Growing your own herbs, vegetables, and fruit is an awesome first step toward living a more healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, too many gardeners still reach for chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers without realizing how much they are undermining their own efforts to get healthy.
No worries! There are much healthier and environmentally friendly solutions available. Read on for more…
Chemical-Free Gardening in 5 Easy Steps
Step #1: Pick Your Plants
You may already have a good idea what you plan to grow in your garden based on the fresh produce you and your family like to eat. For most people, that part is easy. However, there are so many unique varieties of each plant – it can take some time to figure out which ones will earn a spot in your garden each season.
Tip:I always keep a running list of my tried-and-true must-have favorites with a list of varieties I want to try in my handy garden journal. Otherwise, I would never remember from one season to the next. 🙂
Once you’ve sorted this part out, decide if you want to purchase plants or start your garden from seeds. If you start early enough and have the time and space available, you can save some money by starting with seeds. However, it does take a little skill to be successful at it.
If not, you can often find plants grown without chemicals for sale at your local nursery or online.
Step #2: Prepare Your Soil
Your soil is the foundation of your garden, so you need to make sure it’s full of the right nutrients to feed your plants. Adding rich organic material, such as aged compost, is a great first step to creating a welcoming growing environment for your plants.
To figure out what your soil needs, pick up an inexpensive soil-testing kit, like this one, (affiliate link) to determine its pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium levels.Once you know what your soil needs, you can add the appropriate amendments for the specific plants you are growing.The proper soil conditions can make the difference between a sparse crop and award-winning vegetables.
Step #3: Organize Your Garden
Before transferring your plants or seedlings into your garden, figure out where you’re going to plant them. Make sure you pay attention to spacing requirements (and if planting from seed, don’t feel bad about thinning the little buggers out to give the strongest ones enough space to flourish).
you know some plants naturally protect other plants from disease and pests? It’s true. For example, marigolds repel bugs and planting them around the perimeter of your garden will help protect your herbs, greens and veggies. So keep companion planting principles in mind as your lay out your garden design.
Step #4: Choose Natural Pesticides, Herbicides and Fungicides
I’ve read that home gardeners use more chemicals on their gardens than farmers do. I’m not sure I buy it, but if it’s true – that’s a lot of chemicals!
There are a ton on chemical-free solutions available. For example, before reaching for chemical-laden pesticide sprays and powders, consider inviting beneficial creatures into your garden to keep pests in check. Songbirds, ladybugs, and toads are easy to attract if you provide the right environment. Bird baths and toad houses are fairly inexpensive – and look good, too! 🙂 (affiliate link)
Step #5 – Maintenance.
Of course, regular watering and weeding will be required throughout the growing season. Take care to not over-water: soil should be moist, but not soaking wet. Weed on a regular basis to make sure your plants don’t have to compete for the nutrients they need.
Organic gardening isn’t difficult when you start with a healthy foundation. Before you dive in and start a huge garden, choose a few plants you know your family will enjoy. Start small – and get going!