By Liz Baessler
Organic gardening is an awesome way to ensure you get healthy, wholesome produce that you know is chemical free. It’s rewarding, but sometimes it’s tricky. When you’re avoiding chemicals, pests and disease can be a real problem. There are some very effective organic sprays and soaps available, but sometimes the best cure is good old-fashioned prevention. Here are our top 7 tips for organic gardening success.
1. Rotation – A lot of the time disease and pests focus on a single type of plant – think squash bugs. It’s not uncommon for them to overwinter in the soil, waiting for another summer’s worth of food. You can thwart them with almost no effort by simply planting a different plant in that space next year.
2. Space – Another often overlooked disease fighter is space. Putting your plants too close together encourages moisture and close contact, two key culprits in letting bacteria and bugs breed and spread. Though it may be tempting to get more bang for your buck by squeezing them tightly together, giving your plants ample air circulation will keep them much healthier.
3. No overhead watering – This is the same idea as giving your plants their space. If you water from above, you get all the leaves and stems wet, making a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty stuff. Water at the base of the plant, preferably with a drip system, to make sure the water just gets to the roots where it’s needed.
4. Mulch – Mulch slows the evaporation process, cutting down on the need to water and the likelihood of your plant getting too damp. It also protects the plant from heat and drought stress.
5. Companion planting – While you’re plotting out your garden to make sure nothing’s in the same spot it was last year, take some time to put plants next to their beneficial neighbors. Some plants just do well together, providing nutrients and deterring pests. Marigolds, in particular, are fantastic bug repellers and will work wonders scattered throughout your garden.
6. Compost – Especially if you’re avoiding commercial fertilizers, compost is essential. You can make it yourself easily, and it’s another good way to know exactly what’s going into your plants.
7. Beneficial insects – Remember, not all bugs are bad! A good organic way to get rid of bugs is to introduce or encourage their natural predators, like ladybugs for aphids. It doesn’t stop with bugs, either. Attracting bug-eating birds will solve your pest problem and add some life to your garden all in one fell swoop.