Planning the Organic Garden

In this video, green gardening expert Tim MacWelch explains organic gardening basics and how to plan your organic garden.

A philosophy

So let’s start by looking at a definition of what we’re doing. At its very minimum, an organic garden is a garden that is created andmaintained without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. This definition doesn’t allow for all the other considerations that are essential to organic gardening. It’s not just about replacing artificial chemicals with something that comes from natural sources. What organic gardening really is, is a philosophy of gardening: it’s gardening that supports the ongoing health of an entire ecosystem. If you have an organic yard and garden, what you’re thinking about all the time is cultivating and maintaining an ecosystem that does more than just make plants grow: it sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes and beneficial insects.


When do you plant?

So there are a whole lot of considerations that would go into planning any garden, but are even more important when planning a sustainable healthy ecosystem that’s what we do with organic gardening. When will you put in your plants? MacWelch suggests that you refer to whatever weather zone you live in; these charts are easy to come by, and they indicate the timing fort he last frosts of the season. You’re fine to plant after that.

Where do you plant?

Location is as important as timing. You want to consider not just the space, but the soil that’s in that space. Look for two things: the best soil, and the best sunlight.


Soil first: Look for the best soil on your property. The ideal soil is loam (which comprises sand, silt, organic matter, nutrients, and air). Make sure that you aerate the soil well and that you put earthworms in if they’re not there already: they’re excellent at keeping the soil aerated.

Where do you place the beds? Your plants need 12 hours or more of direct sunlight every single day for the best growth. You should place your beds north to south, because that gives them the best and longest exposure to the sun as it rises in the east, moves overhead, and then sets in the west, giving sunlight the whole time. This also keeps plants from being in their own shadows.

image3Look to the future

Always rotate your plants. Rotate as often as every other year if you can manage it. Why? Because if you plant the same plants in the same place year after year, you’ll be draining the soil of its nutrients. If you rotate, it will save you work and will keep the soil healthy for the next crop in the future.

And don’t put too many similar varieties too closely together. Again, plant with forethought. Bugs and wildlife will thank you for a lot of something they like in one place. Break it up with onions or garlic, which many insects abhor, so that they don’t have a whole smorgasbord to consider.