Gardens are beneficial for your health, happiness and the environment. They provide a space for you to relax, unwind and re-connect with nature, as well as a habitat and shelter for local wildlife. Your health and well-being can benefit from the light physical exercise you receive from tending to your garden and the increase in fresh, clean air that the plants provide, not to mention all the vitamins and minerals you’ll get from the delicious organic fruits and veggies you grow.
The term organic means there have been no artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones or other genetically engineered substances used in the gardening and growing process. By boycotting chemicals in your garden, you are effectively lowering your carbon footprint, and by working in balance with the natural environment you are supporting local birds and wildlife.
If you want to grow your own produce at home, there’s evidence that organically grown produce is richer in nutrients than conventional produce. It also tastes better because when chemicals are used in the growing process, the crops tend to draw more water out of the soil, diluting the taste. By following the basic principles of organic gardening, you will find your garden needs less maintenance as you are working with nature, and that will do most of the work for you.
BASIC PRINCIPLE OF AN ORGANIC GARDEN
Feed the Soil
One of the most important components of any thriving garden is good, healthy soil. When it comes to a successful organic garden, you need to focus on feeding the soil, not the plants. This means instead of feeding plants with artificial fertilizers, you need to feed your soil with good-quality compost. Healthy soil will result in healthy plants, which will naturally be more resistant to disease.
Composting is a natural process that occurs when healthy bugs and bacteria decompose organic matter. Making your own compost at home is easy and very environmentally friendly as it saves on waste in your kitchen and chemicals in your garden. To get started, a good option to keep pests away from your compost and protect it from the elements is a compost container.
Next you need to decide on the healthy balance of ingredients you will make your compost from. You will need tough, slow-rotting material for the body of the mix – this can be garden clippings, egg shells, straw, cardboard and dead leaves. Softer materials like food scraps, coffee grounds and dead flowers add to the nutrition of the compost, and activator ingredients including grass cuttings and weeds will help the process along. To make sure your compost bin remains healthy, you need the right amount of air flowing through, so put a layer of twigs and cardboard on the bottom.
To avoid unhealthy bacteria and pests in your compost, avoid meat, fish, cooked food, newspapers, glossy magazines and cat and dog waste. These ingredients will leave you with an unhealthy mix in your compost bin. There is no exact science to tell when compost is ready, but there shouldn’t be any recognizable matter in the mix. The process can take anywhere from two months to one year, but some of the compost may be ready to use well before that.
Growing plants native to the region that you live in will make your organic garden cheaper and easier to manage, and will benefit the environment and local wildlife. Native plant varieties will establish quicker than imported plants and are more suited to soil conditions, eliminating the need for artificial fertilizers. One of the major benefits of having a native garden is that it will require very little water, and the plants are likely to last longer as they are less vulnerable to the dry climate.
You will also find you are saving money on your water bill and the plants won’t require as much attention and maintenance. Native plant varieties will support local wildlife, and if you plant layers including tall trees, shrubs and ground covers, you are providing food and shelter for native creatures, similar to their natural habitat. By not using harmful chemicals you will also encourage native animals to visit your garden.