Growing Vegetables Organically in the Backyard

Introduction to growing vegetables organically in the backyard

Growing vegetables organically means your family can enjoy healthy, tasty, fresh vegetables produce free of synthetic chemicals or pesticides. Growing organic vegetables in the backyard is a great way to ensure you have healthy foods for your favorite recipes. When you grow organic veggies, you won’t be able to treat them with chemicals or herbicides, so you’ll need to be more mindful of pests and diseases.

A guide to growing vegetables organically in the backyard

If you want to start an organic vegetable garden, choose a suitable spot in your yard where you can dig a plot, build a raised bed, or set up planting containers.

Benefits of growing vegetables organically in the backyard garden

  • Easy access to fresh produce
  • Improved taste due to vegetable freshness and lack of chemicals
  • Save money
  • Improved nutrition
  • Avoid pesticide residue
  • Reduce exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Does not harm the water table
  • Kinder to the environment
  • Improves biodiversity

Start with organic garden soil and mulch

In order to get the best results with your new organic vegetable garden, you’ll want to make sure the soil is properly conditioned. You have to eat, and so do plants, so make sure veggies get lots of fresh nutrients. For a healthy organic vegetable garden, you want to start with healthy soil. The important component in the soil is the organic matter, such as manure, peat moss, or compost, which is the best option because it contains decayed microorganisms of previous plant life. Those microorganisms supply vegetable plants the nutrients they need. You can make your own compost pile by designating an area or bin where the organic matter will decompose. Or you can buy it in bulk if you have a large garden, or use bagged compost obtainable at garden centers and home improvement stores.

Backyard vegetable gardening.
Backyard vegetable gardening.

Reduce weeds by spreading about a 1 to 2-inch-thick layer of mulch on the soil. It makes a barrier that prevents weeds from getting sunlight and from germinating. This mulch layer prevents fungal disease spores from drifting onto plant leaves. Use organic material such as cocoa hulls, weed-free straw, and newspaper as mulch so as it decomposes it adds beneficial organic matter to the soil. As plants might be able to survive in poor soil, all plants will grow better and be more productive with rich garden soil containing lots of organic matter. Do yourself a favor, and take the time to work lots of compost and other organic materials into a garden bed before you plant anything.

Choose the right spot for growing vegetables organically in the backyard

Organic vegetable gardening involves the use of companion planting for natural pest control and to help increase crop yield. Select a sunny location for organic vegetable garden a spot that gets eight hours of sun a day if possible. Most vegetables need plenty of light and heat to photosynthesize.

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The right spot for growing vegetables.
The right spot for growing vegetables.
  • Ideally, you need a level, well-draining site for an organic vegetable garden, protected from the wind by hedging, a windbreak or walls;
  • Consider the practicalities of access to water, tools, compost, maintenance, and crop harvesting;
  • If it is easy to regularly pop out and check on the plants, or quickly harvest something to add to your meals, it will be a practical and useful addition to the organic garden;
  • Be realistic how much you can manage and the amount of produce you will eat;
  • It’s best to start small so you don’t get disheartened and give up;
  • You can produce a lot of food in a small raised bed or pots.

Get quality seeds for growing vegetables organically in your backyard 

Get organic vegetable seeds from a farmers market, gardening store, or online. Carefully check the label on the seeds to make sure it says organic. Then, this means the seeds came from organic plants that were grown without pesticides, herbicides, and non-organic fertilizers. If you’re unsure about your seed selection, ask the person who’s selling them if they’re organic.

Organic vegetable plants can be difficult to find locally in some areas. Many nurseries use fertilizers and pesticides, so be sure to ask. You’ll want to start with organically-grown plants and seeds. Conventionally-grown plants are already loaded with pesticides and chemical fertilizers exactly the types of things you’re trying to avoid in your vegetable garden. Organically-produced seeds are harvested from organically-grown vegetable plants, never treated with chemical pesticides or fungicides, and never genetically modified. There are several good mail order companies that provide organic vegetable seeds. More nurseries, garden centers, and big box stores are also starting to sell a selection of organic vegetable seeds these are clearly labeled as “organic.”

Always ensure you are purchasing certified organic vegetable seeds or starter plants that were raised without the use of pesticides or chemicals. Local farmer’s markets can be a great source of organic seeds and starter plants for your vegetable garden.

Choose the right plants for your conditions

Before you plant anything in the garden, do some research to find out which types of vegetables and which varieties are most likely to do well in your growing conditions. You’ll want to take growing zones into consideration, as well as the amount of sunlight and rainfall garden will receive. Local farmer’s markets, other gardeners, and staff at local garden centers can give you some insight into which specific varieties typically do well in your area. Strong, sturdy plants that are well-suited for specific growing conditions will require much less watering and babying over the growing season, so it’s well worth spending the time to pick your plants wisely.

Make your own organic compost and mulch

One of the best things you can do for a vegetable garden is to supply it with lots of organic matter. Compost will help the soil retain moisture, provides a source of nutrients to the plants and the worms and microbes that help improve the soil. It is easy to make your own garden compost by piling up a mixture of leaves and garden clippings, grass clippings, and other organic household waste such as eggshells and coffee grounds.

Planting organic crops in the backyard

If you want the highest returns of organic vegetable production with limited space and time, these plants are typically winners;

  1. Indeterminate tomatoes – Because the vines keep getting bigger and producing new fruit until frost.
  2. Non-hybrid (old-fashioned) pole beans – They keep growing and also producing ’til frost assuming you keep them picked.
  3. Zucchini – Everything they say avalanches of zucchini is true, particularly of hybrid varieties.
  4. Swiss chard – You can keep breaking off outer plant leaves for months, and every picking will be tender as long as plants get enough water.
  5. Tall snow peas and sugar snaps – They grow readily and then produce delicious rewards.

