Gardening Tips: Introduction To Organic Gardens

How to start and maintain a healthy and beautiful garden without the use of chemical pesticides. Information on kits, equipment, plant care.

Increasing concern for the environment and one's health has created the demand for chemical-free alternatives in every area of life, including gardening. If you're considering an organic home garden, here are two points to keep in mind to avoid the need for pesticides:

How resistant to disease are your plants? One of the best ways to avoid pests is to go native, so to speak. Consult with a nursery and plant what is grown in your region. For instance, if you live in North Dakota, choose plants that are adapted to that state's growing conditions. You may want to contact your local extension office for information on the plants you're interested in growing and what diseases they're resistant to and which ones they're prone to. Then, get one step ahead by investigating chemical-free ways of fighting the diseases the plants of your choice are most likely to fall prey to before you even put them in the ground.

Is your garden immune to disease? Be careful of what you bring into your garden. Check seed packets for disease-free certification and be mindful of any transplants as they may carry disease that can easily and rapidly spread to your other plants. Avoid plants with brown discoloration and clean your gardening tools with a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water so they won't transport disease from one plant to another.



If, in spite of your preventive efforts, your garden plants become infected, here's what you can do:

Disease-causing agents need organic matter in order to thrive. Eliminate debris such as fallen branches and dead leaves from your yard. Weeds also often harbor pathogens. By weeding your garden, you may be able to eradicate disease. If you're using your garden to plant small crops, rotate them every three to five years to prevent fungi and bacteria build-up.

Sometimes, it is also the case that your soil is infected and needs to be sterilized. If you're dealing with a small quantity of soil, you may sterilize it by placing your soil in an oven-proof dish and covering it tightly with aluminum foil. Place the dish in an oven set between 180F and 200F and let the soil bake for half an hour. Allow it to cool. Remove the aluminum foil only when you're about to use the soil.

For large amounts of soil, use the summer sun's heat for sterilization. First loosen the soil and make sure it's moist. If it hasn't rained in a while, water the soil and cover with a piece of plastic, tucking at the edges. Add more soil around the plastic to keep it from coming loose and letting the moisture and heat out. Leave the soil undisturbed under the sun for several weeks before preparing it for planting.

Tending to your garden regularly is probably your best bet against pests and disease, and the need for chemicals. Pull your weeds, space your plants properly, remove any debris immediately as they appear and avoid excessive moisture in the soil. Your work will be rewarded with a beautiful and healthy garden.

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