Organic gardening is an enjoyable and interesting hobby for the whole family to do together at home. An organic garden promises flowers and vegetables that will grow and thrive without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Even if you only have a balcony or a patio, containers can hold your tomatoes, herbs, peppers and even eggplants. Here's how to create an organic garden for you and your family.
Composed of sand, clay and silt, soil is the most important component of a garden. So, every few years, it’s essential to check the pH of your soil to determine, if it’s acid or alkaline. You can do this yourself with a soil testing kit or you can send a sample to a local laboratory for analysis.
Use the results to decide what nutrients to add to the soil to balance the pH. Most plants grow best in soil with a neutral pH of 7. Lower than 7 is acidic and higher means the soil is alkaline.
Made from a mixture of decomposed leaves, vegetable and fruit trimmings, grass clippings egg shells, tea leaves and left-over food scraps, compost enriches the composition and improves the texture of the soil.
Composting is a slow process, so it requires a suitable location. A large box with high sides or a mechanical compost-making drum, which turns the mixture and speeds up the decomposition process.
As an environmentally friendly source of nitrogen, magnesium and calcium, coffee grounds improve the acidity and composition of the soil. Sprinkle the grounds from your daily coffee on the surface of the soil or dig them into the soil around acid-loving plants, such as rhododendrons, azaleas or blueberries.
A layer of mulch keeps the weeds down and retains the soil’s moisture. Natural mulches include grass clippings, hay and ground hardwood tree bark. Avoid bright orange or red mulch with dye added to produce the color.
A variety of natural methods exist to control pests in the organic garden. For example, you can spray soapy water on aphids, which love nasturtiums. Put a layer of coffee grounds around the edges of a flower bed to repel slugs or place saucers of beer in which slugs will drown in various locations around the yard.
Some plants have a mutually beneficial relationship. They can attract insects, helpful to both, repel pests and provide shade or support for each other. For example, tomatoes planted close to broccoli or roses support their healthy development and growth.
The best time to water is early in the morning or late afternoon. A rain barrel for collecting the run-off from the roof of the house and garden sheds is a traditional and cost-effective method of conserving a valuable resource.
Freshly picked, organically grown, fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, essential to good health. Enjoy them in salads or delicious smoothies with a mixture of home-grown fruit and kale or spinach.