A view of Seattle Tilth's greenhouse and nearby P-Patch
I’ve been very busy for the past month taking an Organic Gardening class at Seattle Tilth. It’s a comprehensive class that focuses primarily on growing annual vegetables without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
I’ve been a gardener for years, but this year I really want to focus on edible landscaping, growing more of my own food, and trying to do it all organically.
Also, a big positive note in taking the class has been getting to know so many other people passionate about food and gardens, urban farming, and getting their hands dirty!
I summed up what I think the big three points are concerning what your organic garden needs.
1) Great Soil - The earth you plant your food in is the most important element when growing healthy and organic edible plants. Make sure to get your soil tested. Amend with the proper balance of essential nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium), natural amendments such as algae/kelp, or other beneficial bacterial.
2) Great Plan – Going to your garden center in spring is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming experience. So many varieties of tomatoes! Lettuce seeds! Alpine strawberries! But the best thing to do is plan what you’re going to have in your garden for the year before even breaking ground. Observe the sun’s path on your property to determine the best place for your garden. Remember crop rotation from high school history class? It’s still applicable today! Think about the entire growing season instead of just individual crops. Try to spread out your garden’s output so that you have a continuous supply of what you and your family love to eat.
3) Organic Pest and Disease Control – Central to most people’s perception of organic gardening is the lack of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This is true, but what really keeps the bugs an disease at bay are a few things: putting the right plant in the right place, having the soil properly amended, and rotating the types of crops you plant. Beware any type of pest control that doesn’t involve just taking off diseased leaves or simply crushing or disposing of little critters that will destroy a crop. A little bit of proper prevention of pests and disease is actually the best “cure”!
I’ll be elaborating more on these points in future posts! Until then, think about your soil and planning your garden before going to the store or ordering from a seed catalog!