It’s time to get your gardens assembled! Spring is fading into summer, and with the weather getting warmer and the days getting sunnier, it’s time to get your hands dirty. If you’re new to gardening and want an easy guide on getting started, check out our list of 10 things you need to create an organic garden!
The most important part of building a garden is finding the right space. If your plants aren’t suited to your growing space, they may struggle. A vegetable garden, for example, needs rich soil and between 7-8 hours of sunlight per day. Some flowering and vining plants prefer shady growing conditions. Plants such as lavender thrive in poor soil and are happiest in hot and sandy conditions. Even just planning for pots and containers is important when you’re looking to optimize your growing space.
When making your garden plan, do some research on the plants you’re interested in growing and what conditions they thrive in. Then, select your plants and space accordingly!
We’re sure you know how passionate we are about good soil. Growing in the right mix can be a determining factor for the success of your flower or produce garden, and is as important as where you’re growing, if not more important! Healthy soil acts as your base for growth. Most of the nutrients your plants need come from the soil, so you want to provide everything your garden needs!
Raised Bed Mix is the perfect choice for a buildable soil mix with superior moisture retention. Container herbs and veggies love our All-Purpose Veggie Mix and IndiCanja for all the nutrients they need to grow amazing produce. Flowerpots and ornamental plants thrive in our Activated Potting Mix, perfect for all your blooms and decorative containers.
3. Seeds and Plants
Let’s get to the fun part. Selecting your plant varieties is the most exciting part of the season (other than harvesting of course) and allows you to introduce a spectacular array to your growing space. Depending on your needs as a gardener, you can even choose hearty varieties that require little maintenance.
To start, think about your growing zone and the length of your season. Tomatoes planted in many growing zones can’t be started from seed outdoors because they need a lot of light and heat. Garlic needs to go through a cold cycle to develop happy bulbs in the spring, which is why many gardeners plant their bulbs in the late fall and harvest in mid-June.
Once you know your zone requirements, you can start to dive into the varieties that would work best for you. If you’re a hands-off gardener, plants like radishes, zucchini, peas, and beans, are easy to grow and don’t require a lot of attention. Slow-bolting lettuce varieties, or bolt-resistant greens, are perfect for gardeners who can’t seem to get to their lettuce before it goes to seed. Herbs like chamomile and mint are easy to grow, need almost no maintenance, and can even take over your garden beds if allowed to grow without a watchful eye. For gardeners that want a challenge, plants like cauliflower, melons, and artichokes are not for the faint of heart and can be tricky to cultivate.
Mix up your produce garden by trying something new like Amaranth, Indigo Rose Tomatoes, and even the Instagram-famous Cucamelon! Interested in adding something new to your flower lineup? Check out Northern Pitcher Plants, Batik Bearded Irises, and Tricolor Daisies, for a splash of color that’s sure to draw the eye.
4. A Garden Map
Once you know the varieties you want to grow, build out a garden map so you can set yourself up for success! A garden map is a great tool that can help you anticipate your soil’s nutrient needs, visualize available garden space, and predict how much you can grow.
First, you’ll need to measure your garden beds and determine the size of the area you have. Next, make a list of the plants that you are planning on including in your garden this year. Make a rough estimate of the space that you’ll need for each of your plants.
Heavy feeders like tomatoes, peppers, and vining plants (cucumbers, zucchini, melons, squash, etc.), take up a lot of nutrients and space in the soil. Allocate about 2 square feet for your tomatoes, 1.5 square feet for peppers, and space vines anywhere from 12-30 inches apart depending on whether you use a trellis or let your plants spread along the ground.
After you know how much space your plants will need, plan your layout! You can also use a free online planning tool if you want to easily move plants around and get a custom layout.
After your plants are selected, planted, and flourishing in your garden, you want to make sure that they stay that way. Some plants need very little additional nutrition and will just need a little mid-season support to grow rich nutrients. Developing a feeding schedule will help you stay on track with supplying necessary nutrients. This can be as simple as up to once per week while watering. We suggest our organic BioActive Supercharger as a great fertilizer to add to your routine, paired with Purple Cow CX-1. You can also incorporate a slow-release granular fertilizer to deliver lasting nutrients throughout the season. Our All-Purpose Fertilizer can be applied at planting and at blossom for balanced nutrition when you need it. If you're just getting your beds started and want to refresh your soil from the long winter, try our Activated Compost for a dose of organic matter, nutrients, and biology that can set you up for the season.
6. A Watering Schedule
One of the best things you can do to help your garden stay on track is to develop a watering schedule. Especially in the hottest part of the summer, it’s important to set a time to check your plants and give them the water they need. It’s often suggested to water early in the day and check back in the early evening. You want to avoid watering before the sun goes down as this could lead to a higher chance of mildew and mold.
Sandy soils are fast draining and will need to be watered more often. Heavy clay soils will hold water and may need to be watered far less, maybe even only once per week. If you have covered your garden bed in mulch, you’ve added some extra water retention and can also cut back a bit. No matter what your watering schedule may be, check your plants every day. As the weather shifts throughout the season, you’ll want to be sure you’re giving the best support you can. You don’t want to wait until your plants are drooping to water, that’s a sign of stress and they are less likely to bounce back.
7. Pest Deterrent
Some gardeners may balk at the suggestion to use pest deterrents. A keystone of organic gardening involves not utilizing chemical pesticides to manage the hungry critters out to steal from your garden. Many home gardeners are not strict about limiting themselves to 100% organic produce and have a synthetic pesticide that works well for their needs. Other gardeners prefer to source natural and organic pest control methods.
There are several easy ways that gardeners can attract good garden companions, repel pests, or redirect pests, by using companion plants or natural remedies! Check out this amazing guide for the 13 Best Natural Garden Pest Controls.
Mulch is great for helping your soil with water retention, as well as reducing weeding throughout the season. Choosing a natural mulch hides the soil from direct sunlight and heat, which avoids much of the evaporation during the hottest parts of the day. Additionally, mulch acts as a natural compost later in the season. By using a natural mulch, you can leave it over your garden all year as it will decompose into the soil and add wonderful benefits to your soil, and your soil’s biology.
Another fun gardening purchase is the tools. The most important thing you’ll need is a watering can or hose. You’ll also need a good trowel to plant your seedlings, some gardening gloves to protect your hands, and a big bucket to help you collect any garden scraps and weeds. Hori-hori’s have become increasingly popular in gardening spaces. This combination knife/trowel, is perfect for weeding, planting, and harvesting.
If you’re looking for a few more helpful gadgets, a weeding tool is very handy for getting to the root of the problem. If you’re converting larger spaces into a garden bed, you might want to rent a tiller to help remove the sod.
10. Tricks of the Trade
Though supplies are important, the most important tool in your arsenal is knowledge! Reach out to a gardener friend. Find a few blogs, magazines, or Facebook Groups to follow with seasoned organic gardeners. Finding a community will not only remind you to keep up the maintenance of your garden but can provide useful insights into any of the various challenges that may come during the season. Not only that, but you’ll have a platform to share all those exciting photos of your progress.