Starting an Organic Garden

Hosta Garden 02The philosophy of an organic garden is to mimic natural processes to create a healthy, productive garden that is free of toxins. Organic gardening depends on a diverse assortment and healthy populations of beneficial insects, microorganisms and plants, nutrient-rich soil, and non-toxic methods of weed control. Fertility and pest problems are solved with natural biological processes.

Each garden and gardener is unique and faces different challenges. The techniques listed below will help you avoid common problems.

Start with a Plan

Get the most out of your garden by preparing and planning ahead. Determine what your goals are. Create a map of your garden and list what you would like to change or improve. Your garden map should include the dimensions of your garden, existing plantings, and soil conditions. Research what improvements you would like to make or conditions you would like to change so that you know what tools you will need, what plants are best suited to your goals, and what gardening methods will be most productive.

Check out a few sites online, such as Free Garden Plans, for examples of existing plans you can use or adapt to your site and situation.

Create a ScheduleSchedule 01

Create a schedule for what you want to do and when you need to do it. Be realistic! Most gardeners cannot completely transform their gardens in a few weekends so stagger the work.  It is likely you will not be able to do everything that you would like in a single season. Determine what tasks need to be accomplished and in what order. Do this not only for the coming growing season, but for two or three years into the future, to lay a solid foundation on which to advance toward your gardening objectives.

Take an Inventory

Create a list of tools and supplies that you already have, and compare it to the list you made during the planning stage of what you will need. Buy what you need in advance so that you have it in hand when you begin working.

In our next post, we will discuss how to make organic compost and improving your soil. Following that, we will discuss organic garden supplies, record keeping, pest management, disease prevention, and weed control.


Chemical-Free Yard & Garden: The Ultimate Authority on Successful Organic Gardening, Fern Marshall Bradley, Editor