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How to Grow an Organic Vegetable Garden

How to Grow an Organic Vegetable Garden

Planting and maintaining your own organic vegetable garden takes time and care. The rewards, however, are plenty: fresh veggies and herbs, whenever you need them that are grown in your own yard. Finding the best soil for your vegetable garden and protecting the plants ensures you’ve got fresh produce throughout the entire season.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Plan It Out

    Plan It Out

    Plan out your garden. Choose a spot that receives at least 6 hours of unobstructed sunlight per day; a spot south of a building or fence is ideal. If you don’t have a garden plot already established, mark the shape with string attached to corner posts, then remove your sod to expose the soil. Start small if this is your first garden; anything over about 1 m x 1 m may require more time than you are prepared to commit.

  2. Step 2 Remove Rocks and Debris From Soil

    Remove Rocks and Debris From Soil

    Remove any rocks, roots or debris from your soil and use a garden fork or spade to break up the soil to a depth of at least 15-20 cm. Add a layer at least 5 cm deep of Organic Garden Soil or compost and work it in, using the fork. Plants need strong roots in order to flourish and stay strong, and Nature’s Care® organic garden soil includes special Root-Trients™ which will help stimulate root growth and ensure that you get the very best produce in your garden.

  3. Step 3 Plant Your Seedlings

    Plant Your Seedlings

    Plant your vegetable or herb seedlings. Keep in mind how big your plants will grow, and plant taller plants on the north side of the patch. Visit our plant tag library for more information on spacing and how to take care of your plant – just enter the code on the plant tag or search by name. Inspect your garden for weeds, pests and disease at least twice each week. Pull weeds by hand, identify any pests and use an appropriate eco-friendly remedy before the problem becomes serious, and remove any diseased plant parts promptly.

  4. Step 4 Feed with Organic Fertilizer for Vegetables Every 2 Months

    Feed with Organic Fertilizer for Vegetables Every 2 Months

    Every living thing needs nutrients to grow, and your garden is no different! Feed your garden every 2 months with a slow release organic fertilizer for vegetables Nature’s Care™ Organic & Natural Vegetable, Fruit & Flower Food, which contains microbes that breakdown essential nutrients and make them easier to absorb. Alternatively, apply water-soluble fertilizer approximately once every second week.

  5. Step 5 Water As Needed

    Water As Needed

    Water slowly with very little pressure so that the water has a chance to sink into the soil rather than running off, or use a soaker hose rather than a hose nozzle or sprinkler.  Water the soil rather than spraying the leaves of the plants, ideally in the very early morning before the sun becomes intense. Depending on the temperature, wind, soil type, spacing and type of plants, watering is normally required every second day unless it rains. If in doubt, stick your finger into the soil past the first joint, and water if it feels dry.

What You Need for This Project

Additional Garden Care Tips

• Be creative with your plantings. You don't have to plant all of your vegetables in one plot. If your only sunny location is in the front yard, you could plant a border of tomatoes and peppers along the front walk and set lettuce plants in a shadier spot out back.

• Be careful of neighbouring plants. If you must put your garden near trees and shrubs, your vegetable plants will compete for water, nutrients and light. Tree roots extend beyond their drip line, the outer edge of their leafy canopy. If you can, keep your garden away from the root zone of surrounding plantings. If that isn't possible, treat everything with extra water and fertilizer.

• Test for good drainage. Plant roots need air as well as water. Waterlogged soil is low in air, which is why it's important to consider drainage when choosing a vegetable garden site. Heavy clay soils are usually not as well drained as sandy ones. Puddles of water on the soil surface after a rain indicate poor drainage.

• One way to check your garden soil's drainage is to dig a hole about 10 inches deep and fill it with water. Let the water drain, then fill the hole again the following day and clock how long it takes for the water to drain. If water remains in the hole for more than three to four hours after the second filling, poor drainage will likely be a problem.

• The fastest way to improve soil drainage is to build raised garden beds and fill them with amended soil. If your soil is really soggy, due perhaps to a high water table, drains buried in the ground may be the only solution. Soil can also be too well drained. Very sandy soil dries out quickly and needs frequent watering during dry spells. Adding organic matter such as mulch to sandy soil will gradually increase the amount of water it can hold.

• A gentle slope to the south is ideal, especially in colder climates. Soil warms up faster in spring, and the chance of frost affecting plants is lower. Cold air is like water: it runs downhill and settles in low spots. Frosty air will move past plants on a slope. However, too steep of a slope can cause erosion problems. On any sloping site, put rows across rather than down the slope to catch runoff. On very steep slopes, you may need to build terraces to hold soil in place.

• Winds can wreak havoc on tall crops such as corn and pole beans and can dry them out rapidly. If wind is a problem in your area, protect the garden with a windbreak - either several rows of plants or a fence. You will get maximum wind protection for your crops if you put them downwind at a distance three to five times the windbreak's height.

• Consider how much of each crop you would like to harvest. If the soil is in good condition, you can keep up with a 400-square-foot garden by devoting about 30 minutes each day at the beginning of the season and 30 minutes every two or three days throughout the summer to keep your garden producing and looking good Try to plan your garden so it's close to a water source and the house. If you intend to bring in more than two yards of soil amendments or additions such as manure, put your garden in a spot that can be easily reached by a vehicle.

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