If you are thinking about starting an organic garden this year, you may be wondering what you need to get started with organic growing. The good news is that you do not need to spend a fortune. And it will not even take a huge amount of time and effort. Here are the key things to think about so you will be ready to get sowing in spring:
As with most endeavours, the more you know before you get started the better equipped you will be. Gaining knowledge is an endless task – one that should occupy you throughout your life. We don’t stop learning when we leave school. If you plan to get started with organic growing, it is a great idea to read as much as possible about it before you begin. Watch videos, or listen to information. Speak to other gardeners in your area and explore the ideas they bring up.
Knowledge about plants, plant growth and gardening in general is a vital tool in your arsenal. And of course you will continue to build knowledge over time as you tend your new garden.
There are certain things that cannot easily be gained by reading. Skills are not learned in this way but are generally best learned in the doing. When you want to get started with organic growing, gardening is one of the skills you will begin to build.
But there are other skills that will be very useful to you as an organic gardener. For example, as well as learning to identify plants, it could also be helpful to hone your skills in wildlife identification. Cooking and preserving are other skills it can be very useful for a home grower to have. And you may also want to work on other skills, such as making your own natural cleaning and beauty products, for example. These skills can help you maximise your yield and make the most of what you have.
In order to grow a successful garden, there are of course a range of natural resources you need. Plants need sunlight, of course. And understanding how to make the most of and utilise sunlight fully in your garden is key.
When growing in the ground, soil is another key natural resource. You need to take care of and improve the soil over time in order to gain the best yields possible from your organic growing system. Make the most of the soil or growing medium available to you, and learn how to build up a fertile growing area over time, and maintain that fertility over time.
When you get started with organic growing, you also need to recognise the natural resources represented by the plant life already present in your garden and the surrounding area. And you also need to welcome wildlife and recognise the benefits different creatures can bring.
Natural resources won’t only help you grow your crops and other plants. They can also help you set up your organic garden. For example, you might use natural resources to build paths, or bed edging.
A Water System
Many gardeners forget the importance of water when designing and planning their gardens. But a sustainable garden needs to have a sustainable water system. And water is, of course, another key natural resource essential for plant growth. Think about where the water for your garden will come from, and how it will be directed to where it is needed.
Organic growing systems should always be designed and implemented with water in mind. If you do not already have a rainwater harvesting system in place, it could be a very good idea to set one up right away.
While it may not be essential for smaller garden schemes, it could also be helpful to set up an irrigation system of some kind – such as drip irrigation, for example. Think about how you can use water wisely and well, wherever you live.
A Composting System
Natural plant-based resources should also be plumbed back into the garden system. In an organic garden, home composting is a crucial element in maintaining fertility and improving your garden over time.
If you do not already have some kind of composting system in place, then this is another key job to get onto right away. Before you get started with organic growing, I would always recommend that you get such a system in place.
Whether you are growing in the ground, in raised beds or in containers, you will need some kind of receptacles for sowing seeds and rearing plants. New gardeners often head out or head online and buy an array of plant pots, seed starting trays etc…
But before you head out to buy anything new, it is a good idea to look at other resources that are already available where you live. Look at items and rubbish that might otherwise be thrown away and you will often find that they will come in handy for home growing.
Reclaimed materials can be really useful for those who want to get started with organic growing. They will not only save you money. They can be a more eco-friendly and sustainable choice too. Elsewhere on this site you will find a number of articles that deal with growing your own using items that would usually be considered waste. In addition to using them for seed starting and plant pots and containers, you can also use reclaimed materials in other ways – for paths or bed edging, for example.
Basic Gardening Tools
Finally, before you get started with organic growing, you will need some basic gardening tools. You do not need much to get started. And what you do need can often be sourced second hand. But it is important to make sure that you do have the right tools for the job.
I would recommend that, at a minimum, you have a spade or trowel, a garden fork, a simple hoe or similar, a sharp knife or some secateurs, and a good pair of gardening gloves. But the exact list will depend on the size of your garden. And on the techniques you choose, and what exactly you plan to grow.
Once you have these basics in place, you will be able to get started with organic growing. You will notice that seeds are not on this list. Of course, it is likely that you will purchase some seeds to get started. But you do not necessarily need to do so. You might begin by regrowing some vegetables from scraps before you progress further.
However you decide to proceed, planning and preparation are key. Make sure you have the above basics in place before you begin. If you do, you are far more likely to meet with success and achieve great results in your garden.
If you would like to share your own tips or suggestions for new gardeners, please feel free to do so in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.