Organic Gardening Basics

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Most of us have heard of the dirty dozen list or at least noticed the organic section in our supermarket. Prices for organic or locally-grown produce are often higher than the price of conventional produce, but the difference in quality can be significant.

If you ‘re considering growing your own produce, join organic gardener Scott Meyer, editor of Organic Gardening magazine, for a step-by-step walk-through of the organic gardening basics.

What do we need to start?

1. Select an area with a plenty of sun: It should get 8-10 hours a day during the summer season.
2. Select an area with good drainage;  you don’t want standing water to attract unnecessary bugs or fungus.
3. Start with a small area of approximately 4 feet by 8 to 10 feet and expand gradually; the 4-foot width allows you to work the area without ever stepping inside once you’ve turned the soil, which you want to avoid.

You only need a few basic tools to get started:

  • 4 wooden or metal stakes to mark your area
  • large spade with a sharp edge
  • garden fork with wide spacing

Alternately, you can create an organic base on top of the soil with a simple “lasagna” method:
Lay down a layer of newspapers followed by some straw, grass clippings or any other organic matter; this creates rich garden environment. This works if you’re starting in early spring or fall.

Next steps:

  • Add compost–either homemade or commercially produced–and work it into your soil.
  • Use mulch–like grass clippings, straw or leaves–to prevent weeds from coming up; mulch also helps conserve water in your soil.

organic gardening basics

Spring is a great time to start, but if that’s not possible you can even start your garden in the middle of the summer. Hot-weather vegetables like peppers, corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beans (although some bean varieties will not bear fruit with temperatures over 85 degrees F), garlic and eggplant are excellent choices. You can buy full-grown plants in your local farmers’ market or garden center; some beans–green beans, for example–can also be planted from seeds. Most herbs can be planted in mid to late summer. You can even plant in the fall: All leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and kale can be started from seeds or small plants.

Happy gardening!

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