With many new and veteran gardeners constantly looking for ways to improve their veggie and fruit harvests, blooms and other plants, it’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at organic gardening.
Organic gardening may mean different things to different people. But one thing remains constant. Organic gardening harkens back to days before man-made chemicals and fertilizers. It’s a movement toward changing the way we think about growing foods from our gardens to benefit people, pets and the environment around us.
It begins with dirt. With a solid base of organic material, such as compost in your soil, your garden will blossom and thrive. Your fruits and vegetables will taste amazing.
Creating your own compost reduces household and landfill waste and it’s economical and easy. It encourages healthy biological activity in your yard, while enhancing your soil for ideal gardening conditions.
To create a rich compost, use a ratio of 75 percent yard waste and garden trimmings to 25 percent kitchen waste in your composter. If you’re a purist, use only non-chemically treated waste.
Be sure not to spread disease in your garden by discarding unhealthy plants, not composting them. The same goes for bug-eaten plants and clippings.
Don’t worry if you’re unable to make your own compost. Ready-made organic compost can enrich and amend your soil just the same. Here’s additional information on organic compost and soil for your vegetable garden.
8 Tips for a Better organic harvest
- Test your soil. Most vegetables grow best in a pH around 6.5.
- Grow native plants recommended for your region. They’ll perform better in your climate and growing conditions.
- Repel pests by planting the best companion for whatever you’re growing. Try basil or dill by tomatoes — it protects your fruit from hornworms. Or try an app that helps you determine what’s best.
- Grow nectar-rich plants like sunflowers and other garden heroes to attract beneficial bugs. Then you’ll watch ladybugs, praying mantis and spiders gobble up the likes of slugs, mites and other not-so-helpful insects.
- Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to keep water off leaves. Wet foliage invites disease.
- Pull weeds regularly before they can set seeds or spread.
- Space plants as recommended on seed packages or plant tags, to ensure good light and air circulation.
- Mulch your plants and water deeply in the morning. Healthy plants are better able to resist pests and diseases.
We all want lush gardens and bountiful harvests. But sometimes uninvited pests search out to make a meal or home of a plant. Your pickling cucumber seedlings could look beautiful one day and the next be taken over by cucumber beetles.
Besides plucking the bugs or shaking the plant to get them off, you could let beneficial nematodes take down these beetles and other types of pests invading your garden. These microscopic warriors kill soil borne pests including grubs, flea larvae, spider mites, fungus gnats, weevils, rootworms, cutworms and more.
For more remedies for other types of pests, click on our Pest Problem Solver tool. Just identify the pest or the problem and click through to results that let you choose from organic or non-organic products. Before you know it, the pests will be packing their bags.
Providing the proper fertilizer is another important step to ensure your vegetables, fruits, flowers and other plants blossom and thrive in your garden.
When vegetables and blooms need a boost from fertilizer, read the ingredients on the organic product packaging as you would a food label so you know what’s going into your soil.
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