HOW TO GROW VEGETABLES ORGANICALLY
Few things in the gardening world are quite as satisfying as growing your own vegetables. Not only do you get to enjoy their beautiful, green presence in your garden throughout the season, but you also get to reap the benefits of their delicious flavors on your plate! Of course, we want to be able to enjoy them without the worry of chemicals and pesticides, though, but growing organic can seem like quite a lot more work compared to the synthetic alternatives. However, it’s actually much simpler than it seems! Here’s how:
TO GROW VEGETABLES ORGANICALLY YOU NEED HEALTHY SOIL
It’s every gardener’s dream come true to have rich, loamy black gold soil in their yard, but it may not quite be your reality. Here in Indianapolis, any times the soil in newer neighborhoods is very thin, has very little organic material, and plenty of weed seeds. Soil in older neighborhoods can be depleted of nutrients and organic matter from years of growing high demand plants. Most of us will probably need to make a few amendments to get our soil just right for growing vegetables—especially if we want to keep it organic. A great way to figure out exactly what your garden needs is with a soil test kit, which you can get here at the garden center. This test will help you figure out exactly what nutrients your soil is missing, and we’ll help you find the organic matter you need to balance it, from manure to peat to compost.
There’s also another simple way that you can start right away to help improve your soil: compost! The process of composting is fairly simple, it improves your soil, and it helps reduce your carbon footprint—a win-win-win situation! Before you get started, do some research into the type of composter you’d like, there are plenty of options from DIY to self-contained, and we’d be happy to set you up with everything you need to get started. Plus, we’ll even share our tips for keeping your compost fresh and stink-free!
FEEDING YOUR VEGETABLES ORGANICALLY
In order to grow big and strong to feed our families, vegetables need quite a bit of feeding themselves. And while synthetic fertilizers are well-known solutions to this need, there are plenty of organic options available, too! Both compost and manure are chock-full of minerals and nutrients that our vegetable plants crave, making them ideal choices for organic growing. However, there are also many organic fertilizers available, as well! Just keep an eye out for the “OMRI” label, which will tell you it’s safe for organic use.
CONTROLLING GARDEN PESTS & DISEASES ORGANICALLY
One of the biggest challenges Indianapolis gardeners often face with organic vegetable gardening is trying to keep out the pests and diseases without using chemicals. Pesticides and chemicals work quickly and effectively, but they also have lasting effects that can damage not only the health of our soil, but also the pollinators, as well. Thankfully, there are plenty of organic alternatives to consider!
When it comes to any pest or disease control, prevention is the best first step. Keep pests out with fabric row covers, copper wire tape, and traps—for example, a pool of beer in a small dish is a great way to trap slugs! If prevention doesn’t work, though, and you still find the pests getting cozy with your vegetables, you’ll want to take things up a notch. Pick off any bugs you see by hand and dispose of them as far away from your garden as you can. You can also release a natural predator, like ladybugs or nematodes, or apply a treatment of neem oil, too.
Badly damaged and diseased leaves or plants should always be disposed of in the garbage as soon as possible to prevent spread to other plants. Never compost infected or infested matter.
EASIEST VEGETABLES TO GROW ORGANICALLY
Some of the easiest vegetables to grow organically here in Indianapolis are lettuce, carrots, beets, green beans, pumpkins, zucchini, onions, and potatoes. Most of these vegetables are quite hardy, and can be directly seeded into your garden in spring. As long as you keep up with watering, you should have an excellent crop of organic vegetables to harvest.
GROW ORGANIC VEGETABLES INDOORS
You can also grow a variety of organic vegetables and herbs indoors in containers. Lettuces and herbs do particularly well in pots, as do tomatoes and peppers. The secret with lettuce is to plant new seeds every two weeks. This way you’ll always have fresh lettuce ready to pick for your dinner! You can also grow many vegetables and herbs in pots or containers, and move them outside in the spring when the weather warms up.
Growing vegetables in your garden organically, while it seems like a challenge, is easier than you think. The reward of fresh vegetables, bursting with flavour, on your plate, or even as a snack while you’re gardening, is so satisfying. If you have any questions or challenges growing your own veggies organically, stop by the garden center today and we’d be happy to help you out!