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Guide to Planting an Organic Garden

Guide to Planting an Organic Garden

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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What to Know about Organic Gardening

Organic gardening can be one of the most confusing types of gardening for individuals wanting to create a natural alternative to store-bought fruits and vegetables. The reason that organic gardening can be confusing is due to its name. Organic gardening can mean several different things including all-natural gardening, chemical free gardening, Earth friendly gardening and non-harmful gardening. These are very broad terms that can mean different things to different people. For example an earth friendly garden may mean a complete outdoor garden that is sustainable and gives back to the Earth through composting and other methods. To someone else this may mean that no chemicals are used in fertilizers or in pesticides. As you can see, these terms can be very confusing. Here are a few things to know before starting an organic garden and about what organic gardening is.

Chemical Free

Chemical free gardening means just that. Individuals who choose to have an organic garden and a chemical free garden will avoid chemicals at all costs. This means chemicals in the fertilizer, chemicals in the soil, chemicals used to help grow the plants and pesticides that may cause harm to animal life as well as to other plant life. Any form of chemical that is used in organic gardening will negate the garden being organic.

Location

The location of an organic garden can be anywhere that the gardener sees fit. Organic gardens can be grown in hydroponic situations, aquaponic situations, container gardening methods, self watering container methods and in patio and outdoor garden areas. The location can even be in a window when window farming is used. The type of gardening and climate will depend on the type of vegetables and fruits that can be grown within the garden. For example, if an individual chooses to use containers on a patio they may limit themselves to tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage and other leafy greens. However, someone who chooses to use a window far method may be able to increase their production of kitchen herbs and leafy vegetables. On the other hand, someone who chooses to use a traditional organic gardening method may be able to grow all types of fruits and vegetables in their garden location.

Harvesting and Organic Gardening

Individuals who choose to go an organic route with their garden will need to understand that the harvesting of the garden is equally as important as the way the garden is grown and cultivated. The harvesting must not use any chemicals and must be animal and human friendly. This means no chemicals should be used in the process of harvesting the garden and no machinery should be used. Some individuals who utilize organic gardening firmly believe that using machinery will send out harmful emissions into the air causing more damage to crops and to the air around the organic garden hence making the garden no longer organic.

Composting and Organic Gardening

The compost that is used during the organic gardening process is one of the key factors in organic gardening. Many organic gardeners choose to create their own compost and utilize a compost bin throughout the year. There are various styles of composting bins. Here are a few ways that organic gardeners can create their own composting bins and utilize these been throughout the year.

Beginner Composting Bins

A beginner composting bin can be made out of a simple Rubbermaid storage container. The only aspect that a beginner gardener needs to be aware of is that the composting bin should be able to adequately hold the amount of compost will be created. To create a simple composting bin, an individual should utilize soil, kitchen scraps, and shredded newspaper to begin the compost. The compost should be stirred at least every few days. As the compost begins to develop worms can be added to the compost to create an ongoing stirring effect. This will also help fertilize the compost more and allow the compost remain organic.

Purchasing a Composting Bin

Compost bins can be purchased from a wide variety of green living and organic gardening stores. These compost bins range in size from a small outdoor bin to a large barrel size that can be turned on a crank. Depending on the type of composting you want to do and the level of organic gardening you will be doing, you should purchase a composting bin accordingly. For larger outdoor gardens a barrel size composting bin that turns on a crank is the most desirable. Composting bins can be made of wood or plastic. Many organic gardeners will argue that the plastic composting bin is not organic while others will say that if the plastic is made of recycled materials that it is in fact organic. To avoid this issue, other organic gardeners will stick with a traditional wood composting bin for the organic gardening compost.

Materials to Use in a Compost Pile

Organic materials can be used in the compost pile. Though this seems simple enough there are some issues with this. Some individuals may choose not to use coffee grounds or certain fruit peels due to the fact they may not break down properly. Other individuals may choose to use everything that can be organically broken down in the compost. For example, some individuals may choose to use cat litter, coffee grounds, coffee filters, pet and animal waste as well as newspapers and anything that is not plastic. Other individuals may choose to only use kitchen scraps which may include or may not include coffee grounds and tea bags. Overall any material, other than plastic, can be used as long as it will break down the compost pile. The best materials are organic material such as apple cores, coffee grounds, natural fertilizers, banana peels, orange peels and other various kitchen scraps.

