start since what you intend to grow will often determine where you are going to grow them. Different types of vegetables need different amounts of space for growing, different types of soil, and varying sunlight.
Vegetables that are easy to grow – If you are brand new to gardening and have never grown a vegetable before, then there are some that are easier to grow than others. These include:
- Lettuce and spinach
- Green Beans
- Bell peppers
Your favorites – It makes sense that you would grow vegetables you enjoy the most. Think about what you put in salads or veggies you serve often as side dishes. Do you cook with onion every night? Then put that on the list! On the other hand, just because a vegetable like spinach is easy to grow, that doesn’t mean you should if your family doesn’t enjoy it.
The dirty dozen – Since you are growing organic vegetables, why not choose vegetables that are considered the Dirty Dozen – otherwise known as veggies that use a lot of pesticides when they are grown conventionally?
Among them include:
Selecting the Plot for Your Garden
Do you know how to pick the best spot for your veggies? Professional farmers will often select areas that can run lengthwise from east to west. This is done because it maximizes the amount of time that the vegetables will have to be in the sun.
Vegetables require a good amount of sun, which is somewhere between 6 – 8 hours in order to grow to their full potential. Consider your yard or garden area, and look for a spot that will get at least 6 hours of full sunlight a day.
Other things to consider with the plot location:
Will pets get to them? You don’t want them ruined by your dog or cat.
You need them close enough to you to care for regularly.
Make sure the vegetables will have ample space to grow fully.
Prepping the Soil
The health of the soil where you’ll be growing your vegetables is extremely important. This can make or break the success of your vegetable garden. Since you want to grow the vegetables organically, this means ditching chemical-ridden fertilizers and going a more natural route.
One of the best ways to have healthy soil for a vegetable garden is with compost. This is going to be completely natural and is a wonderful way to replace fertilizers in the soil. Compost uses organic matter like clippings, sawdust, and wood chips in the soil.
You can also use mulch, as well as manure in your organic vegetable garden soil.
Planting Your Vegetable Garden
Now for the fun part – planting your vegetable garden! Remember that you want to start small if this is your first garden. Pick just a couple of different vegetables and a relatively small plot. If you overwhelm yourself, you might give up and never try again.
You will need to choose how you will plant the vegetables, such as from a seed or transferring from a pot that has been started for you. Each of these should also come with directions about how to plant it, and how far apart each needs to be.
Make sure the spacing is accurate since some vegetables yield quite a bit each season. Some vegetables that tend to yield more include lettuce, turnips, beans, and carrots.
When it comes to watering, there is a balance between watering enough and watering too much. It can be easy to overwater since you are excited about your garden and want to keep tending to it. But this can drown the plants and prevent proper growth.
In general, you shouldn’t be watering more than 2-3 times a week, though more might be required in a hot, dry climate. When your garden looks and feels dry, you know it’s time to add more water.
It is difficult to provide general guidelines for harvesting since it is different for each vegetable. Before too long, you understand when it is time to harvest your vegetables, depending on what you are growing.
For example, broccoli is ready to harvest when the buds are still compact and before they open into flowers. With onions, you will harvest them when the tops are dying and fall over. Tomatoes should be fully colored when they are harvested.
Lastly, you want to control pests in a natural way, which is one of the most challenging parts of growing vegetables organically. You can either purchase an organic insecticide (which will be made with natural ingredients), or use some of these types of ingredients to make your own spray:
- Vegetable oil and soap
- Diatomaceous earth
- Neem oil
The type of pests you tend to get will determine which ingredients are best for an organic pesticide.