Are you planning to set up an organic garden at your home? Here you go some of my recommendations and checklists to help you with the beautiful organic experience. I would call it as “THE NINE GOLDEN STEPS” to kick start the habit of organic gardening.
- Choose your plant/s and an area for your garden.
- Identify the seasonal plants and know the sunlight requirement for each plant.
- Set up proper shading for the plants as required.
- Plan for the water supply and drainage arrangements.
- Get the plant seeds from a reputed dealer.
- Use the correct proportion of soil and suitable containers.
- Prepare the required organic fertilizers at home.
- Protect the plants from weeds and pests.
- Finally, each day put aside some precious time for pampering your plants.
Step 1: How to choose your plant/s and an area for your garden?
First and foremost step in setting up an organic garden is deciding your first crop and a place for your garden.
Before choosing a plant, I would suggest you to do some homework on the below factors:
- Know the nutritious value of the crop you choose.
- Find out the sources, where you get the transplants/seeds.
- Learn how to propagate the plant / how to germinate the seeds.
- Know the time for each plant to reach its mature stage from planting stage.
- Know the sunlight requirement for that typical plant.
My first choice of crop was tomatoes and I choose to grow them at my small balcony. Note that all the crops cannot be grown in balcony or terrace. It is good to choose your crop based on your available area.
Step 2: Identify the seasonal plants and know the sunlight requirement for each plant.
The sunlight requirement of each plant varies. Some plants require semi shade, some require 3-4 hours of sunlight daily, some require more and some require less. Here are some examples I came across from my small gardening exposure:
- Brinjal requires full sun to give maximum yield. They are at risk in cold temperatures. Those grown in partial shade will take longer to ripen.
- Potatoes and Green chillies require full sunlight to grow.
- Tomatoes give the best produce when they are planted in the sunniest, hottest part of the garden.
- Pumpkins are best grown in sunny areas, where they get at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.
- Ginger is best grown after the summer rain.
- Lettuces are perfect for indoor growing. They don’t need direct sunlight.
- Cilantro/Coriander is a very delicate herb that wilts in direct sunlight heat, but needs light.
- Baby carrots and Radishes require only partial sunlight.
Also know the vital fact that some plants can be best grown in a particular season even after all the prerequisites are taken care of. I strongly recommend you to research on various seasonal plants well in advance.
Step 3: Set up proper shading for the plants as required.
It is very important to give proper shading for your plants depending on their sunlight requirement to get a better yield. Use any of the below options to control the sunlight on plants:
I mostly use Shade Clothes and Sun Shade Screens, as they are very cheap and easily available. You can analyse the right shading based on plants, its sunlight requirement and garden area.
Step 4: Plan the water supply and drainage arrangements.
Water supply is an inevitable part in the organic gardening or any gardening. Use water cans or watering pipes or self watering pots depending on the type of your garden.
The use of self watering pots is an emerging concept in the gardening scenario. It is mainly intended for those who have a very little time to spare for gardening due to their busy life style, but still interested in having a beautiful garden at home. I would always prefer the watering cans or pipes and watering my plants daily.
You all know a proper drainage system is unavoidable in entire gardening process. The most commonly seen drainage solutions are:
- For a terrace garden, ideally the roof should be inclined towards the drainage pipes. Make sure the roofs should have proper slope so that water can easily drain out.
- For small spaces like balcony, you may also consider using a drainage collection dish.
- For gardens in pavements, use opening gullies or linear drains.
Step 5: Get the plant seeds from a reputed dealer.
You can get the required seeds through many online retailers and reputed nurseries. I usually order seeds from authentic online retailers. They provide an option to order a complete garden kit, which is very useful for the beginners in gardening.
Also you can try sourcing the seeds or transplants from other known organic garden owners or nearby organic farms, which is a good alternative.
Step 6: Use the correct proportion of soil and suitable containers.
Find out the correct proportion of red sand, soil and manure for your plant. The preparation of soil for each plant varies. Here are a few examples from my experience:
- Amorphophallus and Colocasia require wet and fertile soil.
- Koorka /Coleus need loosened soil by ploughing or any other method and manure by adding compost or animal dung.
- Beans require animal dung while preparing the soil before planting.
- Bitter guard is planted in well drained soil, enriched with organic matter, such as compost or dried manure.
- Beetroot is planted in well-prepared, well-drained soil and requires nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
I would advise everyone to go organic even while you choose containers for your organic garden. My choice for containers is always mud pots and grow bags. Similarly you can try any biodegradable plant containers.
Step 7: Prepare the required organic fertilizers at home.
Try making organic fertilizers from kitchen garbage itself, which is much cheaper, less time consuming and an efficient way to manage the garbage. You can try some of the below garbage items to nourish your plant:
- Banana peels and Orange peels add nutrients and nitrogen to the soil as they decompose.
- Coffee grounds fertilizer helps to prevent bugs and slugs. This will add nitrogen to the soil.
- Tea manure enriches the soil and adds required nutrients for healthy growth.
- Vegetable residues supply all the essential nutrients to the soil.
- Egg shells act like a natural fertilizer by providing plants with valuable nutrients.
Step 8: Protect the plants from weeds and pests.
Composting food waste can turn a waste product into free soil enrichment for your garden. Use easily available organic fertilizers which include molasses in compost tea, human urine, composted chicken or cow manure and cat or dog food. Read our upcoming articles for how to make homemade organic fertilizers.
You should be very watchful to prevent weeds and pests from destroying your plant. Some of my suggestions to protect your plant from weeds are:
- The weed seeds remain asleep until you disturb the soil.
- Keep mulching your plant. You can apply an organic mulch to reduce the growth of the weed. For example, black and white news paper can be used as inexpensive and environmental friendly mulch.
- To kill any weeds, you can use a carpet of useless items in garden paths.
- Without harming the other plants, you may also use vinegar, boiling water, soap and vodka to kill the weeds
Do you know some crops can naturally withstand from the harmful pests and grow well? Also crops that are healthy and well fed from the beginning have less possibility of being damaged by pests. There are other ways to protect your plants from pests too, such as:
- By mulching soil keeps its moisture and helps stop some insects and diseases from spreading.
- By keeping wide spaces between plants helps diseases are less likely to spread.
- Surround your plant with plants that are naturally capable of keeping the pest out.
- Burn diseased plants so the pest will not harm the healthy ones.
- If the pest is any insect use a natural enemy, an insect that eats the pest.
Step 9: Finally, each day put aside some precious time for pampering your plants.
Your plants are more or less like your children; it requires attention and pampering for a better growth. Spend some quality time with your plants to understand and feel its needs.
The most refreshing time I spend in a day is in my garden. More than words I would like you to feel the refreshment and joy of being a part of the nature. Watch them grow, nourish them daily and enjoy the refreshing feeling.