Organic is more than just an adjective to describe an ideal version of gardening or produce in a grocery store. It’s the practice of improving biodiversity and your own health through eco-conscious gardening practices. However, there’s probably a lot of organic gardening practices that you’ve probably never considered, such as these ten underrated ways to make your garden more organic.
If you’re wondering how organic your garden currently is, feel free to take my free quiz. Once you have your organic gardening score, you can come back to this article and take notes on ways to be even more organic in the future!
The right seed
One of the first steps when starting your garden is to go out and purchase the seeds. While you might try to find the most affordable seedlings or go to the nearest store for convenience, these might not be the right options.
Not every seed is created equal and some are healthier for you and will grow better than others. If possible, purchase certified organic seeds or seedlings from a grower, nursery, or friend. If you can’t find certified organic seeds, get seeds that are identified, but not certified, as organic or search for wild harvested seeds or seedlings.
Buy natural fertilizer
Having the right fertilizer can make a difference. Often, fertilizers with synthetic or artificial ingredients are harmful to plants and the humans that eat them. Instead, search for certified or organic OMRI fertilizer. You can also make your own compost with earthworm casting, animal manure, and other non synthetic materials.
Getting the (right) dirt
While many people focus on the quality of their seeds or fertilizer (as they should), they often ignore the quality of their soil. When your plants grow in bad soil, they are going to be depleted of nutrients and won’t grow properly. Plants grown in nutrient-rich soil are healthier for humans. In fact, eating plants grown in good soil improves your immune system!
Consider purchasing certified organic or OMRI label soil, topsoil, potting mix, soil mix, or compost. If you can’t find that, try to find soil that is organic but not certified or soil that was used last year for different crops.
Hydrate the right away
Many people use filtered water in their home, but grab a hose with city water when watering their plants. This could be impacting how organic your garden can be considered. Try to collect rainwater or get stream or well water to ensure the organic quality of your crops. Avoid city water, bottled water, or gray water (water from sewage) if you can.
Choose native plants
While it is possible to grow more plants than ever before, it doesn’t mean you should be growing plants meant for other regions than your own. Instead of choosing whatever plants you want, do some research and choose native plants. Since they originated in your geographic area, native plants grow stronger and healthier. These plants are also often disease resistant.
Save at least ¼ of your garden for native plants. If you’re curious what plants are considered native in your area, you can check out the Farmer’s Almanac website. They have the option to type in your zip code and learn when and what types of crops you should be plants.
Control those pest naturally
You don’t need DEET or other harmful products to stop the pests from attacking your plants. Instead set up mechanical traps, such as traps, netting, fencing, hand picking, repellants. You can also use biological control, such as releasing predatory insects or insectaries. When possible, avoid commercial baits or commercial insecticides, fungicides, or pesticides.
Avoid garden containers
Many gardening stores have cute flower pots and other containers to put your crops in. While artificial commercial containers and plastic boxes might be visually aesthetic, they may be harming the quality of your plants. Try to plant directly into the ground. If you have to use a garden container because you don’t have a yard or the porch is the best place for your crops, opt for clay or ceramic pots, hay bales, or concrete blocks.
We often get along better with some people than others. Plants are the same way too! Some herbs and plants should be planted near each other in order to increase biodiversity and so they can help each other thrive.
For example, dill, parsley, and angelica should be planted near each other to attract beneficial insects and enhance biodiversity. Often plants that are good in dishes together, such as tomato and basil, are also good companions in the ground.
Weeds aren’t your enemy. Instead of trying to kill weeds with a spray, cultivate them. When you hoe, rake, and weed by hand, you can control the weed population and make sure your crops grow. However, you’re also not using harmful weed sprays which can also affect the health and how organic your crops can be.
Money saving organic plants
One of the biggest complaints about organic gardening is that it can be expensive. Due to the increased importance organic farmers place on the quality of their crops, organic produce is often more expensive when bought in the supermarket.
However, growing your own crops can be a more budget-friendly way to eat organically. When you grow your own organic garden, you can choose to DIY certain elements. Instead of getting water from a well or purchasing organic fertilizer, you can collect rainwater and make your own compost. If you are friends with others who are committed to organic gardening, you can share seeds, soil, and other elements to increase the biodiversity of your garden on a budget.
There are also certain organic crops which are more affordable to grow. Some of those crops include:
- Basil, Sweet
- Bell peppers
- Black magic eggplant
- Cherry sweet pepper
- Green beans
- Italian sweet pepper
- Snap beans
- Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
- Tomatoes: Jet Star, Jackpot, Supersteak, Cherry, Cherry Presto
- Yellow wax beans
- Zucchini elite
If you want to learn more about organic gardening and using nature to live a healthier, happier life, consider taking my free quiz. When you take the quiz, you’ll discover how organic your garden is and will get weekly tips on how to improve your health overall using gardening and other nature-based practices.