How to Start and Care for Your Organic Garden

SandiTomatoe

Blog April 13, 2016

You can get more information on what to do or not to do with your organic vegetable garden by going to your computer and doing searches.  But that can be no fun and lead to frustration.  I will tell you what we do and then you can do what you want.  Here goes!

Design – Design the garden layout of your plants. –  Our garden is 11 feet long and 8 feet wide.  We have a walking path around 3 sides of the garden and a fence on the 4th side.  (The total space is 17 feet by 11 feet.) We have 4 rows for planting that are 10 feet long.  Our heavy duty water hose is attached to the poly tubing main line with 4 watering lines attached to the main line.  It looks like an E with an extra arm.  I think you can get the picture!?!

Decide how you want the layout of the tubing to water all of your plants for your garden.  Measure the length of your rows plus the main line (in feet) so you know how much tubing to buy.  Our 4 rows are 10 feet long and the main line is 7 feet, so we need 47 feet.  I buy 50 to 55 feet.  There is no limit to the design you can create but the simple way is the better way.  KISS!

Water – We all know we need to water our plants to keep them alive.  We use a drip system.  Why?  It saves up to 60% of the water used by a sprinkler system and it doesn’t get your plants leaves wet, which can help prevent disease problems.  Keep your eyes out for over or under watering.  The plants will let you know.  If you are over-watering your plant’s leaves will wilt, start to turn yellow or the leaves will start dying.  You say that sounds like under watering.  Similar but with too little water the plant will wilt, the leaves will turn brown or dye and the plant growth will be stunted.

We selected a drip system that you can place the location of the water drip next to the plant to be watered.  We also use a timer because we don’t have to remember to water and it does it for us when we are traveling.  Easy?  After you get it set up, it is.

Our drip system from the water faucet to the plant, goes like this: Connect the Timer to the Faucet – the Heavy Duty Hose to the Timer – the Pressure Reducer to the Heavy Duty Hose – the Pressure Reducer to the 3/4″ Female Hose Thread and 1/2″ Universal Tee – the 3/4″ Female Hose Thread and 1/2″ Universal Tee to the ½” Poly Tubing to the Main Line. Where do you cut the main line to connect the 3/4″ Female Hose Thread and 1/2″ Universal Tee?  Measure the distance to be covered by your main line.  Cut the Main Line at the center of that length.  Connect the Main Line you cut to each end of the Tee Adapter –attach the Elbow Adapter to each end of Main Line – Go back to the main line, determine the location of each row you need –  cut the main line for each row and insert a Tee Adapter.  (Continue to do this until you have all of your rows attached to your Main Line) – attach the Poly Tubing to all Tee and Elbow Adapters – to close off the end of the Poly Tubing use a Figure 8 Tubing End Clamp – bend the end of Poly Tubing back on itself to attach the Figure 8 Tubing End Clamp.  NOW using your hole punch – Punch your hole where you need your drippers – Don’t worry if you punch a hole in the wrong place or change your mind on the location. They make “goof plugs” for you!  Insert your drippers. Congratulations!  You have completed your drip system!  Now for the moments of truth: Turn on the water slowly to determine the water flow and find the leaks. 

That paragraph could be the lyrics to a song…Hummmm!  If this is hard to follow, go to www.dripworks.com

Mulch – We mulch or cover our soil with organic materials, such as hay, leaves, straw, sawdust, paper, bark or grass clipping.  Be mindful that you do not introduce seeds from the hay, straw and grass into your garden or you might end up growing hay, straw or grass in your garden.  Why do we mulch?  It help to retain the moisture of your soil, helps to keep your soil temperature consistent, helps keep the soil from eroding in heavy rains, helps control diseases and best of all, it helps to keep weeds out of your garden.  Be sure you keep 3 to 4 inches of mulch on your garden.  Add to as needed!

Staking – We stake for many reasons. It helps to increase the planting area in your garden, it keep plants from breaking as it grows and when the veggies get heavy, it keeps the plants and veggies clean, it helps with the distribution of sunlight on the plants, it helps keep the airflow moving in the garden, it help keep the leaves dry, it helps to expose the flowers for pollination, it helps to find the ripe fruit to pick, it is easier to prune your plants, it keeps the veggies from getting sunburn, it helps to keep your veggies from rotting, it helps to keep the veggies from being eaten by our friendly bugs, birds, squirrels, or rabbits.  There are many ways to stake your garden – trellises, stakes, A-frames, tepees, or cages.  Use your imaginations and things around your house or garage.  Have fun with it!  Plus it helps our garden look better.  I am all for pretty gardens!

Maintenance – Feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants.  I said this last week about getting your garden soil ready to be planted.  Feeding your soil with organic compost will keep your soil healthy and that helps keep your plants healthy so they are capable of resisting insects and disease.  Weeding – We don’t like but it is necessary. Start early and stay with it.  Insects and diseases love weeds.  Cleaning – compost your rotting or dead leaves, weeds and plants.  Tools – Clean and disinfect your tools including your shoes and gloves.  Your tools can spread disease from plants that are infected that they have been used on.  Plant Covers – Use shade covers when the heat rises to keep your garden plants from wilting.  Use bird covers to keep your veggies safe from pecking birds.  Harvest – Pick as soon as they are ripe and ready to eat.  Remove the plants that have stopped producing.  Compost them if they are disease free.  Always remove the parts (leaves, branches, vegetables) of the plants or the plant that are diseased and destroy them.

It is never too early or late to plant but check the varieties for your area, have the proper protection and techniques according to your climate. 

Good Growing means…Good Eating,

Sandi

Terra Verde Foods

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