So you want to eat organic meals? But organic food is expensive to buy. There is a solution to that! Grow organic food and enjoy delicious meals at low cost.
While you may have a limited amount of space, you can utilise it effectively to grow your produce. All you need to do is roll up your sleeves and start growing your own mini organic vegetable farm.
1. Start with a plan
Before you start your mini organic farm, plan for the fruits, vegetables and herbs you want to plant. Base it on what will work for you and is good for where you live.
Start with seasonal fruits and vegetables which will be the easiest to grow. Get a gardening calendar to guide you through the seasons.
Choose a section of your garden space that gets at least six hours of sunlight.
2. Prepare the soil
It’s important that the soil has all the important nutrients the plants need to grow.
Growing organic means that the plants will grow in harmony with the environment and that they do not rely on chemicals and fertilisers.
Improve your soil by mixing compost with other bulky organic matter.
Organic matter is anything that comes from something living such humus which is derived from the decomposition of plants. Make sure your soil is rich in humus.
Other organic matter includes animal manures, kitchen scraps, grass, garden cuttings, sawdust and pine bark.
Good organic soil is loose and fluffy. It holds moisture well but also drains well. It has plenty of air for the plants to breathe and is full of nutrients for the plants to grow vigorously. Organic soil will be full of living organisms such as earthworms, fungi and bacteria that help maintain the quality of the soil.
Every organic garden needs organic compost which you can make yourself.
Composting is how you turn your organic waste - kitchen scraps and garden clippings into a brown-black substance which is full of nitrogen and other nutrients.
Mix organic waste in a compost bin or a pile in the corner and leave them to break down naturally. Turn it over with a fork periodically to add air and to speed up the composting process.
Choose plants that give you multiple yields and are not too intensive to grow. Group similar plants in one bed so that they can be harvested together and it also reduces pests and diseases.
Grouping also helps you reduce water waste and you can target nutrients and compost.
Raised beds are great for planting your organic garden. For urban gardeners, you can also create a no-dig garden above the soil. Lay newspapers, hay, compost and fertilisers until you have achieved a raised bed.
Water your mini farm in the afternoon so the water can penetrate. If you water in the morning, evaporation is higher. Damp soil is what the plant needs.
You will also have to reduce weeds in your garden by removing them by hand. Make sure you remove the weeds by the roots so they don’t regrow.
There are other organic ways to control your weeds such as mulching, solarising and using boiling water.
7. Organic Pest control
Make sure that your plants get enough light, moisture and nutrients to avoid pests. Companion plantings and a diverse garden also reduce the number of pests.
Be sure to harvest your garden when your plants are ready. This will encourage more to grow.