This post on maintaining an organic garden is sponsored by Home Depot but all opinions expressed are my own.
Here in Georgia, our summer planting season starts around mid to late April so we have a fairly long growing season. In fact, we have multiple growing seasons here in the Atlanta area. Cool weather plants can be planted in February, summer plants go in around late April and then we can also plant in late August for a fall crop. Needless to say, I find myself quite busy maintaining an organic garden for 6 to 8 months every year. I have learned a few tips over the years, although I am far from an expert. I tend to be a really great planter but only a so-so harvester! There are a lot of factors involved in maintaining an organic garden and sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t cooperate. Over the last month I have shared a few tips with you on how and why you should plant an organic garden so I thought I would give you a brief update on the garden’s progress.
Over the last month or so I have been cleaning up old beds, building new ones, and planning where everything is going to go. I ordered several organic plants from Home Depot that included many varieties of herbs, tomatoes and peppers. These plants were put into a combination of organic garden soil, mushroom compost and manure. My beds consist of everything from prefabricated raised beds made from cedar wood to old whiskey barrels and even a bed made from cinder blocks. Plants aren’t picky…as long as they have soil, water and sunlight they will grow! Everything else is just aesthetic.
I was really impressed with the quality of the plants that were shipped to me from The Home Depot. I have never ordered live plants online before and wasn’t sure what to expect. They arrived with the soil still damp, a small stake in each pot to keep them upright and a plastic bag around each plant. Plenty of packing material inside gave it a nice amount of cushioning and after unpacking I let them adjust to our local climate by leaving them in the driveway in a partially sunny spot for 2 days before planting.
After the plants were acclimated a bit, I took everything out to the back yard for planting. Since my beds were already prepared all I needed was a small trowel to dig the holes for planting my organic garden. I tried to make sure the tallest plants (typically the tomatoes) were in the back of the bed and the shorter plants like the herbs and peppers were in the front. Some of the plants I purchased from The Home Depot are actually perennial here in Georgia, meaning they will come back year after year. I prefer those to be in my landscaping rather than a garden bed that will be tilled up every year. So, the chives and mint were placed along my rock wall to act as both food AND decor! I love decorating my landscaping with edible plants!
Maintaining Your Organic Garden
After everything in my organic garden was planted and watered I was pretty much done for the day. However, maintaining an organic garden is something you need to remember to do several times a week. Here is a basic guideline for maintaining your organic garden once the plants are already in the ground:
1. Visually inspect your plants often: Are they dropping leaves? Do you see evidence of bugs? There is no real need to pluck off dead leaves but if you see bugs on your plants pick them off by hand if possible and drop them in a bowl of soapy water. For large scale infestations, choose an organic insecticide like Neem Oil. Thankfully the bugs haven’t found my organic garden YET!
2. Check the soil moisture: Different plants like a different amount of water but a general guideline is to water every 3 days or so. Water directly at the roots and make sure to really soak the soil well. Give the soil some time to dry out a little bit before watering again so you do not end up with rotten plant roots.
3. Fertilize as needed: Typically if you plant in a well nourished soil you should not have to feed your plants for the first 6 weeks or so. I like to plant in soil that has been tilled with compost and manure and then use an organic fertilizer when they are reaching full size and starting to produce flowers and food.
4. Harvest regularly: If you are going to put all that effort into growing your own organic garden it is wasteful to let your food rot on the vine! Take a basket outside with you daily and pick whatever is ripe. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough for a meal! I tend to put together ‘vegetable trays’ with 12 string beans, 8 cherry tomatoes, 1 pepper, etc. This allows me to create something edible out of bits and pieces of my garden’s harvest. Herbs can be harvested just about every day for use in cooking without damaging the plants. One of my favorite ways to use fresh basil is to make Caprese on a stick:
Since my tomato plants aren’t producing fruit yet I had to buy organic ones from the grocery store but I love that I can pick just a few herbs whenever I need them to add to my recipes. Fresh herbs are incredibly expensive at the grocery store and it is much more convenient to have them growing in the back yard.
So far I am very happy with the organic garden plants I received from The Home Depot and they are really thriving in my backyard. We have had a very wet and cool spring and I have already lost a few of my other garden plants to root rot but the Bonnie Organic plants I put in seem to be lush and green and really doing very well. If you would like more information on my organic garden, check out the video I put together with a brief chat about how the process went. Stop by in a couple weeks for another update on how the organic garden is doing as the weather starts to heat up!
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot.