GETTING YOUR GARDEN STARTED AND SOME ITEMS YOU MAY NEED…
Healthy, Balanced Soil
Good soil is so incredibly important for a healthy garden. If your soil isn’t healthy, your plants won’t be healthy. It may sound fancy or a lot of work, but if you’d like to start your own organic veggie garden I would give your soil a quick ph and composition test. You can find ph strips at most home/garden stores (a ph of 6.2-7.2 is typically ideal), and you can click here for some tips on finding out what your soil’s composition is. If you’re curious, most people I’ve spoken to prefer a Sandy-Loam composition for their garden.
If your soil doesn’t have an ‘ideal’ composition or ph for what you’d like to grow, you’ll want to amend it. Amending soil basically means, adding something to it to make it stronger. For more information, including a guide to organic soil amendments, please click here.
I live in an area with a lot of clay, which isn’t amazing for veggie gardening. Clay soil is often dense, and lacks space between it’s particles so it easily gets waterlogged and plant roots have a tougher time breaking through it. Adding compost to clay adds a lot of oxygen and nutrients, which is amazing for plants and creates a rich base to grow veggies. Even if you don’t have a clay-based soil your garden can never hurt from some compost. If you’re interested in gardening, I’d suggest you read up on compost and get your hands on some.
Local sources of black gold AKA compost:
- Coffee Grounds- we got ours for free from Starbucks!
- Coffee grounds are nearly ph neutral so they won’t make the soil too acidic or basic and can be a source of nitrogen for plants. WARNING: conventional coffee plants can be doused with pesticides before they get to your local cafe, so it’s good to be mindful of your source if you want to avoid any residual chemicals in your soil.
- Yourself :). Try your own compost pile outside or vermicomposting indoors. You get to control everything that goes inside the compost pile this way and it’s free!
- I’ve seen a vermicomposting container in action and I was really impressed. It didn’t smell at all and was easy to put together. I want to give it a shot this year!
Seeds, Seeds Seeds!
I prefer certified organic, heirloom seeds that are non-GMO. Organic meaning the parent plant has been grown according to organic standards. Heirloom meaning that the seed is not a hybrid, so I’m guaranteed to be able to save the seeds each year if I’d like. Heirloom also indicates the seed was openly pollinated by natural pollinators and has been passed down for several generations.
Non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) means that the seed hasn’t had it’s DNA artificially altered. For example, some tomato seeds have had different DNA spliced into its chain so they can have a longer shelf life. I have no interest in growing those seeds in my garden. I won’t get into it in this post, but there have been several scientific articles written about how GMO seeds are detrimental to human health, a food’s nutrition, the farming industry, soil as well as our seed bank. Also, GMO plants often produce seed that is sterile so you can’t save them for next year. So many reasons to be uninterested…
Local Organic and Heirloom Seed Sources:
- Seedy Saturdays– exchange or purchase seeds and listen to speakers discuss gardening, great for people looking to learn more about gardening too
- Hawthorn Farm– certified organic seeds
- U harvest– certified organic seeds
- Cottage Gardener– heirloom seeds with organic options
- Dam Seeds
ORGANIC GARDENING STARTER SUPPLIES
- Seed or seedlings (see Seeds, Seeds, Seeds! above for more info)
- If you’re starting from seed, you will also need containers and soil to start them in
- Materials to amend your soil, if necessary (see Healthy, Balanced Soil section above for more info)
- A good spade or shovel, I also like having a garden fork to turn the soil
- Access to water, hose or bucket for watering
- Bamboo sticks or twigs to stake plants, specifically if you’re growing peas, beans, or tomatoes
- Twine to gently tie plants to stakes
- Sharp gardening shears – These are good for trimming back plants, or cutting larger produce. In my experience, if something is ripe, you should be able to easily tug or pick them off without the aid of something sharp, but there are times where it’s helpful, like with cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli etc.
Alright, that’s it for this post in our Organic Gardening Series, next time I’d like to share how we’re going to incorporate companion planting into our garden plan, and garden plans in general. So please stay posted and feel free to leave any helpful tips in the comments below.
What tools/items do you find useful when gardening? Have you ever tried vermicomposting? We’d love to know and hear from you :)!