The last thing you want to do is put something in your compost pile that will not only harm your soil and your plants, but also harm you. You are, after all, what you eat. What goes into your vegetable garden eventually makes its way into you.
One of the best things you can do for your brand-new garden before you plant a single seed is to double till your patch. We don’t mean till it twice along the surface, we mean till it twice as deep. About 2 feet deep. Urban and suburban soil has been covered with lawn, compacted and neglected below the surface. If you want a bountiful harvest from fertile soil, you have to peel off the lawn and dig deep to bring your soil back to life.
There are a number of natural fertilizers and soil amendments available to either add to your soil before planting, or to feed your fruits and vegetables throughout the growing season. Soil testing before planting will give you the information you need to add the correct soil amendments, and observing your plants while they are growing will help you determine which fertilizers will best serve their needs.
Not everyone has a yard in which to plant a garden. They might live in a high-rise overlooking a major city skyline with only a deck or a large sunny window. They might live in a tightly-packed condo or apartment complex that has small “yardlets” that get no sun. They might rent a house or duplex from a landlord that won’t allow them to dig up the yard for a garden – after all, if they move away, will the next tenant do anything with the garden or will it end up being a big muddy hole?
It doesn’t need to be fancy.
Cement blocks, wire mesh and metal stakes, 2 X 4 boards and chicken wire…all of these items can be fashioned into a working compost bin that will confine your compost pile in one place.
There’s nothing quite like an herb garden. Not only do herbs ward off some pests who are repelled by their strong scent, they just look beautiful, and the taste of fresh herbs in your cooking cannot be beat. You will wonder how you ever cooked with that dried stuff in the bottles at the supermarket.
Weeding your vegetable garden is a necessary evil. Healthy soil that supports healthy vegetables will also support weeds, and your job is to stop them cold. Not only do they compete with your vegetables for space and soil nutrients, they also attract pests and disease to your garden.
With all the emphasis on organic vegetable gardening here there and everywhere, growing fruit often gets ignored. Maybe it’s the thought of all that pruning, or the patience factor: it can take 2-3 years for a fruit tree or bush to actually produce any fruit. So you have to wait. But, if you are a patient and tenacious fruit lover, you are perfectly capable of planting a thriving fruit garden as well as a vegetable garden.
Watering your vegetable garden by hand – using a watering can or the garden hose – is a perfectly reasonable way to take care of your plants, particularly if you have a small garden. The last thing you want to do is set a sprinkler in the middle of your garden and soak the foliage. Why?
Compost is the absolute best fertilizer or soil amendment you can use in an organic fruit and vegetable garden. It helps create loam from sandy/silty or clay soils, prevents soil from becoming too acidic or basic, and is an excellent source of the proper balance of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.