Organic Gardening Beginner
By Ted Begnoche
As more and more people start “going green”, organic gardening is becoming a bigger part of our lives. Even stores like Wal-Mart are starting to carry more organic produce and organic products as the demand for them grows.
Many people aren’t sure why they should even bother gardening organically. It can certainly pose problems with crop loss, soil quality, diseases, and expense.
When you raise plants in your garden, you invest a lot of time and money. It can be absolutely devastating to lose a large percentage of your plants to disease or pests after working so hard and investing so much into them.
In this report, I’m going to teach you some of the best tactics for growing plants organically. I’ll teach you how to deal with common problems once they arise, and how to prevent many problems from occurring in the first place!
There are a number of problems and issues that can arise in organic gardens. One of the most common problems, obviously, is the lack of a way to effectively kill or repel insects and other garden pests.
Fortunately, this is easy to cure. There are many ways to control pests in a garden without the use of harsh pesticides.
Another common problem is the lack of chemical fertilizer. Soil quality can be a major problem for organic gardeners who are used to adding a lot of chemicals to their soil to improve it. This can be overcome by using various organic materials to enrich the soil before you plant, and by using various types of organic fertilizer.
Diseases are another issue. You have to take some steps to minimize disease, especially if you use seeds that are not genetically engineered to be disease-resistant.
Organic Pest Control
Pest control is the biggest problem that organic gardeners typically face.
Pests, left alone, can rip an entire garden apart in a day or two. You have to do something, obviously.
There are a few different ways to control pests in your garden. You need to either get rid of them, or you need to prevent them from invading your garden altogether.
Gardening indoors is a fantastic way to control pests. Typically, when you garden indoors in containers or hydroponically, you will have few or no pests. You will also have to deal with fewer diseases, and controlling the quality of the soil is much easier.
You can grow almost anything indoors that you could grow outdoors, but you have to make sure to keep the temperature controlled well, and you have to ensure there is enough lighting to support the plants.
Another good way to control pests is by planting special plants that help keep pests away. Certain plants will repel certain types of pests.
|Here is a chart that will give you some ideas for plantings:
|Garlic||Aphids, flea beetles, cabbage worms, ticks|
|Catnip||Beetles, squash bugs|
|Marigolds||Snails, aphids, maggots, beetles, nematodes|
Certain types of pests can be spotted on plants and removed manually. For example, beetles and worms are generally easy to spot on plants, and they are usually slow and easy to grab.
When you pluck bugs off your plants, you can drop them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. Once they have been drowned, you can just pour the water out and the bugs along with it.
Organic Pest Spray
You can make a quick pest spray that will kill a lot of bugs and repel many others by mixing a few ingredients together, straining the mixture, and putting it into a spray bottle. Then you can spray the mixture directly on insects, and onto leaves to keep bugs away.
Tomato Leaf Spray
Tomato leaf sprays help protect your plants from aphids. They can also protect from earworms and tomato fruit worms.
2 cups mashed up tomato leaves 2 cups water
Combine leaves and water and allow to soak overnight. Strain well the next day, add an additional 2 cups of liquid to make a total of about 4 cups, then place the liquid in a spray bottle and spray the tops and undersides of leaves, especially the lower leaves of plants aphids target.
Garlic Oil Spray
Garlic is a powerful insect repellant, and you can use it to keep many pests away from your plants. It may also be a fungicide that can help protect your plants from fungal infections.
3 ounces finely minced garlic 2 tsp. mineral oil
Combine and soak for at least 25 hours. Then add 1 pint of water and ¼ cup liquid soap or insecticidal soap. Straight well and store in a glass jar. When needed, mix 2 Tbsp. of the mixture into 1 pint of water and spray onto plants.
Many types of insects are very helpful for controlling other types of insects. They may eat other insects, kill them, or even lay their eggs inside them. By attracting them to your garden or buying them and releasing them, they can control insects for you. Ladybugs are the most common type of beneficial bug. They can kill and eat very large quantities of aphids and mites that can destroy plants, so they are extremely helpful to have around. Trichogramma wasps do not sting humans, but they can kill at least 28 different species of pests, including cotton bollworms, codling moths, and corn borers.
Soldier beetles are related to fireflies. They kill and eat aphids, caterpillars, and grasshopper eggs, and are also extremely beneficial as pollinators. This is especially important since the massive decline of the honeybee population in recent years.
Green lacewings kill and eat many types of insects, larvae, and eggs. They can control aphids, mites, caterpillars, and other types of pests. They are also helpful as pollinators.
Many types of beneficial insects can be purchased online or through catalogs. Once you receive them, you simply release them into your garden and allow them to feed naturally on garden pests.
Many varieties of birds eat insects. You can attract birds to your garden by planting plenty of flowers, providing the birds water in bird-baths, and giving them plenty of shelter with bird houses.
Some types of birds also enjoy eating seeds in addition to insects, so placing a bird feeder in your yard with a variety of seeds can also help attract birds to your yard. They will then feed on garden pests in addition to the seeds you have made available.
The quality of your soil is very important to the health of your plants and to their ultimate yield. The healthier your soil, the more you will get to harvest, the stronger your plants will be, and the bigger your fruits and vegetables will ultimately grow.
There are two main ways to improve the quality of your soil. The first way is to improve it before planting by mixing organic compost into the soil. The second is to brew a special organic fertilizer that is made somewhat like tea.
Composting is the process of taking organic material and rotting it down into rich fertilizer. All you have to do is take kitchen scraps and place them into a compost pile or in a compost bin, and let nature take its course. You may need to turn the compost occasionally for the best effect.
You can compost almost any kitchen scraps, but there are a few things you should never put in your compost:
Bread or other baked goods
Human or animal feces, except herbivore manure
Meat products, bones, blood, and animal fats
Milk products of any kind
Rice (attracts pests and breeds bacteria)
Sawdust (can be chemically-treated)
Walnuts (toxic to some plants)
You can also compost indoors by using a worm bin. A worm bin is a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid that can hold organic waste material from your house, along with worms. The worms break down the organic material you add, and turn it into a rich compost. Their castings (poop) are extremely good for the soil. You can then take the material that is produced in the bin and mix it directly into garden soil.
You can make a very rich tea for fertilizing plants by combining fish bones and other parts and seaweed in a bucket of water and letting it soak for a few days. This will be VERY smelly, so you should do this outdoors in a bucket that has a very tight-fitting lid.
After allowing the fish parts and seaweed to soak for a few days, carefully strain all of the solid material out and dump the water on your crops. You don’t need to put more than a cup on each plant, because it is very strong and very effective.
Organic Seeds and Plants
Whenever you buy seeds from a nursery or garden shop, you should look specifically for organic seeds. Seeds that are not organic will generally come from plants that were grown with pesticides and other chemicals.
Additionally, most garden shop seeds are hybrid seeds. They may be genetically modified or engineered. Hybrid seeds are produced when plants are artificially cross-pollinated in order to improve certain characteristics in the plants that are grown from the seeds.
This can improve yield, appearance, disease resistance, etc., but it may reduce flavor and even vitamin content.
Whenever possible, choose heirloom varieties of plants and seeds. Heirloom varieties are not genetically engineered or modified, and they are not artificially cross-pollinated. If you choose organically grown heirloom varieties, you will have the most natural plants possible.