Growing Organic Leafy Vegetables

Growing organic leafy vegetables

Organically grown vegetables are free of potentially poisonous sprays, artificial colorings, and preservatives that may be found in vegetables purchased in the market. Organically grown leafy vegetables invariably taste better. These organic leafy vegetables are free from pesticides, which make them even healthier to consume. There are numerous health benefits associated with leafy vegetables. These leafy vegetables are low in calories and fats and certainly fulfill most of the requirements of the body. They are loaded with iron, vitamin C and K. Vegetables such as organic cabbage, organic kale, organic broccoli, and organic spinach are some of the top leafy vegetables that you should munch on now and then.

A step by step guide to growing organic leafy vegetables

Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, endive, radicchio, and cabbage differ among themselves in appearance as well as in taste. Being enriched with vitamin K is one of their critical aspects, and they aid in preventing certain age-related conditions. These vegetables are also loaded with Vitamin B which further converts the carbohydrates in food to glucose that the body can utilize to produce energy. They help in lowering cholesterol levels and keep blood pressure under check. They also help to temper the spikes in blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates in the bloodstream.

Growing your organic leafy vegetables is a great way to ensure you have healthy foods for your favorite recipes. When you grow organic vegetables, you won’t be able to treat them with chemicals or herbicides, so you’ll need to be more mindful of pests. If you want to start an organic vegetable garden, choose a suitable spot in your yard, build a raised bed, or set up planting containers. Organic fertilizer with nitrogen can be a good choice for your garden because it provides vegetables and fruits with the fuel they want to grow without using harmful chemicals. Here’s what you should know about organic nitrogen fertilizer and how to use it in your organic leafy green vegetable garden. One of the best benefits of organic leafy vegetables is their ability to support the immune system.

What is organic?

Organically grown produce cannot be grown with the use of chemically based fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. It does not necessarily mean that no pesticides were used, but any pesticides can have to be regulated and non-synthetic. It is not allowed to be genetically modified and has not been irradiated.

Collard Greens.
Collard Greens.

To be considered organic, animal products require coming from animals that were fed with an organic diet and raised under certain conditions that promote animal health and welfare. Technically, the food you grow in your own home leafy vegetable garden could be considered organic if you don’t use synthetic pesticides and you stick with natural fertilizers.

Good quality soil for growing organic leafy vegetables

Maintenance of good soil health is the foundation of organic vegetable production. One of the highly touted means of achieving good soil health is through increasing soil organic matter. Since most soils have 1% or less organic matter, this can be a long term, highly challenging process. High soil temperature levels can cause rapid decomposition of applied organic matter, requiring large volume applications over long periods. If you have good-quality soil that drains well, then it’s easiest to plant the garden directly into the ground. If you’d like to plant directly into the ground but don’t want to use existing soil, dig out the plot and replace it with organic soil. Use a shovel to remove at least about 1 foot of soil from your plot. Then, pour organic soil into the plot to use for planting beds. You can buy organic soil at the local gardening store or online.

Create patches for leafy greens and add compost

It takes time to make quality, nitrogen-rich compost which can be used in the garden. Not only do you have to gather and pile up different types of organic matter, but you also have to wait several months and even years for it to decompose into soil full of plant nutrients. That’s why most new gardeners don’t have any of their compost obtainable at the start of their first gardening season. However, if you can get your hands on finished compost, it’s a good idea to use it. Select spots where you would like to grow leafy vegetable plants. Then, shovel those spots to loosen and aerate the soil (8 inches or 20 centimeters deep should be enough). Then remove all rocks from it. Finally, rake the entire area and make garden beds. Just make sure you don’t till it too deep into the soil, and otherwise, the plant won’t be able to reach it and benefit from it.

Organic fertilizer for growing leafy vegetables

Organic, or natural, nitrogen fertilizer comes from natural sources, such as worms, cow manure, and dead plants. Natural ingredients break down slowly to nourish plants, which gives your vegetable time to absorb the nutrients properly.

