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Organic Gardening 101: 10 Tricks for Your Best Garden Ever!

Published on March 09, 2016

An outdoor patio set in the middle of an organic garden.

It’s easy to create a beautiful—and healthy—organic garden by following these no-fail tips.

Choose plants that work

1. Diversify

Your garden’s best defense against pests is to grow a wide variety of plants. These will attract a broad range of insects, both good and bad. Invite them into your garden, and then stand back and watch the good guys win.

2. Feed me, slowly

There’s no quick fix to keeping plants healthy. Many fertilizers offer nutrients at higher levels than plants can take up at once. Use lower-nutrient-level organic plant foods that release nutrients more slowly.

3. Right plant, right place

Before selecting plants, find out whether they’ll thrive in your garden. Some like sun, others prefer shade. Some tolerate clay soil while others want quick-draining sandy soil. Before heading to the nursery, do your homework and choose the perfect plants for your conditions. Evergreen’s native plant database will help you generate a plant list customized for your growing conditions and your region.

Feed the soil

4. Compost

Buy it or make your own, compost is nature’s best organic food. Spread it on garden beds in late fall or early spring to give your plants a natural boost.

5. Condition

How efficiently plant roots take up water and nutrients depends on the condition of the soil. Heavy clay can trap nutrients; sandy soils allow them to be washed away too quickly. Adding conditioners such as compost can break up heavy clay soils and help make sandy soils more absorbent. Either way, your plants win.

6. Do not disturb

There’s life underground. Beneficial micro-organisms that live and toil in the soil bond with roots, making life easier for plants. To keep this underground life intact, till your garden as little as possible. To make new beds, explore no-dig methods such as “lasagna” gardening.

5. Mulch

Organic mulches such as chopped leaves, shredded bark and composted wood chips are magic ingredients. A shallow layer spread on garden beds in early summer, locks in moisture, moderates soil temperatures and suffocates weeds. In areas with scant winter snow coverage, a deep leaf mulch applied once the ground is frozen makes a cozy blanket for plant roots.

Watch the water

8. Conserve with coir

Help retain moisture in the soils of planters, hanging baskets and other containers by mixing in super-absorbent materials such as coir, a shredded coconut fibre product. This natural soil amendment soaks up and holds onto water, reducing the need for frequent watering, which can result in wasteful run-offs.

9. Irrigate with soaker hoses

Wind perforated soaker hoses through garden beds to deliver water at ground level—where plant roots need it most. Soaker hoses allow water to trickle out at rates plants can efficiently absorb, without the danger of excess run-off.

10. Rain barrels

What could be more natural than irrigating your garden with rain water? Capture rainwater in barrels hooked up to your eaves troughs, and use it to water lawns and gardens just before the next heavy storm to collect another full barrel.

By Lorraine Flanigan

To help create greener, more sustainable cities, Evergreen fosters organic gardening practices through providing hands-on workshops, hosting planting events and supporting urban agriculture initiatives. Evergreen is grateful for Bonterra’s contribution to Evergreen’s urban agriculture and community enhancement programs across Canada. With this collaboration, we will advance the conservation of urban green space through community greening projects that connect people with nature.