always been my passion. As a young child, from about the age of 12 I
grew vegetables for my
family which was surprising as my mother, although a very keen
gardener, didn't show much interest in growing vegetables.
Instead she had a
beautiful, well-planned garden that drew people from
wide, and her exquisite roses and orchids were her pride and joy. She
was a great advocate of natural methods in producing those
beautiful blooms, especially with the use of seaweed and barnyard
manure. As an adult, and
a mother myself, she had me traipsing around with her on the neighbor's
dairy farm picking up cow manure to put around her roses.
But it was my
great-grandmother, who was the true organic
gardener of the family. She always had a brace of freshly trapped hares
hanging up in her pantry. Her pantry shelves were lined with the
bountiful harvest, sitting snugly in their glass jars. The chickens in
the backyard were kept for eggs as well as the pot and which she killed
and butchered herself. She grew prize-winning organically grown
vegetables, from the many
fruit trees she made jams and jellies, she was a wonderful
baker, and a
staunch believer in organic gardening.
So I guess it is no
surprise that I too am a believer of organic
However, even if it were not in my blood, I can't think
of any reason why you wouldn't want to grow organic food, or have a
beautiful organic garden perfectly safe for good insects to visit, as
as being safe for your family.
Hundreds of years ago,
everything was grown organically. No one grew
mono-cultures, there was a balance in nature. The good insects ate the
bad insects, and companion planting took care of the rest. Some crop
loss was expected and tomatoes off the vine didn't have to be the same
size and shape.
It was only our greed
for more crops per acre that resulted in
the use of artificial fertilizers. Suddenly, the balance of nature, was
thrown out of kilter. These artificial fertilizers and the practice of
growing mono-cultures caused an increase of damaging insects that then
called for damaging chemical pesticides.
And as the insects grew more resistant
to the chemicals so the chemicals to fight these pests became more and
Organic Gardening Tips
Beginning of Organic Gardening
want to start a
garden? Well, it is not as daunting as it sounds, nor is it difficult
to look after, once it is established. But having a beautiful
garden is the reward for constant care and nuturing. The more you look
after your garden, the better it will bloom and produce for you.
However, if you neglect your garden, in no time at all plants will
weaken, insects and disease will take over, and so will the weeds. Soon
your garden will become an unsightly jungle. So once you start a
garden, there is a certain level of commitment to keep it in good
So why can't you just have a garden and use poisons and sprays to keep
the insects and weeds at bay? Well, first of all it is irresponsible to
garden that way. You are killing both good and bad insects
indiscriminately. You are endangering your health and the eco-system at
large. There are alternative methods to fighting pests and
plant disease that are no more expensive, some so ridulously easy and
cheap, you can make them in your kitchen.
What is Organic Gardening?
You need to work with nature, not against it
You need to honor and practise diversity of
Be a custodian to the native plants and
animals in your
Return to the soil what you take out of it
Feed the soil, rather than the plant
See nature as something that is holistic and
rather than items working in isolation
annuals in full bloom
The type of garden
design you choose will really determine how much work and time you
garden will need to look good. Some people prefer having an easy
garden to look after. This is often a garden that is filled with native
plants from the area and therefore grow well with little fuss.
Others, and I am one of those, are more foolhardy and like the cottage
garden design that needs a lot of fuss and attention because most of
plants are annuals that need constantly replacing or plants that are
not native to the area and therefore need lots of coaxing to do well.
However, even in a cottage garden the backbone of any bed are hardy
perennials that will last during a tough winter. Hardy perennials cover
trees, shrubs and herbs that will grow for several seasons. Trees, of
course grow over a longer period of time.
One word of warning about planting trees
in a garden.
little saplings soon grow into big trees. Know both the height and
spreading width of the trees you are planning to use. Make sure that
their mature size, is not too big for the area chosen.
plant trees too close to a house, particularly oak trees as their root
system can be extensive in search for moisture and can do a lot of
damage to house foundations in the future.
Whatever garden design you choose, again, like house decorating, will
be a reflection of you and your personality and should match the
architecture of your home in order for the home and garden to have a
biggest gardening tip I can give you is that if you don't have good
soil, you will never have a beautiful garden. This is the food for your
garden and you need to make sure that you have just the right balance
of nutrients in the soil to produce good, strong plants.
