For The Greater Goods (sm)

How to Start Your Own Organic Garden

There are numerous benefits to planting your own organic garden at home. However, getting started can often be the hardest part.  In this blog post we’ve listed some tips for starting your own organic garden.


Photo taken by: Peter Blanchard

Planning Your Organic Garden

Plan your garden before planting your seeds and plants it’ll help you produce the best harvest possible. Make a decision on what fruits, herbs and vegetables grow best in your area and find out when the best time to plant your seeds is. Find the best organic seeds you can and research locals who are willing to share seeds. Let your kids help pick out seeds to get them more involved and excited about the process!

Picking Seeds

Keep in mind when choosing seeds: less is more. It may seem like a good idea to plant every edible plant that you love to eat, but it may be better to start with a small, manageable garden in the beginning. If you plant too many of one plant, you may find yourself selling zucchini bread to all your neighbors.

Start small and expand each season. Experiment with various plants and find what grows best. Next decide how much space you can use for your garden and what your budget will be. For smaller yards, a raised garden bed works well and is very affordable. You can also make a small herb garden with pots and boxes.

Make sure your yard has adequate sun, most plants/seeds need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.  If you have limited sunlight here are some great shade tolerant plants: kale, lettuce, garlic, bok choy, potatoes, chard, carrots, spinach, turnips, scallions, beets, arugula, mustard greens, parsley, and cilantro.

Finding the Right Tools

Next, you’ll need tools.  While experienced gardeners are likely to have three times this many tools in their shed, if you are like me – someone who is just starting out, this list will give you a basic idea of the tools you’ll need to have to start you own organic garden:

  • Shovel
  • Spading fork
  • Leaf rake
  • Bow rake
  • Garden gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Trowel
  • Wheelbarrow

*If you have little ones at home, get some dirt in a shallow card board box…with her own set of garden tools, and then they can work right along with mom and dad!

Choosing Soil

Next it’s time to think about where you are going to get some great soil. If you are planning on using the existing soil, you want to make sure that no chemicals have ever been used on that soil or the grass. You then will need to add some quality organic compost to your existing soil. You can either do this by hand with a pitch fork and some muscle or you can easily rent a rotary tiller from your local hardware store or borrow from a neighbor.

If you are planning on using raised beds, you can either buy organic compost by the bag for small beds or for larger beds you probably will need to seek out someone local who can deliver bulk organic compost. Always keep in mind, once you create your soil, never walk on it. Roots like to grow in loose soil, not compacted soil.

Watering Your Organic Garden

Lastly we need to talk about watering, watering definitely matters. If there is one thing that I have read and learned from others in regards to water is that: less is more.

Over-watering leads to plants with shallow, immature root systems and also creates more work for you, as your plants will come to depend on regular watering. So here is a good rule of thumb, water newly seeded areas daily and newly planted areas probably every 2-3 days.  By late spring you should only have to water every 1-3 times a week.

Now there you have it a few tips to help you make the leap to organic gardening. Have fun with it and get the family involved, celebrate Earth Day everyday by growing your own organic garden!

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I'm a firm believer that you are what you eat and I want to be fresh, local, organic and healthy! I've spent a lifetime experimenting with natural foods, different diets and ways of eating, and have settled on the food philosophy that Michael Pollan expresses so well: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I'm passionate about organic foods, natural living, cooking healthy meals, and improving my health on a daily basis.

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