by Frank Kehren
Planning Your Organic Garden
Once you have decided to create a garden, the first thing on your mental checklist, should be ‘location, location, location.’ The garden should be designed for the climate, space available, and the crop you want to grow.
Decide where and how much you are going to plant.
The location of your garden affects the amount of light and/or shade your plants receive.Certain plant species require a certain amount of sunlight to grow well. If there are specific plants you plan to have in your garden, research their light requirements before picking the garden location.
When you own your own home with land, space might not be much of a concern. Those without readily available land, might have to join a gardening collective (preferably one that is using organic methods) and get a single bed or more of your own.
Note: If the collective garden is not already organic, you probably should not become a member because the soil will not be chemical-free. The non-organic products they have already used are in the soil, and can stay in the soil for a long time. Fresh, new soil might be needed to start growing an organic garden. It really does not make sense to only convert your area to natural methods because someone else in another portion of the garden could still use their chemicals and it can affect your section through chemical runoff.
In an apartment complex, you might persuade the management to give you space in a court yard or perhaps use the roof, to have a rooftop garden. There is also the option of growing indoors, using window boxes or other containers like a grow/earth box.
The climate where you live has to be taken into consideration if you are going to have an outdoor garden. If you do indoor gardening, either in a greenhouse or inside your house, you will be able to control the climate to varying degrees. When a garden is outside, you have to work in conjunction with nature. The United States Department of Agriculture developed the USDA Hardiness Zone Finder Map. This map divides North America into 11 separate zones; each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone.
If you see a hardiness zone in a catalog or plant description, chances are it refers to the USDA map. There are Zone Finder tools that allow you to enter your zip code or click on an area of a US map to discover the zone of your location. The mapping system does have it’s drawbacks but overall it is a very good way for gardeners to compare their garden climates with the climate where a plant is known to grow well. It gives you an idea about whether the plant you are thinking about planting in your garden, will do well in the climate of your location.