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Helpful Organic Gardening Techniques for a Beginner

Organic gardening is not a new method of gardening; it is the traditional way of farming presented in a modern way. The system is dependent on some guiding principles that set a path or goal for the entire system. The central purpose is the growing of healthy foods and in so doing reduce the number of lifestyle and genetic diseases. Organic gardening stands for gardening in agreement with nature; that farmers should plant their crops with very little interference with the soil and when necessary, using natural methods. One of these principles involves the use of chemicals such as pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers; organic gardeners are advised to use only natural methods. The system also insists on control instead of elimination; for example instead of eliminating all the insects in your garden, consider controlling with use of a wasp trap or use biological methods, then you can invest in a bug hotel to encourage beneficial insects in your garden especially predators and pollinators. The same goes for weed control, that should be all natural using methods such as crop rotation, mulching, and cover crops, any weeds that still occur after that can be used as food for pet animals such as rabbits, luckily there are some great outdoor rabbit hutch plans accessible for building an amazing outdoor hutch.

Organic gardening has some guiding principles for all organic gardening, while some things may differ; the guiding principles and goals are the same.

1. Water in the early morning or late afternoon (not in the heat of the day). Most plants require about 1” of water per week. (Approx. 1hr with sprinkler; check by setting out a can/glass to measure water.)

2. Weed in the later part of the day. When you weed, you expose the soil and thus make it more

susceptible to evaporation. Weeding also eliminates competition for nutrients in the soil. It is easier to weed after a watering, the roots will be loosened.

3. Harvest leafy and fruiting vegetables in the morning. (Lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, etc), they have the most moisture in them at this time. Harvest root crops or winter squashes late in the day. They will store longer because they will have less moisture in them.

4. Properly planning your garden can eliminate many insect and disease problems.

5. Companion plant; Grow vegetables and flowers together as they grow well with each other.

6. Fertilize: Use an all-purpose organic fertilizer when the plants shows signs that they need it: spring before planting; when plant puts on buds; when plant begins to set fruit. Add Compost: Make sure to add compost each time you harvest and plant a new crop.

7. Rotate your crops; follow heavy feeders with heavy givers and then light feeders.

8. Use Natural Insect Control enlisting the aid of nature. Birds eat thousands of insects and weed seeds. Set up a bird feeder or two. Plant flowers & herbs to deter unwanted insects.

• Borage: deters many pests including tomato hornworm.

• Marigolds: deter nematodes, leafhoppers, Mexican bean beetles and other pests.

• Nasturtiums: deter aphids, cabbage looper, squash bug, white fly, cucumber beetles.

• Hand pick unwanted pest if needed and feed to happy chickens!

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9. Cover cropping is another organic technique where crops are planted for the sole purpose of conditioning the soil. Used to promote soil fertility, cover cropping also helps with water drainage and weed control. Buckwheat, fava beans and clover are great cover crops.

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10. Double-digging involves loosening the soil to a substantial depth, and amending the top layer. The steps in double-digging (Figure 2) are as follows:

• Spread a layer of compost and other soil amendments on the surface of the area to be dug.

• Using a spade or short-handled shovel, remove a trench of soil approximately one foot deep and one foot wide along the narrow end of the bed.

• Loosen the soil at the bottom of the trench with the shovel or a spading fork. Avoid mixing soil layers as much as possible.

• Dig a one foot by one-foot trench next to your existing one and place the soil removed on top of the loosened soil in your first trench.

• Repeat steps 3 and 4 along the length of the bed.

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11. Intercropping is the growing of two or more crops together in proximity on the same land. As a result, two or more crops are managed at the same time. It differs from crop rotation in which two or more crops are grown one after the other. There are at least four types of intercropping according to spatial arrangement

• Row intercropping is the growing of two or more crops at the same time with at least one crop planted in rows. In farms grown to perennial crops, annual crops like corn, rice and pineapple are commonly grown as intercrop between the rows of the main crop. This strategy is an efficient way of maximizing the use of farmland by utilizing vacant spaces while at the same time suppressing the growth of weeds during the juvenile stage of the main crop.

• In crop rotation or sequential cropping, two or more crops are grown one after the other in the same piece of land. It is advantageous that the succeeding crop belongs to a family different from that of the previous crop. The period of crop rotation may be for two to three years or longer. Farm income significantly increased by alternating lowland rice with high-value crops like garlic, onion, melons, bell pepper and other vegetables.

• Mixed intercropping or mixed cropping is the growing of two or more crops at the same time with no distinct row arrangement.

• Examples of mixed intercropping of annual crops are the practice of growing corn, bean and squash in Central America and forage sorghum with silage corn in Oregon. In Canada, research showed increased production per land area by growing together soybean and corn for silage in the same rows. The result showed that corn grown at 16,000 seeding rate per acre (equivalent to 67% of the sole corn rate) together with soybean at seeding rate of 135,000 per acre (equivalent to 67% of the sole bean rate) within the same rows gave the highest profit. Fertilizer was applied at the rate of 53 lbs of N per acre.

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