(Plus a few house updates)
Before I begin talking about organic gardening… we wanted to give you a quick update. You may have noticed that we have been missing for a few weeks. Well… we ended up having to wait about 8 weeks for our septic permit to be approved. So, in the house building realm of life we did not have a whole lot to discuss, unfortunately. I suppose I could have done a LOOONG, meaningful post on how waiting is really doing a wonderful job at developing our character and how patience is now something we have down pat. Seriously, you wouldn’t even recognize the calm, sedate person I have become (to be clear… these are bold faced lies that I wish were true). In all honesty waiting has still been hard. Fortunately, the garden has been a wonderful distraction and will, hopefully, keep our sanity intact while we now wait for the building permit to be issued.
Visit our post on How Long Does it Take to Build a House to learn more.
Now… about organic gardening
Start at the beginning
Last post (Organic Gardening for Beginners, Part 1) we covered the basics of how to prepare an organic garden and why you should consider organic gardening at all. It’s a good place to start if you haven’t already selected your spot and tilled up your plot.
Plan What to Plant in Your Organic Garden
If you want to make the most of your garden, get more produce and have less work… well then you are a smart person. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s not as simple as just selecting plants and putting them in though. No, for a productive easy garden some planning is required.
Grow what you eat
While this is not a revolutionary idea, it is important. Even if radishes are easy to grow will you eat them? If the answer is no then your motivation for tending those radishes will likely plummet quickly. If, however, you are already buying blueberries, peppers, carrots and tomatoes at the store regularly then those should be your top picks when choosing what to plant in your garden.
Consider Companion Planting
Companion planting means to place at least two different plants in close proximity to one another in order to promote the health and growth of each plant mutually. It’s a very cool concept and my favorite new thing while we learn about organic gardening as beginners.
There are at least three reasons to consider companion planting:
1. Promotes Plant Growth
Often, what one companion plant puts into the soil another takes out of the soil. You can see how this could be beneficial. Your soil will be rich with the nutrients your plants need without any work from you!
2. Protects Your Plants
You can actually use plants the protect one another from insects. For example, I planted basil next to my tomatoes. Not only have studies shown that tomatoes are actually tastier when grown next to basil (for real… look it up! How cool is that??), the strong scent basil gives off will help to protect your tomatoes from being eaten by bugs! That’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.
3. Banish Weeds
This method also helps to combat weed growth. When you are trying to grow an organic garden weeds can become your arch nemesis. A natural and chemical free way to banish weeds is to take up as much soil space as possible with plants you actually want to grow! For example, peppers can grow tall and provide some shade. Planting lettuce underneath those peppers will provide the shade the lettuce prefers and because lettuce has a very shallow root system the peppers grow undisturbed, happily and fruitfully. With all these plants crammed in together weeds have a hard time finding space to grow roots.
Select plants based on you hardiness zone and sun exposure
Below is the current map of U.S. hardiness zones. Each plant you are thinking of planting will have a hardiness zone assigned to it. Ensure that anything you plant can survive in the climate where you live.
You will also want to make sure you plant things that can grow in the amount of sunlight it receives. I have spots in my garden that get the minimum 6 hours of sun and this is where I have planted things that can deal with partial shade. Lettuce prefers a little shade so we are growing lots of it! Tomatoes love the sun… so we really only have a few places we can put it. You get the idea.
Maintain Your Organic Garden
If you follow the steps outlined in Organic Gardening for Beginners, Part 1 and also the suggestions above, then maintenance should be about as easy as it gets.
Visit your garden often, ensure daily watering (if your plants require it) and spend about five to ten minutes pulling any small weeds that have sprouted. Trust me when I say that if you pull them early your organic gardening life will be one you can happily continue instead of becoming a chore.
Since we are building a house on our property, I do not (yet) live on the same property where our garden is planted. Despite that, I can honestly tell you that it only takes me about 10 minutes to care for our garden… and I only visit it a few times a week. Our peppers have buds, the radishes (I happen to love radishes) are producing like crazy and the lettuce is about ready to be picked. Since caring for our garden requires us to make a special trip, it truly has been wonderful to feel successful without a big time commitment. I hope these tips will help you find success in your own organic garden! Feel free to comment below with your own experience or with any questions!