Organic gardening is a very rewarding experience, but it can be a little daunting at first. By not using chemical products or methods, you have to know how to get the most out of everything you do. Fortunately, nature always has a way of providing for itself.
To this end, here are 5 easy and cost-effective methods to transform your organic garden into a bountiful and thriving success:
- Planting Space and Shape
- Regular Harvests
- Companion Planting
- The Right Water Levels
- Use Up Vital Sun Space
Planting Space and Shape
The most standard formation for any garden is to plant in straight rows, right? While this looks nice and orderly, you can often better capitalize on this space by planting in triangles. This formation allows you to use the space that square patterns would otherwise take up. Typically, you can plant 10 to 15% more crops, which is ideal for small gardens with limited space.
Of course, the success of this depends on the plants. Some species don’t appreciate being overcrowded and can also lead to disease and infestation. Yet, if you have plant species that can be packed in more closely (such as carrots) then this is a great way to get more from any space you have.
Similarly, do yourself a favor and make your garden as accessible to yourself as possible. A great way to do this is by creating well-defined raised beds, perhaps even raised to hip height. See our article on the best raised garden beds for mor info on this. This is important, because you should be picking fruits and vegetables when they’re ready. This means you shouldn’t just have one harvest, but rather regular inspections for veggies that are just right for the picking.
Additionally, this is also a good opportunity to get in for a close inspection and get rid of any weeds. Since organic gardens don’t have the chemical induced weed killers, it helps to oversee things personally and ensure your food is healthy. While compost, mulch and natural pesticides (such as ladybugs and other helpful insects) will do their part, regular inspections will ensure nothing ever takes root and grows too big.
For those that don’t know, companion planting is the act of planting different species that work well together. While this might seem specific, there are actually a large number of combinations to benefit your garden. Garlic and chives deter aphids, for instance, while corn can provide poles for various bean plants to grow up.
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Similarly, this is also a great way to reduce the chances of disease – if you plant monoculture beds, any infection will spread quickly. In these configurations, your plants start to take care of themselves, making your job all the more easier. Combine this with triangle planting and you can really maximise your garden’s efficiency.
The Right Water Levels
While all plants enjoy a good watering, you can have too much water. As a result, it’s your job as a gardener to ensure the right levels of water are available. Too much will wash away nutrients and drown plants. Likewise, too little will ensure plants aren’t getting the support they need. For most gardens, a hose will often suffice but a water pump or sprinkling system is a good way to improve coverage.
Similarly, water-logging can cause plenty of problems for grass and crops trying to grow. This is often due to over-watering or hard clay or soil underground. In these instances, a drainage pump or system can help these areas thrive by removing the excess fluids. How much water any plant needs will depend on the species itself, but generally speaking you should be able to see water go into the soil, rather than sit at the very top for long periods of time.
Use Up Vital Sun Space
On average, a typical vegetable plant needs at least five hours of sunlight a day. While more is preferable, there’s a good chance some of these areas are being overlooked in your garden. This includes areas near walls, sheds or other larger plants. Even windows can provide enough sunlight. Analyse your garden and watch which areas get enough sunlight – this will identify new areas to plant produce.
That said, there are also plants that thrive on as little as three hours of sunlight. These are typically smaller species, such as various salad leaves, mint and kale. Yet, these all have their uses and their ability to grow whether other plants will not allow you to truly make the most of your options.
Plant these in windows with more shade or the less open areas of your garden, leaving the more exposed plots for the plants that need the extra sunlight. Our gift guide contains a recommended meter for gauging sunlight, pH levels and moisture levels.
As you can see, these 5 easy tips don’t necessarily require you to invest large amounts of money. By planting in the right areas, understanding the needs of your plants more and adapting your garden accordingly, even the smallest of plots can become an abundant haven in no time!
For a lot more great gardening tips, see our guide on 31 Ways to Make You an Organic Gardening Guru.