If the month of March could be defined by a colour it would probably be the colour green. This is the month that ushers in the spring season bringing lush and leafy colour back into the natural environment, perhaps even adding a hint of green to your thumb and inspiring the planting of a garden.
If you’ve ever considered starting your own organic garden, this time of renewal and growth is the most opportune. With a small growing area, some planning, and dedication you can grow your own fruits and vegetables and know exactly what’s going into the food you harvest. Like many outdoor pursuits, the stress-relieving benefits of connecting with the earth through gardening can help you cope with many of life’s ups and downs. If gardening is your passion, this time will help you find peace of mind and make you happier, too!
Here are some tips to begin sowing the seeds to later reap the rewards of an organic garden:
Have a Plan
Probably the most important tip is planning. Determine what the goals for your garden are and what you’d like to grow. As a beginner you may wish to start out with plants that are easier to grow such as tomatoes, onions, zucchini and mint.
One of the biggest mistakes novice gardeners make is starting out too big. The trick is to start small and get a handle on the growing so that you don’t end up quitting. An area as small as 100 square feet can actually grow a lot of food if planted densely. Start out with one or two plants and work your way up from there. Even one plant can have a generous yield when cared for properly.
Gardening, like real estate is about location. It’s important to choose the best area for your planting, one which sees full sun exposure. Most fruits and vegetables need plenty of light and heat in order to flourish so you’ll want a spot where they see sunlight at least 6 hours a day. It is also important to ensure that the place you choose for planting offers sufficient draining abilities.
Much like building a house, growing a garden is dependent on a good foundation; in this case that is good soil. Making good soil means incorporating a couple of inches of compost (which can be made from leaves and garden trimmings and kitchen scraps) into the top few inches, maintaining a 2-4 inch layer of straw or leaf mulch (not bark, wood or stones), and providing adequate water. If your backyard (or growing area) does not contain high quality soil you may have to acquire some organic soil. In addition you will want to fertilize the soil throughout the growing season.
Start with Plants
If you’re new to the gardening game it is recommended to start out buying your plants (raised without chemical fertilizers and pesticides) and working your way up to starting seedlings of your own. Once you have your plants ready, dig a hole that is just as deep and at least twice as wide as the root; place your plant in; backfill with the soil you removed; tamp it in and water thoroughly. When the planting is all done give the entire garden a 3 inch thick layer of organic mulch which will help to prevent weeds and retain soil moisture.
A newly planted area should be watered every 2-3 days to start out; watering the roots and not the greenery. By late spring that number will come down to 1-3 times a week. Also, the best time for watering is in the morning when it is cooler so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced.
Following these basic principles will get your organic garden growing and with patience and perseverance you’ll reap the healthy benefits. In the words of English poet Alfred Austin, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To grow a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul”.
For more stress relief, we encourage you to make an appointment at Total Wellness, as we have a variety of therapies to assist you along the way.