gardening

Gardening and growing food organically isn’t difficult or complicated. Just remember that these are the techniques a lot of farmers have used a lot longer than modern chemical farming.

Of course, how and what you grow is going to be limited greatly by the climate where you live and how much space you have to work with. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have much of a yard (or even no yard at all). Even with just a few containers, you can get a start with organic gardening.

Regardless of the specific plants you are growing, there are a number of excellent organic techniques you will want to use to get the most out of your garden without any added chemicals.

Firstly, you will need to add natural fertilizers. The best option is either compost or aged manure. You can usually purchase large bags of manure at a garden supply shop if you don’t know anyone nearby with a barn full of it. Sometimes you can buy compost but it’s more of a do-it-yourself kind of product.

To create your own compost, get a compost bin (or even just a pile in the back corner), and add all your natural kitchen scraps to it. Vegetables, fruit, flowers, coffee grounds and eggs shells can all be added to the pile along with any yard waste. Give it a stir a few times over the summer and you will have excellent organic fertilizer the next growing season. Just mix it in with the soil as you are planting your seeds.

Next, you will have to contend with the bugs. A large insect population can ruin a harvest in a matter of days, so this is not a small part of your gardening plan. There are several excellent organic products on the market that you can use to kill and repel bugs. The best ones will have a Pyrethrum-based formula, which is an all-natural chemical that comes from the chrysanthemum and kills insects very effectively. A home-made spray with water, garlic and a touch of natural dish soap can also do wonders for repelling bugs organically.

You won’t need any herbicides for the weeds either if you use a layer of natural mulch (wood chips, straw or landscape fabric) between your plants.

Tips on how to reduce injuries while gardening

  • Make sure that the workbenches in greenhouses are built to the correct height. The correct height of a workbench is about 2 to 4 inches below the height of your elbow,
  • Back pain sufferers should take extra care when gardening. Be careful when moving pots and tubs of soil – always seek help or use a safe mechanical aid.
  • Do not buy equipment without trying it for weight, height, balance and suitability for the job. Try spades and forks with handles of different lengths.
  • Ask for help. If something is too heavy for you to lift, ask for help. Also ask for help when reaching over your head to water or pick up a plant.
  • Don’t strain, twist or reach too far in front.
  • Don’t take huge spadefulls.
  • Don’t be too proud to use a small spade.
  • Don’t dig continuously.
  • Don’t overload the wheelbarrow.
  • Don’t stoop or work too far in front of you.
  • Don’t stretch or squat with a bent back.
  • Don’t bend too far or twist to the side when starting the mower.
  • Don’t overstretch or swing Flymo’s mowers from side to side.

Garden Soil and Good Plant Health

Garden soil is generally evaluated on fertility and texture. Fertility is a combination of essential nutrients and a pH that makes these nutrients available to the plants. Texture refers to the size of the soil particles and their cohesiveness.

Garden Soil Nutrients

The three primary nutrients used by plants are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

  • Nitrogen is largely responsible for healthy leaf and stem growth. Nitrogen does not remain in the soil for long. It gets used up by your plants and by decaying matter in the soil. Nitrogen is also water soluble and can wash out of the soil rather quickly. An excess of nitrogen will cause a lot of foliage growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.
  • Phosphorus is very important for root growth. Flowering bulbs and root crops can always use some phosphorous. Phosphorus also is crucial for producing flowers. ‘Flower boosting’ fertilizers have a high phosphorus content.
  • Potassium is needed for overall plant health. It keeps the plants growing and aids their immune systems. Potassium is water soluble and needs to be replenished from time to time.

Besides nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, there are several trace elements that are necessary for good plant health like: calcium, magnesium, zinc, and molybdenum.

Garden Soil pH

PH is a measure of the soil acidity or alkalinity. The scale goes from 1.0 to 14.0, with 7.0 being neutral. The lower the pH, the more acidic the soil. The higher they go above 7.0, the more alkaline. PH is important because nutrients in the soil are only available to plants if the soil pH is within a certain range. Many plants like a pH in the low acid to neutral range (6.2 – 6.8), but that’s not true for all plants. Rhododendrons, heathers and blueberries favor very acid soils and lilacs and clematis will thrive in alkaline or even chalky soil.

Garden Soil Texture

Garden soil texture refers to the size of the soil particles. Sandy soils have very large particles. Water, air and plant roots can move freely in sandy soils. Clay-based soils contain particles are so small they pack together tightly and leave little room for water, air or roots.

The best type of garden soil is something that is in-between sandy and clay. Good garden soil should be light and allow for air and water movement, but also have a fine bread crumb like texture.

Organic Matter

Organic matter is dead plant or animal material. Organic matter is important because it encourages beneficial microbial activity and it provides some nutritional benefits. Garden soil always contains some organic matter, but it is usually not enough for your plant’s needs. Decaying organic matter, will help give your soil a fine bread crumb like texture. Organic matter helps sandy soil by retaining water that would otherwise wash away and it corrects clay soil by making it looser, so that air, water and roots can penetrate