Just because you are growing an organic garden, doesn't mean that you
don't have to do anything to condition the soil. If you continue to
take from the soil season after season, and put nothing back in the
form of compost and manure eventually, your plants will grow smaller
and weaker, get diseased and lots of pests... Sound familiar?
You also need to know the type of soil you have. If it is
clay, you need to add lime. If it is sandy, you need to add organic
matter. And you can add too much compost and barnyard
manure, so beware. However, whenever I am
planting new flowers, shrubs, trees or vegetables in my garden I always
add a good handful or two of manure to the holes, followed by a small
handful of lime, dolomite and blood and bone.
If you are preparing a new area for annuals or vegetables, place about
1 inch of compost on the area you are going to plant as well as
broadcasting with a good homemade fertilizer. You can see the recipe
You also need to know the pH of your garden soil. Some plants are acid
loving, while others are alkali loving. Test your soil, and know which
type of soil you have. Don't fight against nature. Plant according to
your pH and you will get good results. Most plants do well
within the 6.0 - 7.0 range.
Your soil should be friable, loamy and have good drainage. A lot of
plants don't like "wet feet". If you have a problem with soil that is
waterlogged, either create a garden with bog plants and similar water
loving plants, or do something about the soil.
However, the cheaper
option is definitely the planting out of plants that will thrive in
such an environment. Putting in drainage pipes and gravel for
drainage is very costly. The only drawback of not putting in any
drainage is that you would be very limited in the type of vegetables
that you would be able to grow in soil like this.
Making compost at home is the most economical way of using up grass
clippings, soft prunings, household scraps and even vacuum cleaner
debris, and improving the quality of your garden soil at the same time!
We show you that making a compost bin
that difficult as well as how to make compostin
very short space of time.
Finally, if you have a country home, you will need to protect your
garden from animals such as dogs, deer, rabbits etc. If you cannot
protect your flower garden at least put a fence around your vegetable
Know your Gardening Zones
what grows well in your area. There is not point in
orchids in Michigan or tulips in Florida. You will only end up
with a lot of heartache. Know your gardening zones and when
it is safe to
plant out your seedlings after the last frosts have passed.
Growing native plants of the area are always a safe bet. These are
hardy, usually are not attacked as much by garden pests, and in a
drought are fairly resistant to a sudden lack of water.
If you are not going to grow native species in your organic gardens and
want to create a garden filled with exotic plants, expect a lot of
hard work, and a certain amount of failure.
you are serious about organic gardening, you will need to buy open
pollinated seeds for vegetables that are untreated, as well as
untreated seeds for annuals and other plants.
will allow you to save
the heirloom seeds from one
harvest to the next.
Many of you may not be aware that your seeds are often chemically
treated by the seeds companies to retard disease and to keep the seeds
viable for longer.
If you use these chemically treated seeds you are
not growing organic vegetables. Heirloom seeds or
untreated, open-pollinated seeds are the only seeds you should be
buying if you are a serious organic gardener.
Garden Fertilizer for Feeding
In order to grow a beautiful garden you need to feed your
regularly. This includes foliar feeding, as well as feeding the root
system. In order to do this you either have to make or buy some good
For the very best homemade organic feeder you can get is the following
recipe, which isn't ours, but belongs to a gentleman from Australia,
but which worked for him for more than 30 years as well as for us and
others. So we share this with you now.
Homemade Recipe for Organic Garden Fertilizer
3 parts seed meal
1 part blood and bone, or meat meal
1/4 part agricultural lime, finely ground
1/4 part gypsum (If you can't get gypsum double the quantity of the
1/2 part dolomite
1 part either rock phosphate, kelp meal or bone meal
For those of you who don't know what seed meal is, it is what is left
behind after either linseed, sunflowers or canola seed (rape) has been
pressed to get the oil out. It is mainly used in animal feed, so if you
go down to the rural outlet you can pick it up there. If you have an
oil extraction factory on your doorstep, then you won't have to go too
far to find it.
