Planning an Organic Garden

Organic growing forces one to be creative when dealing with disease, weed, and pests in the garden--just planting certified organic seeds and battling with parasites and grazers until harvest will wear you out. You will not be an organic gardener for very long. There are a few things you can do in the planning stages, before you ever sow a single seed, that will make your gardening experience a little more rewarding.

Plant Your Organic Garden In The Best Spot
Organic gardening requires you to make sacrifices--place your garden not where it is most convenient, but where it is most likely to succeed.

You will need bright morning sunlight away from large, over-hanging trees (they also love to soak up valuable moisture). Morning sun will also away the night's dew in more humid areas. Constant moisture on the leaves will harbor fungal parasites.

Your site must have good drainage. Do not plant your garden in that muddy divot that never seems too dry completely.

Use Impeccable Soil
Organic White SquashPlanting Medium
Start with a clean, disease free planting medium. When you are growing an organic garden, you must have complete control over what goes into your soil. Make sure you have cultivated every bit of weed and do all you can to prevent fungal growth. Amend with peat or composted manure to get a nice rich loam that will provide your new organic garden with a well draining, nutrient rich home.

Use Earthworms
Earth worms are the organic gardeners best friend. They fix the two major deficiencies that usually affect your garden: lack of nutrients and lack of oxygen. They feed the plants and promote strong growth, keeping the soil full of all of the same elements as artificial fertilizers, but they are cheaper and safer.

Don't Pack Down or Trample Your Garden
Do not compact the soil. Your plants need oxygen to breathe just like we do--the roots need air. Don't walk on the soil in your garden. Create rows between your plants that allows you to reach them easily without treading on them.

Use Raised-Bed Gardens
Raised-bed gardens are the best way to have complete control over your soil. The soil will be 100% your own recipe, and there will be no uninvited creatures or weeds. Building a raised bed is really easy, no more difficult than construction a child's sandbox.

Choose Plants Wisely
Choose your plants well. Know your USDA hardiness zone and research plants before you buy seeds. Many varieties have tolerances that would be a great match for your garden. Many varieties resist insects and fungus--some are tolerant to drought or frost. This kind of knowledge could ensure a very successful organic garden.

Two Vital Tips for Ongoing Organic Care
Always rotate
Rotate as often as every other year if possible. Planting the same plants in the same spot year after year will drain your soil of all of its nutrients. Rotating will save you some work through the growing season, and keep your soil healthy for future planting.

Mix it up
Do not group like varieties too tightly. Your parasites and grazers will capitalize on this. You want to make it as difficult as possible to feed on your garden.

Back to The Park Gardener's Handbook