Natural nitrogen fertilizer is a safer alternative to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which may cause problems with the environment if it leaches into rivers and other natural places. Though, synthetic nitrogen fertilizer releases harmful chemicals that can cause the growth of algae. Excessive algae growth could help deplete the oxygen levels in some bodies of water and the air. Organic fertilizer doesn’t encourage the growth of algae, nor does it affect the environment once you introduce it to the soil. These leafy vegetables are said to be rich in calcium. These virtuous vegetables are a marvelous source of folate. An adequate amount of folate reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Subsequently, the presence of vitamin E and vitamin C contributes to keeping your skin healthy and radiant. Consumption of green leafy vegetables is vital for good health as they are blessed with virtuous nutrients that are essential for well-being.

When you shop for organic nitrogen fertilizer, be sure to examine the main ingredients listed on the packaging before you purchase it. The list of ingredients must have the byproducts of plants, animals, and manure instead of synthetic ammonia and urea. One of the things you might do is asks an organic fertilizer supplier for a list of products and the ingredients they come with before making a final purchase. Keeping leafy green vegetable garden healthy begins with the right organic fertilizer.

Use a liquid organic fertilizer weekly to help your leafy vegetable plants grow. Follow the instructions on the label to measure out the organic fertilizer. Then, add the fertilizer to gardening can or a fertilizer sprayer. Next, spray the water onto plants to give them extra nutrients.

  • Replace regular watering with the fertilizer water.
  • You can find a liquid organic fertilizer at the local gardening store or online.

Organic pest control in growing leafy vegetables

Keep pesticides, herbicides, and inorganic fertilizers away from your leafy vegetable plants. Organic gardens don’t use any pesticides, herbicides, or inorganic fertilizers, so you’ll want to be vigilant about what you use. As this might feel like a lot of work at first, you’ll get the hang of it once you gain some experience. Trust your organic fertilizer, hand-pulling of weeds, and friendly insects to keep the garden going strong.

Bt is the shortened version of Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally-occurring bacteria that make pests sick when ingested. Spray on leafy vegetables that caterpillars eat and then Bt will kill them from the inside out. Because it’s harmful upon eating, this is an extremely safe organic pesticide for preserving beneficial insects. Spray out of direct sunlight (which will reduce its efficacy after several hours) and repeat every 7 to 10 days until no longer needed. Bt products can potentially include Genetically Modified strains, so check the packaging to verify the formula’s contents.

Growing some of the oragnic leafy vegetables

Growing organic Spinach

If you’re growing organic spinach, it grows best in the cooler weather at the beginning and end of the area’s growing season. Spinach has a deep taproot so till the soil at least 12 inches deep. Provide generous amounts of organic matter to keep the soil well-aerated. Though spinach will grow in a wide variety of soils, it performs best in rich, organic matter such as compost with the addition of alfalfa meal.

In case if you miss this: Mulching Your Garden.

Organic Spinach.
Organic Spinach.

Spinach requires full sun and regular water and planted in rich, loose soil. Before planting, work in 10 to 15 pounds of organic compost per 100 sq. ft. to a depth of 8 inches. Work the soil thoroughly, and taking care to break up any large clumps.

Cut spinach plants off at the base when the plant leaves are fully developed. Once cut, they will not come back like chard and lettuce plants.

Growing organic Fenugreek/Methi

Fenugreek or methi is a member of the Fabaceae. It has a multitude of uses including using the plant leaves fresh or dried, using the seeds whole or ground as a spice or the plant acts as effective green manure to improve the soil.

Sow fenugreek from late spring to late summer season, whenever a bed will be unused for more than eight weeks. Direct seed into your soil 4 inches apart in all directions. You can choose to soak the seeds in tap water for 12-24 hours.  Plant seeds in the soil, rich with compost material.  Seed them densely, not in rows. The seeds will germinate in 1 to 3 days and are ready to eat within just a few days if you’re looking to add nutrient-dense fenugreek micro-greens to your diet.

