This article is meant to serve as an overview for organic vegetable gardening. It will briefly cover the various aspects of it, with each section linking out to articles that cover that area in much more depth, should you need more information.
I will also throw in a few jokes along the way, because that is just how I roll.
WHY GO ORGANIC?
There are a ton of reasons to go organic with your vegetable garden.
First off, it’s just healthier. Organic gardening relies on a much healthier, balanced soil, leading to higher levels of vitamins and minerals in the food produced. You can also avoid all kinds of nasty things, like chemical pesticides and herbicides (that are carcinogens and poisons in many cases), toxic additives and genetically modified food.
Second, organic gardening is sustainable. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides creates imbalances in the ecosystem of and strips nutrients from the soil. It creates a cycle not too different from addiction, where the chemicals need to be used, and often in increasing amounts, to get the same effect and avoid a crash. Years of monocropping and using these chemicals have left a lot of farmland in the US little more than a sponge incapable of growing much on its own.
And third, it’s generally inexpensive. While organic food usually costs more at the supermarket, this is usually for complex political and economic reasons, and not because the actual process of growing is significantly more expensive. An organic garden in your back yard will usually be cheaper than one that uses chemicals, while producing similar yields of much higher quality food.
Oh… and it’s better for the environment. Chemical runoff is polluting water supplies and leading to health issues in humans. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
But RamboMoe! I live in an apartment! I have no space for a garden!
Lies! All lies!
It’s possible to have a prosperous organic vegetable garden even if you don’t have the luxury of a backyard.
Check out this article to give you ideas on how to make a roof top or balcony garden.
Here’s an outline to getting an organic garden started.
1) You need a place for your garden. This can be a patch of soil in your front or back yard, A spot on your rooftop or balcony, or part of a hydroponics system.
2) You’ll need seeds or starter plants. Seeds can be found in most gardening stores, or through internet mail order.
3) You’ll need to plant your seeds in their respective growing areas. Know what kind of processes to follow for the plant you are hoping to grow. Each plant has different needs and thrives in different environments, so know these.
4) Consider starting your seeds indoors for the first few weeks or months. Seeds started indoors generally have a higher success rate.
5) Supply your plants consistently with the water, air and sunlight they need.
6) Supply your plants consistently with the nutrients they need. This could be composted material for garden plants, of nutrient solution for hydroponic plants.
TROUBLESHOOTING IN AN ORGANIC GARDEN
Here’s a guide to handling some of the issues that may come up with an organic vegetable garden.
Handling Soil Issues
The most important thing in an organic garden is a strong, balanced, well-cared-for soil. A good soil will supply the plants with the air, water and nutrients they need, making plants stronger and naturally more resistant to diseases and pests, and the environment more resistant to weeds.
To learn more about the subject, check out this article on soil improvement.
The single most important thing you can do for a soil is to constantly supply it with fresh organic material. This will replenish any nutrients the plants have taken out of the soil, as well as improve aeration (the movement of air through the soil) and the soil’s ability to hold onto water.
To learn about mulch (a protective layer over the soil, made of either organic or non-organic material) check out how to lay a mulch.
Last, check out how to make your own organic fertilizer.
After the 6 years it should take to read all that, you’ll be ready to start your garden
With a strong soil, most pest issues can be avoided. However, the time still may come when pests are a problem, and you will need to take action. Luckily, there are many ways to handle pest issues without the use of synthetic chemical pesticides.
To learn more, check out this article on organic pest control.
As with pests, most weed issues are avoided through a strong soil and preventative measures. Still, problems may arise, and these too can be handled organically in most cases, with no need for harmful herbicides.
To learn more, check out this article on organic weed control.
MATCHING VEGETABLES: CREATING A GARDEN GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
Learn what vegetables benefit each other when grown together. Some combinations work very well, and are better together than apart. Some combinations aren’t beneficial. Learn what works, as putting your plants in the right place can maximize your gardens potential with no extra effort.
To learn more, check out this article on companion planting.
Also check out What is Permaculture?
Good luck and stay prepared!