Organic gardening for beginners is a hot topic at the moment. That is because, certainly here in the UK, people are desperately trying to save money.
On this page
- What Are the Benefits of Growing Your Own?
- What is the Purpose of Organic Gardening?
- What is the Definition of Organic Gardening?
- Why Should I Plant an Organic Garden?
- Organic Gardening for Beginners – How to Start?
- Best Soil Types
- Understanding Organic Fertilisers: Which Are the Best for Beginners?
- Which Plants Should I Grow in My Backyard or Front Yard?
- Is Growing Plants Without Chemicals Difficult?
What Are the Benefits of Growing Your Own?
Costs of everything are rising so we are all looking for ways to save money. Growing your own can be cheaper than buying from a store. Plus you don’t have to rely on the supplies getting to the shops. But there is much more than that.
When you cultivate your own fruits and veggies, you can be sure that they will be fresh and full of flavour.
Gardening is the most effective way to grow your own food. It can help you grow a variety of fruits and vegetables while also serving as a hobby for people who enjoy gardening. Or who feel they should!
Organic gardening not only ensures that the food you consume is fresh, but it also ensures that your family receives adequate vitamin intake without the nasties.
There’s nothing left to do with a fruit you’ve gathered from your garden but eat it or compost it with the rest of your food leftovers. You don’t get all the nasty, and unnecessary packaging either.
What is the Purpose of Organic Gardening?
Why be interested in becoming an organic gardener? Even if they are simply playing with it, everyone should try and start their own organic garden. Let’s try to answer some fundamental questions to get you started.
What is the Definition of Organic Gardening?
Organic gardening, sometimes known as “organic farming,” is the practice of growing plants without the use of synthetic chemicals or fertilisers in order to keep them free of hazardous toxins. Sir Albert Howard coined the phrase, which he originally used during a speech at Oxford University.
The RHS describes it as:
cultivation systems which make minimal use of manufactured chemical substancesOrganic gardening / RHS Gardening
It’s becoming a more popular option for folks who desire more control over their food supply and a closer relationship with nature.
Why Should I Plant an Organic Garden?
For a variety of reasons, many individuals prefer to cultivate organically. Some people prefer the sense of accomplishment that comes with growing their own food, while others are concerned about the chemicals that may be present in ‘store-bought’ fruit. If you garden organically, you can also save money on groceries and give you healthier eating options!
Think about the cost of bagged salads here in the UK. Even if you just have a small organic vegetable garden, with some leaves and easy salad items like spring onions you will eat well and save money. And who doesn’t want that.
Organic Gardening for Beginners – How to Start?
It’s easy to get started with an organic garden. You must first decide on the type of garden you want to have.
Do you have a lot of space in your garden? For limited space, a small organic vegetable plot or fruit tree might be the best option. If not, there are a variety of different possibilities, such as growing herbs in pots and containers that can be brought inside during the winter.
If you want to create an indoor herb garden, you’ll need to select a bright location in your house. If you have the room and want an all-year garden, you can also utilise grow lights. The best course of action for most newcomers is to start modestly.
Try growing veggies and herbs in pots or even a raised bed on your patio if you have one.
If not, find a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. Remove any weeds and lay down some cardboard to smother the grass once you’ve identified a good area.
If you don’t have access to a garden, consider growing plants in containers on your porch or balcony; just ensure they get plenty of sunlight!
If this isn’t a possibility due to space constraints, don’t despair. You can start your plants indoors and then move them outside once they’ve grown large enough.
If you just have a tiny garden, start with crops that can be grown in containers on patios, such as tomato plants or peppers. With a small space, vertical gardening is the way to go.
Best Soil Types
So, which soil types are best for the aspiring organic gardener? There are a few, to be sure.
If you have the space and wish to grow vegetables or fruit trees in your backyard, loamy soil is ideal since it contains nutrients that plants require, such as nitrogen-rich organic matter from decomposing items such as leaves.
If not enough water reaches this type of soil, poor drainage issues may arise. If you want soil that drains well and has plenty of room in its structure, sandy loam is the way to go. It drains well and has enough of room in its structure, so nutrients are more easily available.