Growing organic Cilantro or Coriander or Dhaniya

Select well-drained, moist soil, and mix in some aged manure or compost to speed along the growing process. If you work compost into the top few inches of cilantro bed you won’t need to fertilize again as the plants grow.

When your cilantro bed is prepared, you can plant cilantro in rows that are eight inches apart. Plant your seeds half an inch deep, spaced 2 inches apart. Once the plants are about 3 inches high, you can thin them out to 6 inches apart. These cuttings can be saved and then tossed into a salad. As your plants continue to grow, prune off any flowers that form so that plants devote their energy to producing fragrant leaves.

Harvest the coriander leaves around the base of the plant.  Just make sure the plant is fairly established before you start harvesting so it will be able to handle the stress and then recover as it continues to grow.  Once the flowers have gone to seed, start to re-sow more seeds and that way you won’t run out and have a continual harvest of fresh cilantro on your hands.  

Growing organic Lettuce

This is one of the best leafy vegetables to be grown organically. Homegrown organic lettuce plant has an incredible flavor you simply have to taste to believe. Full of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, garden lettuce varieties are the perfect vegetable to incorporate into a healthy diet. Organically rich and loose garden soil is essential for growing healthy lettuce heads. Make sure to keep garden beds full of organic compost that is easy to access for the shallow roots of your lettuce plants.

To grow effectively, lettuce plant needs to be planted in garden beds filled with organic material and soil that allows for good drainage and that is full of nitrogen. A pH level between 6.0 to 6.8 is ideal. Nitrogen is essential for robust leaf growth, so feel free to amend your bed with blood meal and compost tea before planting. Fish emulsion is an ideal organic fertilizer for lettuce plants. Apply the fish emulsion at half of the recommended dosage every 2 weeks. It is best to apply the diluted fish emulsion directly to the soil.

Growing organic Mint or Pudina

Mint plant grows from underground runners and thrives on abundant water. To prepare planting sites and dig in plenty of rich organic compost. Avoid using animal manures with potential weed seeds as weeding becomes difficult in an established mint patch. If you decide to risk the invasion and plant mint in the garden, the best time to do so is in the spring. Mint isn’t too picky about its soil conditions and can thrive in pH ranging from 5.6 to 7.5. In most cases, it grows best in rich, well-drained soil that gets full sunlight throughout much of the day. Organic fertilizer can be a big help for these plants, but be sure to avoid using any type that might contain weed seeds, as weeds can quickly overtake a young mint patch.

Several garden pests are common on mint plants including aphids, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, and spider mites. Apply least-toxic, natural pesticides to prevent further damage and control. Plants are susceptible to fungal diseases, such as rust and anthracnose. Hand prune infected leaves and apply organic fungicides like copper or sulfur at the first sign.

Growing organic Dill

Dill prefers full sun and soil that is well-drained. Dill plant grows best in full sun, regular water, and rich, well-drained soil. Till to a depth of about 8 to 12 inches and work in a handful or two of organic all-purpose fertilizer. Dill plants are vigorous and will readily volunteer each year from dropped seeds.

When you’re ready to harvest, look for the dark green color leaves, otherwise known as “dill weed”.  You can harvest the leaves at any time and the young leaves tend to have better flavor.  You can harvest the flower heads after the Dill seeds have formed and all flowers have died and dried up. Tie the stems together and hang upside down.  Once dry, shake into a paper bag to collect the Dill seeds.

Growing organic Sorrel

Sorrel is a cool-season perennial grown as an annual. Sorrel is grown from root divisions. It can be grown from seed sown in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average last frost date in spring.

Sorrel can be propagated from seed started indoors under lights in late winter, and you can cut away rooted crowns from the outside of established plants and move them to a new location immediately. It is a perennial leafy green vegetable, with a lemon-like flavor.

In case if you are interested in this: Vegetable Planting Chart.

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