Six Steps to Growing an Organic Vegetable Garden Without Giving Up Your Life

Six Steps to Growing an Organic Vegetable Garden Without Giving Up Your Life

I’d wanted an organic vegetable garden for years, but as I’d lived in apartments until I was married, I could only grow a few plants in a pot here and there. So I was thrilled when my husband and I bought our house, and I finally had a yard where I could create a garden.

I waited until my son was around a year old, then began planning a spring garden. I couldn’t wait. Fresh, homegrown organic food and a lower food budget would soon be mine.

Remembering how I loved to eat sugar snap peas straight off the vine when I was a kid, peas were one of the first crops I planted. I’d even grown them in pots with some success, so I was certain they would do well with little maintenance.

About six weeks after sowing the seeds, the now-flowering pea plants were covered with aphids. Determined to maintain an organic vegetable garden, I tried all the natural means: hosing them off, buying ladybugs at the nursery, spraying with a natural repellent.

All to no avail. I lost every single plant to whatever disease the aphids had spread, and didn’t harvest a single pea pod that year.

If my story rings true, then you know how difficult gardening-especially organic gardening-can be to integrate into an already full schedule. But there is a way. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to manage an organic vegetable garden without having to devote all your free time to it. Allow me to share them with you…

1. Start small, and stay small until you have more free time. Mothers with babies and toddlers especially need to be patient. I would have done a lot better, the year my peas were destroyed, if I had tended a small lettuce patch in the spring, then grown a couple of tomato plants, and maybe a cucumber, in the summer.

If you really want to grow some of your own vegetables, but don’t think you have time for a garden, read up on container gardening. Anybody can find time to tend to five potted plants per day, especially since container gardens tend to be close to the house, so you are more likely to remember to check them. Which leads me to the next point…

2. Make time to check on your plants at least every other day. Especially if you have restrained yourself from planting too big of an organic vegetable garden, carefully checking each plant for disease and pests on alternate days won’t take very much time. But the time you invest doing it will pay off big-time. You’ll be able to find pests and recognize the beginning stages of disease before they have a chance to completely obliterate your crops.

3. Try companion planting. When you plant various herbs and flowers among your vegetables, you help to both repel pests and attract beneficial insects that eat the pests. And the fewer pests you have to deal with, the less time you have to spend in the garden.

4. Write down the fertilizing schedule in a calendar or daytimer you look at often. If you overfertilize, you end up with a lot of foliage and not much harvest. Underfertilizing will lead to pathetic looking plants and small fruits. Different crops have different feeding requirements, so getting yourself organized in this area of gardening will really pay off.

5. Set up an easy watering system. Some people spring for an underground irrigation system. If that’s a bit out of your budget, lay soaker hoses an inch or so under the soil where you’re going to plant. Being able to turn on a spigot and leave it for twenty minutes is much easier than lugging a hose around the yard.

If you plan to container garden, consider investing in self-watering planters, or even making some yourself. You can find instructions to do so online.

6. Consider raised bed gardening. Or, at the very least, mulch your garden heavily. Either way will save you a lot of weeding (I have practically no weeds in my raised beds). Raised beds are also much easier to dig into because of the loose soil.

Growing your very own organic vegetable garden, even if your days are full, is possible. Follow these tips, and you will soon find yourself surrounded by delicious food from a garden you have spent only a few minutes a day on.

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