Why NOT? ...Plant an Organic Garden

Wouldn't it be nice to just run into the yard and grab some herbs or vegetables for dinner? Get a quick desert of fresh strawberries, and top it up with whip cream. WHY NOT…do it… plant your own Organic Garden.

While many of the steps for creating an organic garden are similar to starting any type of garden, there are a few noticeable differences. For example, there is a lot more work up front, planning and analyzing the site. This work is essential for any organic garden: ideal conditions result in healthier plants, fewer pest and disease problems, and a more care-free garden.

Step One: Know what you want

You need to know what your goals are for your new garden. Are you looking for curb appeal? Maybe you want a vegetable or herb garden, or just a beautiful flower garden. You need to know what it is you want to grow, so you can decide the ideal location for it.

It's also important to be realistic. It's best to start with something small and manageable. You can always expand later. Keep expansion in mind as you consider your site.

Step Two: Find the right Spot

Analyze your yard. Keep your goal in mind and start observing areas of your yard that look like they'll work. Spend a few days observing it. Keep in mind how many hours of sun it will get and when is the sun shining on it?  What's the soil like? An herb or vegetable garden will need a site that gets at least six hours of sun per day. You'll also need to make sure that the site drains well—if it's like a swamp in the spring and summer, it won't work for herbs and vegetables, which prefer well-drained soil. An ornamental bed would be great somewhere you can enjoy from inside your house as well.

Step Three: Creating the Bed

It's time to start digging. First decide on the size and shape of your new garden. Whether it is grass, gravel, or an existing planting, you will need to completely clear the area. This is the hardest part of the entire process, but once it's done it will make the rest of the process a breeze. There are other methods of making a new garden bed, but if you want your bed to be ready for planting now, digging is the way to go.

Step Four: Amend the Soil

Good soil = plenty of compost.  Either you can make your own, or purchase it in bags at any garden center. 

Step Five: Plant Selection

AND NOW THE FUN PART: your garden is ready for plants. Time to hit the nursery and make your selections

It's getting easier to find organically-grown plants in many home and garden centers. If you are starting your garden early in the season, you can select organic seeds and start your own plants. Organic plants and seeds will always clearly be labeled as such. There are also several good catalogs that sell organic plants.

As far as the plants themselves, be sure to closely inspect any plant before you bring it home. Look for signs of insect or disease problems. Remove the plant from the pot and inspect the root system. Does it look healthy and robust, or is it straggly and weak? If the plant is rootbound, you can still purchase the plant, but you will need to slice the root ball before planting so the roots will start growing out.

Step Six: Time to Plant

Give your plants a “tall” drink of water. A thoroughly moist root ball will help your plant adjust better to its new surroundings, lessening transplant shock.

Dig a hole just as deep and at least twice as wide as the root ball of your plant. Place the plant in your prepared hole, backfill with the soil you removed, tamp it in, and water it thoroughly.

Once you have all of your plants in, give the entire garden a three inch layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark, hay, chopped leaves, or grass clippings. This will keep weeds down while retaining soil moisture.

Step Seven: Label

Not necessary, but a good idea.  You have 2 options: put a little plant label near each plant, or  make a map of the garden to keep for future reference.  EASY! 

An Organic garden takes some work, but I think the BENEFITS are worth it.