The benefits of raising an organic garden are immeasurable. Organic gardening is great for the environment, and it can be a fun and interesting science project for families. Gardens can either be a personal shrine or the heartbeat of an entire community; neighborhoods are greatly enriched when its members come together to tend and harvest beautiful, nutritious, homegrown food.  

Growing your own food carries more satisfaction than simply purchasing it in the market. Nurturing the plants and harvesting their produce makes mealtimes meaningful and the full flavor and nutritional value of freshly picked fruits and veggies is very nourishing. Connecting with the earth and playing in the dirt carries additional health-promoting benefits since good “bugs” live in natural soil.

Anyone can enjoy the benefits of organic gardening! City dwellers often rely on small spaces which can yield a surprising amount of crops. You can even use deep terra cotta pots on your balcony or porch area to raise a few tomatoes of certain varieties, squashes, peppers and herbs.

Time to plan a garden is right around the corner, so check out these few tips for raising an organic garden:

1. Choose what to plant

Consider the space you have and difficulty level of raising certain produce. If your time is very limited, it’s best to stick with lower-maintenance crops, usually herbs.

2. Select seeds

Make sure you buy organic seeds and follow the directions on the package. If you are not an experienced gardener you may find it easier to either volunteer in your local community garden to learn from others or purchase young plants that are already started and ready to go into your soil.

3. Prepare the dirt

If you’re putting your plants directly in ground soil, you will need to loosen it and sift through for excessive rocks, weeds or other obstructions; however, if you are using your side yard take care not to chop into water pipes or gas lines! Connect with local utility companies to find out where lines and pipes are buried before you dig. Your planting soil should be at least a foot deep for best root growth, and you may need to import some good topsoil.

Conduct a quick test with vinegar and another with baking soda to get an idea about the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. This is important for determining what kinds of compost your soil needs for best fertility.  Follow this link to learn how:  http://bit.ly/1SPYu0e

4. Fertilize

Either start a compost bin with raw vegetable leftovers and yard debris such as grass clippings and leaves or purchase an organic compost mixture to mix in with ground soil from your local nursery. The mixtures are usually pretty well-balanced to make sure your plants get their main 3 nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Expert local nurseries should be able to advise you on organic sources of alkaline and acidic compost components to add to your soil.

5. Invite gardener’s friends

Attract beneficial insects to your garden versus employing the use of pesticides. Lady bugs are a farmer’s best friend since they will relieve your garden of aphids and spider mites that will turn your garden into their feast. Plant florals such as marigolds around the border of your vegetables to attract pollinators – yes, you want bees in your garden! Foster a suitable environment to keep earthworms happy and well fed since they make soil-aerating tunnels that help roots spread. Lavender helps to repel ants. Coleus can be present to kindly ask dogs and cats to stay away.

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