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Organic gardening can seem intimidating. You want fresh flowers or nutritious fruits and vegetables but you don't want to use pesticides or other chemicals that can end up on your dinner plate. Some common garden supplements can poison animals or pollute groundwater. How do you tend a successful and plentiful organic garden without synthetic help? Follow these basic tips to give your garden a solid start.
A successful garden begins with great dirt. Pick a sunny spot where your plants will get at least six hours of direct sun each day. Remove rocks and other objects that will interfere with plant growth. Break up the soil up to 12 inches below the surface and add natural compost or mulch several inches deep. Use a variety of plants to help discourage pests and disease. Test your soil to determine what sort of nutrients it may need. Your local garden store should carry a garden soil test kit.
Make sure your garden has sufficient sun, water and nutrition since an imbalance of any of these can encourage disease or certain insect pests. Use natural insecticides such as garlic oil or hot pepper spray or liquid soaps to discourage insect infestation. Encourage the presence of lizards, birds, spiders, frogs, ladybugs and other insect-eating predators to help reduce damaging garden visitors such as hungry caterpillars. Black-eyed Susans, daisies and sunflower are also known to attract beneficial bugs to gardens. To discourage larger garden guests such as rabbits or deer, you may want to use netting or a fence around your plot.
It is easy to create your own organic compost and your garden will thank you for it. Compost can be used as a natural fertilizer and will help control weeds and pests as well as a commercial and potentially toxic pesticide. Make your own compost by creating a three-foot square pile that consists of garden trimmings, vegetable and fruit scraps and soil or manure. Alternate the brown leaves and trimmings from the garden with a layer of soil followed by a layer of plant-based kitchen scraps. Top this with a six-inch layer of soil. Leave the pile to decompose for about two months. Turn the pile each time new scraps are added. Eggshells, coffee grounds and tealeaves can also be included.
Plan Your Planting
Using raised planters will make it easier to work in your garden and harder for certain bests to dine on it. Organize plants close together to conserve water and mulch, but provide enough air and growing space to help prevent disease from spreading between rows. If you are a beginning gardener, try resilient plants such as zucchini, Swiss chard and snow peas.
The most sustainable way to water your organic garden is to collect rainwater in a barrel or gray water recycling system and distribute it among your plants. Use a drip system to deep soak the garden or water by hand at the roots. Watering early in the morning will help prevent evaporation and make the best use of your water resources.