However, if you have clay soil (like I have) you can improve the soil but it can work out quite costly. This is why raised beds work well in gardens with poor soil. Bear in mind that most types of soil can grow some things, it just might not be the crops you want to grow. But it is easier to work with your soil type than fight it.
Understanding Organic Fertilisers: Which Are the Best for Beginners?
If you want a successful organic garden, one of the first things you need to consider is how to enrich your garden soil with compost. You want healthy soil and you also want to improve your soil structure and develop a healthy ecosystem.
Making your compost involves a mix of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’. Green ingredients include veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and fresh grass clippings. Browns are things like dry leaves, straw, and shredded newspaper. A decent compost pile is like a night out on the town – it needs a good balance of wet and dry, and the more variety, the better!
Whether it’s from cows, horses, chickens, or even alpacas (yes, really!), manure is high in nutrients that plants love. But remember, just like you wouldn’t appreciate an uncooked roast dinner, plants prefer their manure well-rotted. Fresh manure is a bit too “hot” and can damage plants. So, be patient, let it mellow out a bit.
Bone meal might sound like a treat for your four-legged friend, but plants love it too. It’s rich in phosphorous, which helps plants develop strong roots and lovely flowers. It’s a slow-release fertiliser, so think of it as the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ tortoise of the plant food world.
Seaweed can be your secret weapon as it’s full of trace elements and hormones that stimulate plant growth. Just remember to rinse off the salt before adding it to your garden or compost bin.
Lastly, let’s not forget our subterranean friends, the worms. Worm castings (that’s a polite term for worm droppings) are rich in nutrients and beneficial microbes. Worms do all the hard work, breaking down organic matter and turning it into a form plants can use. They’re nature’s little composters!
Now, armed with this treasure trove of fertiliser knowledge, you’re ready to take on the world of organic gardening. Just remember, it’s not just about improving your organic garden for growing your veggies, it’s about nurturing the soil too.
Which Plants Should I Grow in My Backyard or Front Yard?
Naturally, this is dependent on your location’s climate.
Citrus trees and avocados are excellent choices if you live in a hotter area. Apples can be grown well in cooler climates . You’ll also want to think about how much space you have for your plants.
But the main thing to bear in mind with your first organic garden is to grow what you like to eat. Last year I grow sweetcorn. Nothing wrong with that apart from the fact that I don’t like sweetcorn! But it wouldn’t have mattered if I did like it as the squirrel beat me to it. And he seemed to enjoy it. You’re welcome Sammy ‘mensa’ Squirrel.
Is Growing Plants Without Chemicals Difficult?
This is a question that many people consider when they are considering if becoming an organic gardener might be too much trouble. No, it is not difficult to cultivate plants without the use of chemicals. Although it takes more time and effort than using artificial fertilisers or pesticides, the benefits outweigh the additional effort.
Because you can’t merely water your garden with a pesticide like Roundup, which kills everything in its path, you’ll need a lot of patience.
You need a good soil structure especially if you are going down the route of container gardening so start with an organic potting mix or compost devoid of pesticides and other contaminants. Compost, peat moss, and vermiculite are all good options. Coffee grinds can also aid in the growth of your plants.
Next you want to choose garden plants so why not start off some organic seeds. If you want to grow your own organic vegetables, then heirloom seeds are a great buy if you can find them because these are not genetically modified seeds. When you save seeds after your plant has flowered, when you plant them next season they will stay true to type. And true to what the plant has been like for hundreds of years. Your new garden can only benefit from heirloom seeds and they will aid you on your quest for a successful organic garden.
Many gardeners don’t like growing from seed so you can certainly buy organic plants if you don’t have the time or space to start seeds indoors. You will still need a thick layer of good soil and you need to be aware of the plant spacing of different plant varieties. With some plants you will need to cover crops, otherwise the pigeons will eat more of your cabbages than you will.
The main thing to bear in mind is to keep everything manageable and work with nature. Rather than killing bugs, organic gardeners encourage beneficial insects into their world.
If you prefer to watch rather than read, check out our video on organic gardening for beginners.