Organic has become very popular today. As more Tulsa residents turn to eating organic foods, many have seen the benefits of starting their own organic food garden. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, vegetable and fruit gardens had a 76.4 percent popularity ranking for outdoor design elements. Everybody’s going green and an organic garden in Tulsa is one way to include sustainable landscape design into your outdoor space.
Not only is growing veggies healthier for your family, especially organic vegetables which are not grown using chemicals, but doing so can also save your family quite a bit at the grocery store. So where do you start with planning an organic garden? Below are a few tips to help jumpstart you on your path to organic gardening and healthy living.
Planning your garden – what you want in it and where – will be your first step. It’s good to put your ideas on paper so you can clearly see any problems that could come up. Will you grow just vegetables or vegetables and herbs? Will you plant in containers or in the soil? The University of Maryland Extension recommends placing taller crops on the north and west sides of the garden so that they will not block the sunlight from shorter plants. They also encourage grouping plants by the season they grow in and how long they take to mature, and allow space between rows for watering and maintaining your garden.
In thinking about where to plant your garden, the University of Maryland noted, choose a level spot of ground that gets at least six hours of full sunlight a day with no trees, shrubs, or tall objects around. The root systems of nearby trees and shrubs can disrupt your vegetable garden. It’s also good to place your garden within a short distance of your water supply.
Preparing your soil is your next step to a ‘fruitful’ garden. Soil needs to have plenty of nutrients and oxygen to grow strong, healthy plants. You can determine the quality of your soil by getting it tested, either with a home testing kit or through your local agricultural extension office. To make sure your soil has enough nutrients, you’ll want to add compost, with different types of organic matter such as grass and leaf clippings (without herbicides) as well as manure, to the soil.
The next step is choosing your crops and planting. Of course, it’s a good idea to choose veggies that you like and those that are expensive to buy in the store. Crops that are easier to grow such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and zucchini, greens, and pole beans will not only make gardening easier for you but also more enjoyable when you see the fruitage of your labors. Native plants and crops that will thrive and be more drought and disease resistant are also a good idea for a garden.
“If you’re buying seedlings, look for plants raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. A great place to look is at your local farmer’s market, which may also have native plants and varieties well suited to your area,” The Daily Green reported. “It’s better to buy stocky seedlings with few, if any blooms yet, and with roots that don’t look overcrowded.”
With smaller seeds, it may be slightly difficult to determine how far apart to space the seeds, and you may have to thin out seeds later. Your local garden store, agriculture extension, or the seed packet itself should have information about the correct spacing for a particular seed. In any case, whether using large, small seeds, or transplants, “pushing the envelope too far [with spacing] will cause a decline in yield and plant problems,” the University of Maryland noted.
Finally, watering and taking care of your organic garden are essential for great crops. It’s best to water crops in the morning to avoid disease problems and evaporation. In general, crops do well with one inch of water per week, although some crops may have different watering requirements based on such factors as type and growing stage. The local climate will also determine whether more water is needed. Watering at the base of plant is best to help the root system grow deeper. A drip irrigation system is a good way to deliver water to the base of the plant. Applying mulch to the garden will help keep out weeds while helping to conserve moisture in the soil.
Organic gardening is not only fun and a relaxing hobby, but can help your family to eat healthier while you get in touch with nature and ‘find yourself outside.’ Oklahoma Landscape can help you design the right organic garden for your landscape and your lifestyle.