How to Start an Organic Garden

Creating an organic garden isn't as difficult as you may think. All it takes is selecting the right location, building a few raised beds and prepping the soil for planting. And with ongoing care and maintenance, you're well on your way to a healthy, functional organic garden. 
 
Learn how to start an organic garden with this step-by-step guide:

Decide on the Best Location. Plants need sunshine to grow and thrive, so pick a south-facing garden site that gets at least 7 hours of sunlight a day. Itʼs also important to choose a level area thatʼs away from the roots of any large trees and where plants are protected from the wind. Before you decide where to place the garden, check the conditions in several potential locations at different times of day to find the best possible spot.
 
Build Raised Planting Beds. Building raised beds is the easiest way to start a new organic garden with uncontaminated soil and good drainage. You can purchase prefabricated bed kits or create your own frames using wood, cement blocks or stone. The ideal frame height is 12 to 16 inches to allow ample room for plant root growth. You can build a raised bed in any length, but it should be no more than 4 feet wide to make tending the garden trouble-free. If youʼre building multiple beds, be sure to leave a 2-foot walkway in between.
 
Prepare the Soil. A successful garden needs well-aerated soil with lots of nutrient-rich organic material. To achieve this, fill each bed with a mixture of screened topsoil, peat moss and good quality compost. Rake out any clumps, then round the soil so it forms a gentle arc toward the bed edges to maximize growing space.
 
Plant Only Organic Seedlings. To find plant varieties that are ideally suited to your specific climate and region, visit local nurseries that offer organically grown seedlings and ask for advice on planting. If youʼd like to grow your own seedlings next year, plan your garden during the winter months, order organic seeds and follow the directions for starting them indoors in the early spring.
 
Water Wisely. Itʼs best to water the garden in the cooler mornings to minimize evaporation. Always water at ground level to avoid soaking the stems and leaves, as this encourages disease and pests. You can water by hand, or install soaker or drip irrigation hoses. A deep watering twice a week is usually sufficient for established plants.
 
Control Weeds and Pests Naturally. To discourage weed growth, top the soil with a thick layer of organic mulch like dry grass clippings, straw, shredded bark or fallen leaves. Check the beds weekly and pull any stray weeds as soon as they emerge. You can avoid using pesticides in the garden by researching companion plants that attract natural predators like beneficial insects, toads and birds to keep harmful pests and their larvae under control.