Sunday, July 10, 2011

Organic Gardening Tips

Vegetable gardening is a rewarding experience, because you end up with a delicious vegetable harvest at the end.

I was surprised when I got home from my treatment in Mexico to see how well my garden was doing.  I want to show that even in the smallest spaces and different climates you can be successful in having an organic garden.  I have posted some great tips to grow a healthy and rewarding garden.  ENJOY and see my pictures posted of the indoor organic garden. 

Garden Planning
A successful vegetable garden starts out with a plan. Planning your garden is one of the most important parts of vegetable gardening, and it's quite simple.
1. Decide what you want to grow.
2. Determine how much space you have.
3. Take a sheet of paper and draw a small scale model of your garden plot, and decide where the vegetables will go.
4. You can determine the proper distance between seeds and between rows on most seed packets. 

Why not complement your organic yard by growing organic vegetables and herbs? Just imagine treating your taste buds to nature's own food. What do you like? Tomatoes and potatoes, cucumbers in large numbers, peas and peppers, thyme at the right time?

If you have a small yard, you can use containers for your vegetables and herbs. Containers can be found in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. You will undoubtedly be able find just the right containers for your needs.

Companion Planting

You probably already have a place in mind for a vegetable plot. Perhaps your herbs will have their own little section of the plot, or even a plot of their own. If you are thinking about container gardening, you probably plan to plant rosemary in one container and thyme in another. This sounds great, but there is a better way. It is called companion planting.

Companion planting is another way of working with nature. Some dissimilar plants have developed a symbiotic relationship-they help each other survive. Of course plants that have a similar pH should be planted together, but many symbiotic plant relationships go much farther than pH.
The most famous symbiotic relationships are 'Carrots Love Tomatoes' and 'Roses Love Garlic,' both titles of books written by Louise Riotte. There are many other plant relationships that you can use to enhance the beauty and health of your organic yard. Symbiotic relationships are not limited to vegetables liking vegetables, but include relationships between many different plants. You can use these relationships to enhance your vegetables and herbs, as well as other plants in your yard. Your imagination is your only limit.

Types of Companion Plant relationships

There are several kinds of plant relationships that you can use. Understanding them will help you to choose the best companion choices for your yard.

Nitrogen Fixation

Although atmospheric nitrogen (N2) makes up nearly 80% of our air, plants cannot use nitrogen in the N2 form. N2 is considered an inert gas because it is very stable-it is composed of two nitrogen molecules that are held together by a triple bond. Plants need ammonia, which is nitrogen combined with hydrogen (NH3), in order to manufacture amino acids, proteins, and other essentials. However, they are unable to break the N2 bond without help.

Legumes and rye are well known for their ability to 'fix' nitrogen. Actually, they both have a symbiotic relationship with various strains of Rhizobium bacteria. Rhizobium bacteria attaches itself to the roots of host plants and absorbs both nitrogen and hydrogen (NH2) from air in the soil and uses some of the plant's energy (carbohydrates) to change it to ammonia (NH3). The plant absorbs the NH3 and converts it to NH4 (ammonium nitrate). Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer for the plant. Both the bacteria and plant benefit from the trade-off.

If you plant oxygen-fixing legumes, such as beans or peas, near nitrogen loving members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli and kale, the cabbage family and legume family will both smile.

Repelling pests and Attracting Help

Some plants emit chemicals from their roots or leaves, called allelochemicals, which repel pests. As an example, tomatoes repel caterpillars from diamondback moths, which like to use cabbage leaves for food.
Other plants attract insects that prey on pests that would otherwise damage nearby plants. As an example, beans attract insects that eat corn pests, such as leaf beetles. You can learn a lot more about how to fight specific pests organically at the Organic Pest Control web site.

Space and Other Factors

Plants that need partial shade often grow best in the shade of a larger plant or bush. As an example, spider flowers (cleome) can provide the partial shade that lettuce prefers. Sometimes a row of sturdy plants can protect weaker plants from wind damage.

Root depths vary from one plant to another. You can take advantage of this difference to grow more vegetables in a given area. As an example, by planting shallow-rooted onions in close proximity to deep-rooted carrots, you can grow more of each in your vegetable garden.

The Unexplained

When basil is planted in close proximity to tomatoes, both grow very well. This is a beneficial relationship that hasn't been explained.

Another similar relationship is between climbing beans, corn, and squash. When the three grow together, they are all happy, but know one knows exactly why.


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