In order to make your homemade organic plant feed you can mix the whole
lot in a 20 quart container, using a 1 quart bottle as a measure for
the parts. This recipe is based on volume, not weight, and it doesn't
have to be very accurate to work.
The seed meal and lime on its own will grow an excellent organic
garden. These are really our main 2 ingredients that are essential to
this recipe. Blood and bone is easy to find, as is dolomite. For the
rest of the ingredients, if you can't find them, don't stress. Just
find whatever else you can, it will be enough, as long as you have the
first 3 ingredients your gardens will flourish.
Seed meal is stable and will keep for years, as long as it is stored in
a dry container. Blood and bone, also called tankage is originally from
abattoirs however, you can also find this now at your gardening stores.
Bone meal you can pick up from your butchers.
Agricultural lime, gypsum and dolomite are 3 different limes some with
calcium only, some with magnesium as well, but these are the 3 limes to
use when organic gardening. Do not use any hot limes such as quicklime
or burnt lime.
Finally, if you can't find kelp meal, which, when you do, you may find
very expensive, you can foliar feed your plants with a seaweed/ kelp
liquid such as Seasol or something similar.
I use Seasol on my vegetable plants every 2 weeks during the growing
period which allows me up close and personal with the plants and I can
see if there are any insects I need to control, or possible stress in
the plants that needs addressing.
How to Use your Homemade Organic Garden
First of all, you need to make sure that your garden soil
has been well
dug over and mixed with well rotted compost and barnyard manure at
least 2 - 3 months before planting. At the same time, add 4 - 6 quarts
of homemade fertilizer over 100 square feed of soil. Just lightly hoe
into the soil. Let the soil animals do the rest of the work for you.
This garden fertilizer is ideal for all low demanding plants and
vegetables such as carrots, beans, beets, parsley, peas etc. However,
if you are growing roses and tomatoes which are both heavy feeders then
you will need to apply a side dressing. Apply moderately a little away
from the root system every 3 to for weeks. In a growing season, never
apply more than another 4-6 quarts as a side dressing, per 100 square
If you live in a hot climate
you should think about mulching your
plants to not only keep the weeds down but to retain as much water in
the soil as possible.
Mulching slows down the need for watering, and
also minimizes the stress that plants endure in harsh climates.
Some plants never recover from periods of no water and so you need to
make sure that your plants receive regular watering.
However, over watering is just as bad as under watering. If you are not
sure when to water your garden test the soil. If your fingers feel damp
when you stick them into the soil around the plants hold off for
another day. If not, then water.
It is better to deep water several times a week rather than to shallow
water everyday. This is because when deep watering you are encouraging
the plants to grow larger roots allowing them to seek the much needed
nutrients in the soil, rather than to develop shallow roots and then
run out of nutrients.
Pest control is the major problem when
gardening. One day your roses
are fine, and the next day you have aphids all over the buds and stems.
What do you do?
So many of us have reached for the latest and greatest commercial pest
control products that have indescriminately destroyed good bugs along
with the bad, have poisoned our waterways and rivers and can still be
found in our soils decades after some of these insecticides and
pesticides have long been banned and taken off the shelves.
For the organic gardener, we look to see how we can minimize the
effects of garden pests. First of all we need to identify garden pests
that are around, and then look for solutions. These can be through a
number of ways:
Release good bugs into the garden to eat the bad bugs.
Plant our gardens in such a way that some plants confuse the bugs. Companion
planting is a well known method of insect
There are many organic gardeners that practise straight
gardening, and then there are others that are organic gardeners but
plant using slightly different methods. I don't see one method better
than another. When I garden, I pick and choose from all of them, and so
have a very eclectic approach, rather than having a purist point of
However, you can read up on each of them and decide for yourself. This
list is certainly not exhaustive, but gives you an idea that there is a
lot of scope when gardening, which really is part of the fun, isn't it.
You can be a total gardening rebel and no one will give a damn!
Gardening by Moon Planting
your gardening. I find my garden a place where I can escape to when
things get too much sometimes. I find weeding very theraputic and love
to sit of an evening time and enjoying the perfumes, the blooms and the
beauty of my labors. I am sure that your garden will bring you as much
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