Making Better Decisions: Organic Gardening
Making Better Decisions: Organic Gardening
Now that spring is here, we are getting excited about planting our annual garden. We started our seeds inside a few weeks ago and they are starting to sprout already. We can’t wait to get them in the garden outside. The kids love to watch the progress of our fruits and veggies growing (plus they love to play in dirt, typical kids!) and I love saving money on our summer groceries by growing a lot of food for us to eat!
As we continue to make better decisions for our family’s health, we have shifted a lot of our food purchases to organic ones. Organic produce means fewer pesticides and the kids are happy with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies to snack on.
Where Does Your Garden Grow Organic?
- Indoor vs. outdoor: The location of your garden can change the types of plants you grow. Indoor spaces can grow plants that need a warmer environment since the soil won’t freeze. Check your seed packets or starter plants for temperature recommendations to determine where your plants will grow best. An indoor garden will need to be near a window or you’ll need a sun lamp.
- Space available: If you are gardening in containers, research if your plant will need repotted as it grows and make sure you have the space for the maximum size container required. If space is limited, try starting out with a small herb windowbox to get the hang of your green thumb!
- Effort required: Some plants are a lot easier to take care of than others. Some easy starter plants include green beans, snap peas, lettuce, squashes, and herbs (be careful of mint - it will spread like wildfire). A little internet research can help you pick kid-friendly plants that are more likely to make it to harvest time!
- Soil: For organic gardening, you can find organic soil and compost instead of using conventionally-treated soil mixes. This is also a great opportunity to teach your kids about composting and how fruit and veggie scraps can turn into new compost for your garden after a few months!
What Does Your Garden Grow Organic?
- Space available: If you have a sprawling back yard with tons of room, you can pick almost any veggie or fruit as long as it will grow in your climate! With smaller spaces, you need to be discerning and pick plants to grow that will thrive in the space available. You could also create a DIY vertical garden or buy a Tower Garden to allow more variety of plants in a smaller space.
- Sun and water: Some plants need partial shade, some need as much sun as possible. Likewise, some plants need more or less water than others. Your plant choices might depend on how sunny your garden is or how much watering you can do.
- Time to harvest: Different plants grow at different rates and are ready to harvest throughout the summer and fall. If you are starting from seeds or from pre-potted plant starters your time to harvest will be different. Keep this timeline in mind when you’re picking which plants to grow in your garden. To keep the project kid-friendly, you can provide options of fruits and veggies that can work with your garden and allow the kids to pick their favorite choices!
- Non-GMO and organic plants: If organic is important to you like it is to me, choose USDA certified organic seeds for your garden. You also want to look for non-GMO seed options, especially if you are planting common GMO plants like corn, soybeans, beets, zucchini, or yellow squash.
How Does Your Garden Grow Organic?
- Maintenance: Weeding and controlling pests in your garden can be hard work. But you can cut down on a lot of maintenance needs with savvy co-planting strategies that naturally stifle pests and weeds from assaulting your garden!
- Timing: Not all plants need to start at the same time! When you are selecting plants, pay attention to how long they need to grow, and use the timeline to your advantage to plant a few items at a time if you are a beginner. This will give you time to get the hang of your routine before adding more plants to the mix. And it will keep the kids interested throughout the planting season!
- Natural remedies: If you get fungus, blight, or bugs, most of the common strategies are chemical and not organic in nature. You can make some DIY natural remedies to keep the integrity of your organic commitment! Not all bugs are damaging to your garden (some are actually helping you!) so don’t panic if you see some bugs. Check out these Earth-friendly remedies to get started.
- Recipes for harvest: If you are blessed with an over-abundance of fruits and veggies, don’t let it go to waste! Berries can be washed and frozen, tomatoes are easily made and canned as pasta sauce or salsa, and zucchini is easy to shred and freeze for later use in baking or adding to recipes as a “sneaky” veggie addition.
My kids are so excited to get our sprouts into the ground so they can see them grow! Are you planning to grow a garden this year? What fruit or vegetable are your kids most excited to try?