Step-by-Step Organic Vegetable Gardening


Organic gardening is the process of using all-natural methods to grow and harvest vegetables. Creating an organic vegetable garden utilizes the latest trends in environmental control, green living, recycling and self-sufficiency. Setting up an organic vegetable garden reduces your environmental impact while cutting costs in relation to food and waste management.

Step 1

Set up a composting bin. Use a 50-gallon drum with holes punched into the sides at various spots for aeration. Make sure the drum has a top with a hole and plug that can be secured tightly to the drum. Add organic waste such as vegetable waste, grass and garden cuttings, dried leaves, undyed shredded paper, sawdust and manure from herbivores (grain eating animals) daily. Turn the mixture by tipping the drum on its side and rolling it two full rotations, then resetting it upright daily. After two or three weeks you will have organic fertilizer to spread over the garden.

Step 2

Find a good location. Use a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Make sure the area gets good drainage and doesn't have standing pools of water or remain wet. Plan the size of the vegetable garden so that you can easily maintain it and provide for the goals you have set for the garden.

Step 3

Plan the layout. Mix up the plants and the design of the vegetable garden to make the most of the ground. Plan root vegetables around bush vegetables to complement each other and conserve wasted space. Plan on planting late season vegetables in the same area used for early season vegetables; this allows various nutrients to be taken and returned to the soil through the growing season. Plan flowers and herbs in the garden; this will attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees. Plan a ring of marigolds and garlic, thyme or basil around the outside of the vegetable garden; these keep insects, beetles, deer and rabbits out of the garden.

Step 4

Prepare the soil. Pull or dig out the weeds; avoid using chemicals or sprays to kill weeds. Add yard debris, leaves and grass clippings to the top of the soil where your garden will be. When you turn the soil these will be added into the soil as organic additives to enrich the microbiotic life of the soil. Microbes in the soil will feed on pathogens that may attack the garden.

Step 5

Break ground. Use the spade to create the edges of the vegetable garden. Put the end of the spade straight into the soil; step on the flat top of the blade to insert the spade fully into the soil. Bend the arm of the spade back to pull the ground up with the blade. Use the claw rake to dig up the ground inside the boundary of the vegetable garden. Use the digging fork to turn the soil over. Turn the soil over to a depth of between 6 and 12 inches. Pull out any loose weeds.

Step 6

Add the fertilizer. Spread 2 inches or more of the compost over the soil with the claw rake. Use the rake to work compost into the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Break up chunks of soil with the digging fork. Work the soil until it is broken into the size of small gravel.

Step 7

Plant the seeds. Use seed from local farms or organic suppliers. Commercially started seedlings can contain residue from chemicals used to grow them; these chemicals can migrate into your soil. Research the proper varieties of plants suitable for your climate and region. Contact your local agriculture extension service for this information. Plan to harvest seeds from your own garden each year to make the following year completely organic. Look for heirloom types of vegetables, as these are guaranteed to produce identical fruit to the parent.

Step 8

Maintain the garden. Keep weeds pulled. Set up a schedule of looking for weeds daily to catch them when they are small. Make sure to take the taproots when pulling the weeds. Burn the weeds or dispose of them with the garbage; these cannot be composted because the seeds may remain in the compost and therefore transfer with the compost to the garden and grow new weeds. Water the garden in the morning to allow the water to reach the roots before evaporating. Water the roots and soil instead of overhead onto the plants to get the most water to the roots. Allow the water to reach deep into the soil.

Step 9

Control pests. Examine vegetable plants for pests on leaves, stems and fruit. Pick insects or beetles off the plant leaves and dispose of them. Use diatomaceous earth, nematodes or soap to wash plants of insects. Use a vegetable-based spray to keep pests off plants. Plant flowers and herbs within the garden to attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees to eat unwanted bugs.

Things You'll Need

  • 50-gallon drum
  • Vegetable waste
  • Grass cuttings
  • Yard debris
  • Dried leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Manure
  • Undyed paper products
  • Digging fork
  • Water
  • Spade
  • Claw rake
  • Marigolds
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Vegetable-based spray


  • Organic Health Adviser: How to Start an Organic Garden
  • The Daily Green: Organic Gardening Tips
Keywords: organic vegetable gardening, growing organic vegetables, organic farming, environmentally friendly gardens

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.