Kitchen Compost Jars and Crocks

Though some individuals may not even know they exist, other individuals may choose to use a kitchen compost jar or kitchen crock to keep smaller amounts of waste and allow small amounts of waste to start to degrade before putting them in the compost pile. These compost crocks can be purchased at green living, green living kitchen stores and other eco-friendly locations. These crocks are generally kept on a countertop and will house everything from banana peels to coffee grounds. They are emptied out at the end of the week or two week period and placed in the outdoor compost pile. Though this may seem like extra work for some, the truth of the matter is that these kitchen compost crocks make kitchen cleanup easier and prevent kitchen scraps from being thrown into the garbage rather than using the compost pile.

Organic Gardening Indoors

Individuals that live in apartments, townhomes or in areas where they do not have a suitable backyard for gardening will choose to do indoor gardening. There is a common misconception that organic gardening can only be done outdoors. This is untrue and has been proven to be a misconception by companies that provide hydroponic, aquaponic and window farm units. Here are a few explanations and examples of ways to have an organic garden indoors to maximize the space available.

WindowFarms

A WindowFarm is an urban organic gardening method used for smaller apartments and townhomes. This unit is made out of recycled bottles, aquarium air pumps and tubing. The bottles are arranged so that the tubing can run up the bottles into the top bottle and through the bottle into the other bottles. Plants are placed inside of cutout areas in the bottles and allowed to grow with perfect light from the windows. This utilizes space to a maximum degree in smaller apartments that may have a lot of window design used. This also allows individuals living in apartment type complexes and townhouses in cities to have fresh greens and herbs throughout the year.

Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponic gardening is a form of container gardening the utilizes no soil, water, nutrients and oxygenated elements. Generally a hydroponic garden is made of a container, net pots, water, nutrients and some form of air stone or aquarium type air pump. All of these items are put together to create a hydroponic gardening system that allows plants to flourish throughout the year in any environment. With simple grow lamps and a closed in space such as a small closet, individuals can grow fresh vegetables, fruits and kitchen herbs to enjoy throughout the year.

Aquaponic Gardening

Aquaponic gardening is similar to hydroponic gardening. The same type of setup is used, same type of nutrients and the same type of gardening methods. The only difference is that some individuals may say that aquaponic is a complete submersion of the plant while hydroponic is not. Other individuals however, may say that aquaponic gardening utilizes live session and aquarium instead of a plastic or other hydroponic based container. Most individuals who use aquaponic gardening tend to use a standard fish aquarium with the plants on the top level of the aquarium and fish inside. The plants are kept alive with fertilizer the fish while the fish can feed off of the plants and other nutrients. This is considered to be one of the most natural ways to grow certain types of vegetables and herbs. It is also considered to be one of the most eco-friendly ways and green ways to produce an indoor organic garden.

Container and Closet Gardening

Container and closet gardening can be done separately or together to produce an indoor organic garden. Containers such as 5 gallon buckets and Rubbermaid containers designed for blankets or for gift wrapping paper during the holiday season can be utilized as gardening containers. A small set up can be done to provide water to the plants without overwatering them and produce adequate if not amazing results during a year. Closet gardening is something that some indoor organic gardeners tend to use for hydroponics and for container gardening. If you have a small closet in your home but is not being utilized or is a catchall you can clean out the closet hanging a grow lamp or grow light and placed the hydroponic or container unit inside of the closet. This allows for ongoing growth from the grow light, and for a sustainable area and utilize space. For individuals who are concerned with utilizing the most space possible in their home and for not having dead space or unused space amount container and closet gardening combined together can become a very useful and space utilizing tool.

What to Know about Hydroponic Gardening

Hydroponic gardening is a rapidly growing organic gardening method. Hydroponic gardening can be done indoors, in a small closet and can utilize and maximum outer space with a maximum amount of product. A hydroponic garden is fairly easy to set up and can cost anywhere from $100-$500 depending on the type of garden you want to set up and how much materials you are purchasing. A hydroponic garden has several benefits and things that need to be said prior to starting the garden.

Hydroponic Gardening Kits

A hydroponic gardening kits can seem like a good bargain however for new organic gardeners using a hydroponic method this may not be the best choice. The reason for this is that the hydroponic gardening kits may not be as instructive as they should be. Many of these kits are created by individuals with experience in hydroponic gardening and some are created by people with no expensive hydroponic gardening except for creating these kits. Though hydroponic gardening kits can be increased affordable, costing less than $50 with shipping, it is always best to make sure that's you know how to use the kits being purchased. If you questions regarding the kit there are several videos online and several stores that will be happy to assist you. Instruction manuals are also available and should be purchased prior to purchasing a hydroponic gardening kit.

