If you’re looking for a rewarding organic gardening experience, an DIY kitchen garden in your back yard is a great place to start. It will help you lower your food bill, especially if you’re buying expensive organic produce at the grocery store. As well, by growing your own delicious organic produce, you can reduce the amount of pesticides you and your family consume.
There’s no need to start big when it comes to organic gardening, especially if you’re a novice. Start small with a DIY kitchen garden that will make just enough food for you to use in your kitchen.
Below are some useful tips on how to get started. Keep in mind that we won’t be using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers at all.
1. Get the Right Tools
You’ll need the following tools to make your DIY organic garden:
- Ergonomic trowel set
- Breathable garden gloves
- Soil test kit
- Compost Bin
- Lightweight watering can
- Access to a table saw (if you want to make a wood compost frame)
2. Soil Preparation
You need to properly condition the soil that you use, as this will determine the quality of your plants. The soil must have enough nutrients to produce productive plants. Chemical treatments will harm your food and harm beneficial bacteria, microbes, and worms in the soil.
You can test your soil using a home soil test kit. On the other hand, you can take a soil sample to your local agricultural extension office where they will test it for a small fee. Ensure that you get information on nutrient levels, pH levels, and treatment recommendations.
Whoever tests you soil needs to know that you are going organic. This way, you will get the right recommendations for soil preparation. Make sure the soil contains plenty of humus, as this will be the major component in providing nutrients to your organic plants.
In addition, you will need manure from a local farm where they can provide livestock manure that is organically made.
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3. Making Good Compost
Good compost consists of carbon and nitrogen in the right ratio mixed with water, soil and air. This may sound complicated, but you do not have to make perfect compost at first, you will learn with time. You can use a simple table saw to make a four-dimensional wood frame where you can store this compost.
Here’s the procedure for making the frame:
- Measure a three-foot square space where you will store your compost heap. You can also use a bin or custom pen that you can rotate to ensure good results and maturation of your compost.
- Add layers of carbon, garden trimmings and leaves, as well as nitrogen in the form of green material. This may include manure and kitchen scraps. You can top this off with at least 6 inches of soil.
- Ensure you turn the pile every time you add new layers, as this will keep the manure moist and foster microbe action. Expect results within two months, if it’s warm.
- Your compost pit should not smell if it is well maintained. If it does, add dry carbon material in the form of straw, sawdust or leaves, and keep turning the pile.
4. Choose the Right Plants
Ensure that you select a plant that can thrive in the small kitchen garden. The plants should be able to adjust to the moisture, light, soil quality, and drainage. Pests are less likely to attack plants that adapt to their environment.
If you choose to buy seedlings, choose ones that are organic. Check at your local farmer’s market to avoid seedlings that have been raised using pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The local farmers market will have native organic seedlings that can thrive in your kitchen garden.
Furthermore, there are plants that you can easily grow from seeds. They include cucumber, sweet peas, morning glories, larkspur, coriander, dill, sunflowers, annual phlox, and annual lupine, among others.
5. Planting Crops
Raised beds are the best option for organic gardening. You will not have to walk on the soil where the plants grow. In addition, grouping your plants will help reduce water waste and weeding.
Place enough space between the rows for better aeration, which will also repel fungal attacks. Limit overshadowing of your crops by thinning or spacing the plants as they grow.
6. Water Appropriately
Water your plants in the mornings as there will be less wind at this time. As well, it is normally cooler in the mornings, which means less evaporation. Watering them in the evening brings about the risk of bacterial diseases and fungal attacks, as the soil remains damp overnight.
Ensure you weed using your hands, as this will give you a chance to locate all the weeds. In addition, using mulch will prevent too many weed and protects the soil.
You do not want to use pesticides in your organic garden. If you find that there are pests, consider factors such as moisture, nutrients and light. Furthermore, diversify your plant production, as pests like to ravage gardens with one type of plant.
Use biological means to fight the pest. You can use lizards, frogs, toads, and birds. Insects that can help you fight pests include ladybugs. You can manage to get these friendly predators by leaving a small dish of water near the garden. This will attract toads, frogs and lizards.
If you follow these tips, you are sure to harvest abundantly from your organic garden. Have fun!
Alex is a firewood cutting fan and a chainsaw expert. He owns a ranch in Montana where he lives with his wife and son. He is a tech cowboy who enjoys writing his blog ElectroSawHQ.com.
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