By: Leanne Ely
I just love this time of year when those tender green leaves start shooting from the earth. There’s nothing like walking out to the garden with a pair of scissors and bringing in everything you need to make a fabulous salad for dinner.
If you’ve made the decision to plant your own organic vegetable garden this spring, I truly applaud you! If you have children, they are learning an unbelievably valuable lesson by seeing how much work it takes to get a tiny seed to grow into an edible plant.
Believe it or not, gardening isn’t as hard as you might think. Once you have a couple of basics under your belt, it really isn’t very hard. It takes a lot of work to tend to your garden, I won’t lie to you, but it’s well worth the effort (scout’s honor!).
Plus, growing your own organic vegetables is also a very economical way to feed your family the absolute highest quality food that you can and stretch your grocery dollar.
Here are the basic tricks and tips you need to start your own organic garden.
1. Gather your tools. You’re going to need a hoe, a pitch fork, a spade, a weeding tool and a trowel in order to plant your garden. You’ll also need a watering can and supplies to build a frame if you are going to do a raised bed rather than digging up the earth.
2. Buy organic seeds. Make sure you have a good quality source for organic seeds. This is especially important when it comes to corn, beets, soy beans, zucchini, yellow squash and alfalfa, which are some of the crops that are legally allowed to be genetically modified in the United States.
3. Start in organic soil. If you’re starting some of your seeds indoors (which should be done for herbs and some crops like tomatoes, peppers and leeks), use an organic starting mix to get the best start possible for your seeds. (Your seed packets will tell you which plants need to be started early.)
4. Make a bed. Three weeks before you’re ready to put your seeds in the ground, you’ll want to make your garden bed. The soil should be good and workable. The earth should be dry enough that it crumbles in your hand rather than clumps together. Dig your garden patch about 12 inches deep. Remove stones and weeds. Rake the soil on a regular basis over the next three weeks—this will help any weeds that want to make their way up do so before you plant your seeds. If you don’t want to dig a bed, you can make a raised garden. Measure the area of land you want to dedicate to your garden and put a layer of newspaper or cardboard down to prevent weeds from coming through the grass. Build a simple frame about 12 inches high around your garden, and fill that with soil.
5. Add compost. Add a good layer of organic compost to the top of your garden and rake it into the soil. You can buy organic compost from a local organic farmer, purchase it from a garden store or make your own out of kitchen scraps,. Compost acts as a natural fertilizer, and it’s very beneficial for the soil.
6. Grid or rows. Decide if you want to plant in trench style (which requires a hoe to make long furrows to plant in) or in a grid pattern. There’s no rule here. You can be as organized as you want to be.
7. Add water. Lightly moisten the soil before you plant your seeds. You don’t want the seeds to get swamped with water.
8. Plant. Read your seed packets to find out how to space your seeds and how deep to plant. Cover the seeds with a small amount of soil.
Until your seeds sprout, sprinkle water over the surface of your garden whenever it looks dry. A spray bottle is great for this, or a watering can will work but remember to only add a small amount of water.
Gardening vegetables is so rewarding and such a great thing to do with the kids. There’s something very primal about eating food you’ve grown with your very own hands.
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