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Six Steps to Growing an Organic Vegetable Garden Without Giving Up Your Life
I’ve wanted an organic vegetable garden for years, but since I lived in apartments until I got married, I could only grow a few plants in a pot here and there. So I was excited when my husband and I bought our house and I finally had a yard where I could start a garden.
I waited until my son was about a year old and then started planning a spring garden. I couldn’t wait. Fresh, home grown organic food and a lower food budget will soon be mine.
If I remember how I loved eating sugar snap peas straight off the vine when I was a kid, peas were one of the first crops I planted. I had even grown them in pots with some success so I was sure they would do well with a little maintenance.
About six weeks after sowing the seeds, the now flowering pea plants were covered with aphids. Determined to maintain an organic vegetable garden, I tried all natural means: hosing them off, buying ladybugs at the nursery, spraying with a natural repellent.
All to no avail. I lost every plant to whatever disease the aphids had spread and didn’t harvest a single pea pod that year.
If my story is true, then you know how difficult gardening – especially organic gardening – can be to fit into an already full schedule. But there is a way. Over the last couple of years I have learned some valuable lessons about how to manage an organic vegetable garden without having to devote all of your free time to it. Let me share them with you…
1. Start small and stay small until you have more free time. Especially mothers with babies and toddlers need to be patient. I would have done much better, the year my peas were destroyed, if I had tended a small ball of lettuce in the spring, then grown a few tomato plants, and maybe a cucumber, in the summer.
If you really want to grow some of your own vegetables but don’t think you have time for a garden, read up on container gardening. Anyone can find time to care for five potted plants a day, especially since container gardens tend to be close to home, so you’re more likely to remember to check on them. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Find time to check on your plants at least every other day. Especially if you have restrained yourself from planting a very large organic vegetable garden, carefully checking each plant for diseases and pests on alternate days will not take much time. But the time you invest in doing so will pay off big. You will be able to find pests and recognize the early stages of disease before they have a chance to completely wipe out your crops.
3. Try companion planting. When you plant a variety of herbs and flowers among your vegetables, you help both repel pests and attract beneficial insects that eat the pests. And the fewer pests you have to deal with, the less time you have to spend in the garden.
4. Write down your lubrication schedule in a diary or journal that you look at often. If you over fertilize, you end up with a lot of foliage and not a lot of harvest. Underfertilization will result in poor plant appearance and small fruits. Different crops have different feeding requirements, so being organized in this area of gardening will really pay off.
5. Set up an easy watering system. Some people spring for an underground irrigation system. If that’s a little out of your budget, place soaker hoses about an inch below the ground where you’re going to plant. Being able to light a spigot and leave it on for twenty minutes is a lot easier than dragging a hose around the yard.
If you’re planning on container gardening, consider investing in self-watering planters or even making some yourself. You can find instructions for doing this online.
6. Consider raised bed gardening. Or, at the very least, cover your garden heavily. Either way it will save you a lot of weeding (I have practically no weeds in my raised beds). Raised beds are also much easier to dig because of the loose soil.
Growing your own organic vegetable garden, even if your days are full, is possible. Follow these tips and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by delicious food from a garden you’ve spent just a few minutes a day tending.
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