Growing organic vegetables is a perfect way to know you are eating healthy. The term organic means you are not using any type of chemicals for fertilization or pest control. Starting a kitchen garden is the perfect way to start your journey to grow your own organic vegetables. Your kitchen garden may be a salsa garden, growing tomatoes, peppers, and garlic. Or it could be a salad garden, growing lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. When you grow your own vegetables you will know for sure that what you eat is truly organic and has not been sprayed with harmful pesticides or treated with synthetic fertilizer. After all, you are what you eat.
Step One-The best way to begin growing organic vegetables in your garden is to start from the soil. Organic gardeners add organic amendments to the soil to keep it healthy and rich with nutrients. Think of the soil as a living thing. There are millions of microorganisms living in healthy soil, which in turn helps you to produce healthy crops. The first step is to test your soil by taking it to a local cooperative extension in your area. When it is tested you will find out what type of soil you have; sand, silt, or clay. This test will also determine the ph of your soil. Many soils are low in organic matter, which consists of plant and animal residues. This organic matter is a central component to beneficial ecological processes. Recommendations will be given to you as to what organic amendments your soil needs for a hearty, successful kitchen garden. Common suggestions are to add lime if the soil’s ph is low. Or add elemental sulfur if the soil’s ph is too high. Compost products are also commonly used to add organic matter to your soil.
Step Two-Now that your soil is filled with key nutrients you are ready to plant your garden. Starter plants are readily available in all garden centers and in home improvement stores. Start simple. Plant only a one or two of each plant. This will make harvesting in two months much easier. If you plant too much you may run into too much produce that can be overwhelming. Since each plant will need to be monitored while growing this will also cut down on the time needed to tend to your garden. Leave enough growing room for your plant to flourish. Planting directions will be on the plant marker when you purchase the starter. Before digging, plan the placement of your taller growing plants in the back of the garden as not to shade the smaller plants. Unless of course, you’re planting an herb such as basil, which grows very well between the tomato plants which provide partial shade.
Step Three-Keep a list of the plants in your garden. Write down the kind of plant, where you bought it, and how long to harvest (which are all on the plant tag) so you can mark your calendar for your harvest date. If you are making salsa, you will want your mason jars ready at that time. If you are eating a salad garden you will be eating it all summer long each day. This way you will know what you need to buy at the grocery store or farmer’s market and when will not need to buy produce because you have your own! It’s a great feeling.
Step Four-Tending to your garden will mean that you should go and check on your plants each day if possible. You will need a watering schedule. The best time of day to water your plants is early morning before the sun comes up around 5 am. Now if you just rolled your ideas because you don’t get up at 5 am and you don’t have an automatic sprinkler system, don’t fret. If you have a drip irrigation hose commonly called a soaker hose, this is the next best thing. In fact, it is what I use in my gardens. This black flexible hose has holes in it to let the water drip out at a low rate. This allows the roots to soak up the water instead of sprinkling on top of the plant. Watering where the roots are is the beneficial way to water your organic garden. When using this soaker hose, leave the water on for approximately 30 minutes to ensure the garden roots are sufficiently soaked.
There are other reasons to tend to your garden daily if at all possible. It may be just a quick check to see how they are growing. It should also be to look at each plant and check for any unwanted pests that may be present. The easy way to handle that is to hand pick them off as soon as you see them.
Now it’s time to get your hands dirty or wear garden gloves like I do. Follow the four steps to start growing organic vegetables in your kitchen garden. Please let me know if you have any questions as you begin your garden journey. Thanks for your time and happy gardening!