Starting A Organic Vegetable Garden By Tom Husnik

I’morganic garden planting a fare sized organic vegetable garden this year.

My goals: to add fresh vegetables to our diet, educate my son about healthful eating, enjoy better-tasting produce, and save money!

I just took a class at a local organic farm. Here are the basics of what I learned.

Overall

  • Pay closer attention to the soil (versus the plant). If you feed the soil “organic matter” such as compost and manure, your soil will feed the plants the nutrients they need.
  • Control pests and diseases without chemicals by giving your plants a heartier start, mulching, and allowing “beneficial” insects to control harmful bugs. If needed prevent bugs from entering a garden by planting strong herbs around the edges of the garden.
  • Plant the seeds in flats or shoebox-size containers, not into individual cell packs. This way, you don’t have empty cells if some don’t germinate.
  • Look for a seed-starting mix approved for organic use (processed according to the rules of the National Organic Program). Use soilless peat moss and mix in equal parts vermiculite and perlite. I found a starter that’s premixed.
  • Always put in a third more seeds than you need, as germination is never 100 percent.
  • For transplanting, use a potting mix with plenty of compost such as “Ideal Compost” so the plants have plenty of nutrition as they grow.
  • Transplant into cell packs (or the ground) as soon as there are two true leaves. This is the second set of leaves (not the little cotlydons or seed-leaves).
  • When you transplant, hold the base of the leaves, not the stem. The stem is the stomach of the plant. If it breaks, throw it out, as it won’t grow.
  • If you transplant into cell packs, turn the packs each day if the sun is coming from one direction. Gently brush over plants with a stick to get strong stems.
  • After 4 weeks, top with a mix of compost and “Pro-Grow” (found in many garden stores), an organic waste product that supplements the nutrient needs of plants. After 4 weeks, the plants have used up what was in the potting mix.
  • As you keep the soil watered, remember that the goal is to keep it as “damp as a wrung-out sponge.”

Starting Seeds

Transplanting Seeds

When you’re ready to plant in the ground, be sure that your soil is ready. Before adding compost and organic matter, get a soil test–for a small fee–through your local extension service. Then, you’ll know what your soil needs to be productive.

Hope you found these pointers helpful.

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