Steps to growing organic vegetables in your backyard

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Steps to growing organic vegetables.
Steps to growing organic vegetables.

Step 1) The first step to growing organic vegetables in your backyard is to plan where you will be growing backyard vegetables. While some vegetables tolerate partly shady conditions, the majority of them will require full sun. You will need to do your research in order to make sure your organic vegetables are appropriate for your region.

Step 2) Once you have determined the best area in your backyard for homegrown organic produce, the second step is to prepare the soil. The ideal soil conditions will be deep, have good drainage, and fertile. You will need at least 1 to 2 feet of good soil in order for your roots to grow properly. In order to tell if you have good drainage, watch your soil after it rains. It should not sit there for more than a day.

Step 3) The third step in growing organic vegetables is to plant your organic seeds or plants that are appropriate for your region. You need to be aware you are planting seeds at the proper time of year. Organic seed companies put information on the back of the seed packet. Choose seeds and plants wisely. You want to make sure these are foods you eat and don’t take up more space than you have. Growing organic means you get to harvest delicious produce and have peace of mind knowing your health and not spending loads of money for it at the store.

Step 4) The last step in maintaining homegrown organic backyard vegetables is to make sure your plants are healthy and free of pests. Since you are growing organic method, you will not be able to use most of the products on the market for getting rid of pests and disease. If you do happen to see a pest, there are many organic methods you can use to get rid of them. In case your backyard vegetables suffer from a disease such as powdery mildew, you can rinse the plant leaves in the middle of the day several times each week with your garden hose.

Use an organic garden fertilizer for your backyard vegetables

Fertilizing your vegetable plants will help them grow faster and yield larger crops. Different types of organic fertilizer include well-rotted manure from plant-eating critters (rabbits, horses, sheep, chickens), prepackaged organic fertilizer bought online, or at the local garden center. You can find a variety of organic fertilizers at garden centers and home improvement stores. Organic fertilizers give the best nutrients and minerals for a healthy garden because they are naturally occurring.

What are the best organic fertilizers we can use for vegetables?

Compost – Compost is by far the widely used fertilizer and soil amendment in vegetable gardens. Compost is easily made from all types of things from around the home, but mostly from yard refuge and vegetable peelings from the kitchen. It is worked into the soil before planting and added as a side dressing after the plants have become established. Compost adds beneficial microorganisms, greatly improves soil health and also increases earthworm activity in your soil.

Compost Teas – Compost teas are made from steeping compost and the liquid left from the steeping process is strained and then used to water plants. Compost tea can offer vegetable plants a super-charged drink of essential nutrients and minerals.

Herbivore Manures – Manures from animals such as grass-fed cows, horses, rabbits, and chickens make great fertilizers. Never use manure from animals such as dogs or cats, or manures from humans. Normally, manures are mixed with hay, straws, or alfalfa and set out to compost before using. You should always let manure compost for a minimum of 9 months before applying it to the vegetable garden. Using fresh manure can burn vegetable plants and cause quite a stink.

Fish and Seaweed Emulsions – Fish and seaweed fertilizers are a great way to easily improve soil nutrients and provide plants a good feeding. These organic fertilizers come in a liquid form and are mixed with water, then used to water vegetable plants where nutrients are taken in through the leaves. Using compost in combination with a fish or seaweed fertilizer is a great method to take on a two-pronged attack of organic fertilization.

Vermicomposting – Vermicomposting is the farming of worms in order to collect castings to use as a fertilizer or top dressing. You can purchase worm castings and earthworm cocoons to place in raised beds or large containers. The cocoons will hatch earthworms introducing these soil soldiers to the vegetable garden.

Best time to water your vegetable plants

The best time to water plants is usually in the morning time. Because, mornings tend to be cool with fewer winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. If you water in the evening, vegetable plants stay damp overnight, making them more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases. Ideally, you want to water the plant roots, not the greenery, which is easily damaged. A drip or soak system can work great, or just carefully water the bases of vegetable plants by hand.

Most experts recommend substantial, infrequent watering for established plants, normally a total of about one inch of water per week (including rain). One or two applications a week encourages deeper rooting, which promotes stronger vegetable plants.

Use raised beds to extend the growing season for growing vegetables organically in the backyard

Building raised beds is a great way to provide vegetables with rich organic soil to grow and can extend the growing season significantly. The soil in raised beds will warm up earlier in the spring, and certainly, make it easier to weed and harvest than bending down to the ground. Just be careful not to use any chemically treated wood such as pressure-treated wood to build the sides of the raised bed.

Protecting vegetable plants without pesticides

If your vegetable garden is being affected by pests, it can be a sign of other problems, so the first thing you should do is make sure plants are getting enough light, nutrients, and moisture. Also, remember that a diverse vegetable garden helps prevent pests by limiting the amount of one type of plant offered up to enemies.

It’s a good thing to foster natural predators in the garden, such as frogs, toads, lizards, birds, and even bats. Beneficial insects can be your best friends, particularly ladybugs. Many nurseries and garden centers even sell cans of them, though it’s true there’s a high probability they won’t stick around. Then, leave a small source of water out to attract friendly predators. It is a good idea to grow plants with small blossoms, such as sweet alyssum and dill, which attract predatory insects. Nets and row covers can work.

Some organic weapons contain Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring bacterium that disrupts the digestion of caterpillars and other leaf-eaters. You can also use horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, garlic, and hot pepper sprays.

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