Nutrients

Hydroponic gardening and hydroponic organic gardening require no soil however it does require nutrients. These nutrients must be mixed in a proper amount with the type of nutrients changing for each stage of development of the plants. The nutrient level is based on the pH level of the water and on several other factors. In fact, one of the most widely recommended methods of nutrient usage is to have three separate hydroponic containers. The first container being the new seedling container, the second container being the mid-growth container and the third container being the full gross container. Since each of these uses different nutrients you can keep the nutrients separate while still offering the most nutrients and best quality nutrients to the plants.

Nutrients can be purchased online or hydroponics stores. If you are new to hydroponic organic gardening you should check with a hydroponics store or hydroponics professional to ensure the your mixing the right amount of nutrients for the plants and you are growing. For example, some vegetables may have a different hydroponic mixture than some kitchen herbs. It is always best to check with a professional prior to purchasing the nutrients. Nutrients cost between $20 and $40 depending on the type of nutrients and nutrients can last up to 3 to 4 months.

Growth Area

The area that you choose to grow a hydroponic garden is strictly up to you. If the hydroponic gardener has a grow lights in place, then the hydroponic garden can grow wherever you see fit. However, it should be noted that one of the best places to grow a hydroponic garden is in a small closet area where the lights from grow lights can be directly sourced to the plants on a full-time basis. This also makes it easier to maintain the plants and allows for maximum height growth of the plants. If you are growing cucumbers, tomatoes or other vining vegetable this is possibly one of the best solutions for a growth location. For other plants such as strawberries, leafy greens and various other types of plants the closet is a good benefit because it will allow the grow light to focus directly on the plants and will allow for the least amount of contamination to happen to the planet area.

Considerations of Organic Gardening

There are a few additional considerations of organic gardening that should be taken into account prior to starting organic garden. Organic gardening is not the cheapest form of gardening but it is the most earth friendly and healthy. Here are a few considerations to take into account before starting the garden.

Space Allotment

The first thing to consider when creating an organic garden is the amount of space you have to use for that garden. If you are located in a town house, apartment or small building that does not have a yard or patio the best option may be a corner of a room, a small closet or window area. If you choose to use a container gardening method you will need enough room for not only the container but also for a container for drainage. In other words, if you're using a 5 gallon bucket container system you will need to have drainage holes in that bucket and a drainage pan under the bucket. You will need room for both the bucket in the pan. This is true no matter how many pans and buckets you have. If you're using a hydroponic system that will not be placed in the closet you will need to make sure that you have enough room for the hydroponic container and enough room to grow the food. For plants that are Vining plants you will need to make sure that you have enough room for a small trellis to go against the wall for those plants to crawl up.

Harvesting

When it comes time to harvesting the organic garden, the best method is to have a place to store the food. If you are not a food right away is best to have a dehydrator or some kind of canning and preserving system. Many fruits and vegetables that can be grown in a hydroponic environment, and/or organic garden or window garden environment can be dehydrated and rehydrated at a later time, vacuum sealed or can be frozen or preserved. There are a number of methods that an individual can use to harvest and properly utilize the organic garden they have grown.

Composting an Indoor Garden

A method that many individuals have utilized in composting an organic garden is to use a kitchen composting Kroc combined with a dump method. This dump method uses things like coffee grounds and tea bags to simply dump the item onto the plants are directly into the soil. Other items such as kitchen scraps can be put into the kitchen crock and then spread out throughout the soil on a weekly or every two week basis.

Cost Factors

As it has been stated before, organic gardening is not an inexpensive form of gardening. This is due to the fact that many of the gardening methods may require an initial upfront costs in order to maintain. For example, a composting bin rather than simply buying composted fertilizer. Another example would be hydroponic materials, aquaponic materials or container gardening materials. This is true regardless of if you're using a hydroponic or container gardening method indoors or on a patio basis. The upkeep and landscaping for outdoor organic gardens can also be quite expensive. Individuals were considering creating an organic garden may reap the benefits however you must understand that these benefits come with a slight price. An average organic garden set up will cost roughly $500 and can increase up to $3000 depending on the size of the garden, location of the garden and the types of plants being used in the garden.

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