Maintaining a Healthy Edible Garden Organically
Most of us have our edible garden planted and anxiously await mother nature to do her thing; however, maintenance is an integral part to a healthy edible garden.
Many view maintaining a garden as work, but I don’t – and if you are reading this, you probably don’t either.
Numerous studies have shown that gardening is good physical and mental exercise.
Container gardening is growing in popularity because you can grow practically anything, anywhere.
You can control your potted plant’s environment far more easily than you can with plants tucked into the ground; however, my tips are conducive for both container gardening and plot gardening.
Watering and Mulching Your Edible Garden
When I was a child, my family never mulched our ½ acre garden and today, I do not mulch my container garden.
Regardless, mulching is an effective way to counteract evaporation.
Straw can deter slugs by keeping plant leaves elevated off the soil; however, I have never found it to be a necessity.
Despite that, vigilance about watering is vital when growing plants in containers.
Because only a limited amount of moisture can be stored in a container, you must monitor the weather and water your plants as necessary.
How do I monitor if my edibles need water?
I push my index finger down into the soil of the plant, up to my knuckles. If the soil feels damp at the end of my finger, the plant is fine and does not need water; however, if the soil is dry and dusty – the plant needs water immediately.
Early morning or just before sunset are the best times to water. Plants can be damaged by watering in the hot sun.
Also, avoid getting water on the leaves of the plant, as water droplets act like a magnifying glass and can burn the leaves.
How can I tell if I have watered enough?
You know you have watered enough when excess water comes out of the drainage holes, that I hope you have.
The amount of water needed will depend on the location and type of edible.
If it has been 90º+ degrees and your plants are in full sun, chances are, they need some water each day, or at least every other day.
We are currently going through a heat wave – temps above 90 degrees and we have not seen rain in 20 days – therefore, we are watering most of our edibles every day.
Sun exposure is another consideration – our tomatoes are getting 12 hours of sunlight every day.
Use your watering time as a quiet, meditation time – some mental relaxation.
Pesky Pests in Your Edible Garden
For my edibles, I NEVER use a commercial pesticide, I make my own insecticidal soap.
2 Tablespoons liquid hand dish-washing detergent
2 cups cool tap water
Shake up until combined
Gently spray on the underneath side of leaves and directly onto the soil.
Repeat, if necessary
Unfortunately, insecticidal soaps only works when in direct contact with the pests; however, because it has a low toxicity, it is safe if you have pets or children.
Just make sure, like with any edible harvest, you wash it thoroughly before eating.
Aphids are the worst pests for gardeners. They attack a wide range of edibles, especially tomatoes. However, birds love to eat aphids. If you have a container garden on your patio, like I do, try strategically placing a bird feeder nearby.
Spiders also eat aphids. Each of my container basil plants have large spider web behind them. Spiders will not eat my basil. I believe it is the spiders keeping aphids off my basil.
Dealing with Weeds
Weeds are just a natural byproduct of gardening, however, under no circumstances do I use a commercial weedkiller – not in my container garden, nor in my ½ acre plot garden.
Glyphosate is the main ingredient in some of these products and most widen known to be the main chemical in Round-Up.
Glyphosate is a carcinogenic and should be avoided if at all possible.
Recent tests have found shockingly high levels of Glyphosate in many foods in our supermarkets.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Democrat-Connecticut) has introduced legislation that would force the government to immediately begin testing our food for Glyphosate residues and ban dangerous practices leading to Glyphosate contamination. (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE)
For my containers, I just manually pull the weeds. In my larger garden, I use a hoe and go over a section every couple of days.
Recipe for Homemade Round-Up
Renee, one of my loyal subscribers, says it really works:
Mix 1 gallon of white vinegar
1 cup of table salt
1 Tablespoon of liquid dish detergent
Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spray directly on the weeds.
It is possible to maintain your edible garden organically.
- Be vigilant with water – but do not over water
- Avoid mulching your edibles
- Use homemade insecticides and pesticides
- Use your garden as your meditation time.
Once you have harvested some delicious edibles, click here to learn how to preserve and freeze them for winter.