How to Start an Organic Garden

How to Start an Organic Garden


Get going with organic gardening right from the first shovelful you dig. Amend your soil, mulch your beds, and learn to exclude and deter pests organically to get your garden started right.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You'll Need


Step One

Pick a spot for your garden that gets at least half a day of sunshine and has easy access to water. Be sure it drains well, or else plan to build a raised bed garden.

Step Two

Clear the area of all weeds - mow, pull and dig them out. Till the area and rake out the debris. Then wait until it sprouts and clear again to prevent weed problems later.

Step Three

Test your soil and build it with organic matters. Then add compost, bone meal or rock phosphate, and greensand to supply nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Add lime or sulphur to adjust the soil's pH only if directed by soil-test results.

Step Four

Till or dig in fertilizers and two kinds of organic matter. Add an inch of sharp sand if your soil is clay, then rake your soil into beds or rows. Let your organic garden mellow its nutrients for at least a month before planting.

Step Five

Choose an organic mulch to blanket your garden. Pick a material like ground bark that will decompose over a season or two, and dig it in as it breaks down.

Step Six

Start a compost pile and recycle leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, eggshells and kitchen waste into excellent organic fertilizer. Pile up leaves alone in the back of the bed to make leaf mold - use it for mulch once it's broken down to a dark brown material.

Step Seven

Plant your organic garden for success - rely on plants with good local track records. Look for disease resistance bred into vegetables especially.

Step Eight

Practice smart gardening - walk the garden every day with hoe in hand to scratch out weeds as they sprout. Look for insects and diseases, and control them at the earliest stages for best effect.

Tips & Warnings

  • Interpret soil-test results with this formula: to apply a recommendation of 3 pounds of an element (say phosphorus) over 1000 square feet, divide the number of pounds you need (3) by the percent of that nutrient in the fertilizer. (The percentage will be on the label; for example, bone meal is 20 percent phosphorus.) Three divided by 20 percent equals 15 pounds per 1000 square feet.

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