Organic Gardening: You Can Do It!

Organic Gardening: You Can Do It!

Most people assume that organic gardening means avoiding synthetic fertilizer or chemical pesticides, but organic gardening is much more than that. Organic gardening is a philosophy of gardening that looks at a garden as part of a whole system and aims to support the health of the whole.

Organic gardening emphasizes the cultivation of an ecosystem that not only sustains but also nourishes plants, soil microbes, and beneficial insects.

Organic garden.

Organic gardeners think of their plants as part of a natural system that starts with healthy soil, a good water supply, and a healthy ecosystem of insects and even animals. Organic gardens strive to work in harmony with nature, while at the same time replenishing and minimizing any nutrients consumed by the garden.

Benefits Of Organic Gardening

While store-bought, commercially grown vegetables are more abundant and have a near perfect appearance, the benefits or growing and consuming organic vegetables and fruits are numerous.

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    Produce from organic gardens have little to no residue of commercial grade pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers. These products can contain harmful toxins or even carcinogens, that cannot be washed off.
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    Organically grown produce has more nutrients than the commercially grown variety. Since organic gardening focusses on the health of the entire ecosystem, plants have a more varied and more abundant supply of nutrients available to them.
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    Supplying your produce through your organic garden can significantly reduce your household's grocery budget while at the same time offering you the satisfaction of growing your food and knowing exactly what went into them.
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    Organic gardening is an excellent way to teach your whole family about nature and involving them in the satisfying process of watching your favorite vegetable or fruit grow up from a seed to a fully mature plant.

If these reasons are not enough to convince you to start an organic garden, you should consider that a greenhouse (even a small one) can make the entire process easier.

Can I Have An Organic Garden In A Greenhouse?

To start an organic garden in a greenhouse doesn't require a big space. There are many greenhouse sizes available, and the widespread lean-to greenhouses are small enough to fit in most city gardens and can be placed close to the kitchen.

A greenhouse provides several benefits to organic gardening:

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    They extend the growing season, sometimes even year-round.
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    They allow you to control the entire process of growth.
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    They help you regulate temperature, water, humidity, and light so you can always provide the most beneficial environment for your plants.
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    They allow you to grow your plants on a raised bench, so you can tend to your garden while standing up or sitting on a barstool.

If you are considering a greenhouse for growing organic produce, make sure you plan where the greenhouse will be placed, what type of produce you want to grow, and if you wish to do year-round gardening or not. These factors can affect the types of materials used.

7 Organic Gardening Tips For Your Greenhouse

Plan

Before choosing a greenhouse, consider the types of vegetables you want to grow. Conversely, before planting any vegetables, consider the temperatures and lighting that your greenhouse can provide.

Lightning in a greenhouse.

Successful organic garden design starts by taking into consideration the needs of the plants.

For example:

  • “Cool weather” vegetables, like broccoli and lettuce, grow best with the following temperatures:
  • Daytime: 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Nighttime: 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Don’t need direct sunlight.
  • “Warm weather” vegetables, like peppers and cucumbers prefer:
  • Daytime: 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Nighttime: 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • With lots of light.

Soil

Organic gardening starts with good soil. Purchase good organic soil for use in your greenhouse. This will ensure that the soil is free of harmful toxins and organisms that can be dangerous for your plants.

Compost

Compost is the most affordable part of your garden and probably the purest form of recycling. Start a compost bin and be careful only to add organic material. Remember that this compost will go onto your garden and thus into your produce, so keep out chemicals.

Additives

Depending on the needs of your plants you may need to add organic additives to the soil. Organic additives like manure or kelp, boost the health of the soil and act like fertilizers. 

Weeding

Remember that an organic garden is one that looks at the entire eco-system. Not all weeds are bad, and not all weeds need to be removed.

Consider that some weeds, like milkweeds, are highly attractive to beneficial insects. Some weeds such as dandelions are edible and could be added to your salad.

If you still want to get rid of weeds, you can use all the known weeding tips & tricks, as long as it doesn’t involve chemicals. Pull them, add a layer of mulch to the topsoil, add a layer of newspaper (avoid colored sections and glossy inserts as these inks contain chemicals) between layers of soil, etc.

Pest Control

One of the most effective herbicides for home organic gardening is soap. Using an organic soap, add a spoonful of soap in a gallon of water and spray the top and bottom of the leaves. Re-apply every week until pests are gone, continuing to spray every two weeks for a period. Also, think about applying the principles of “companion planting," like:

  • Onions and leeks planted next to carrots deter carrot fly.
  • Nasturtiums deter aphids.
  • French Marigold next to tomato can ward off greenfly and blackfly.
  • Peppermint, Bay leaf or Garlic deters ants

Attract the useful insects, like the pest devouring ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies by planting flowering herbs like Dill, Rosemary or Lavender.

Remove Or Pull Spent Plants

Once you have harvested your fruit and vegetables, take out older plants and put them in your compost bin. Removing them will help keep essential nutrients in the soil and discourage pests.

Woman harvesting greenhouse.

Organic gardening isn't hard, and it works. Keep in mind the basic principles of how the entire ecosystem operates so you can find simple, chemical-free solutions to create your garden.

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