Everything You Need to Know About Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is a simple and rewarding way to enjoy fresh produce while considering the environment. Learn tips and tricks on how to start your own organic garden.

Organic gardening is a great way to grow, but it may seem intimidating at first. At Miracle-Gro®, we love to inspire gardeners to try new and better ways to garden. Let us help you grow with some organic gardening basics, benefits, and how-tos.

What is Organic Gardening?

By definition, an organic garden uses only products and practices permitted by the National Organic Program and limits the types of products that may be applied to control insects, diseases, and weeds. Organic gardening may sound complicated, but it's actually a pretty simple approach to working with nature in all its wonders. Containers, in-ground or raised beds, organic gardening in your backyard means creating your own ecosystem for plants, pollinators, and beneficial insects.

What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Organic Gardening?

While traditional gardening focuses on growing strong, thriving plants, backyard organic gardeners pay equal attention to creating a superb growing environment around and under those plants, including soil, food, insects, and wildlife. And, of course, organic gardeners seek to do that in the most natural way possible.

Soil contains lots of life, including fungi, bacteria, other microbes, and small insects. These tiny organisms spend their days breaking down organic matter, helping plants absorb food and minerals from the soil, and helping the soil hold onto those elements until plants need them. To build this kind of system, organic soils use organic matter and organic nutritional sources to help these little organisms so your garden can thrive.

The Benefits of Organic Gardening

While any kind of gardening comes with benefits, here’s some reasons to consider going the organic gardening route:

  1. Soil Enrichment. Organic soils and plant foods enrich and improve the soil. While non-organic products can do this as well, using soils with organic matter helps native soil texture by increasing aeration, root spread and water infiltration. Organic matter also gives beneficial microbes in the soil extra nourishment, so they’ll continue to flourish and release nutrients to your plants.
  2. Organic Matter and Nutrient Sources. Organic matter and nutrients help your garden above and below the ground, and you can feel good about what’s going into your vegetables, fruits, and other produce. Of course, growing your own produce means it’s coming straight off the vine for the best freshness and flavor. The lower levels of pesticide residues also mean a better environment for bees for other pollinators.
  3. Space for Nature. You're creating a welcoming space not only for bees, but birds and lots of other helpful creatures. Backyard organic gardening is a wonderful way to give back to Mother Nature. The nutrient-rich soil and diverse mix of plants in your organic garden help create an ecosystem that benefits the surrounding environment.

How to Start an Organic Garden

Ready to try out an organic garden? Here’s the steps to get started:

  1. Start with the soil. The basis of an organic garden is the soil. This is especially important in organic gardens because you want to make sure your soil is made of organic material. Miracle-Gro Organic™ Raised Bed & Garden Soil is blended with quick-release natural fertilizer to feed plants quickly and slow-release fertilizer to continue feeding for up to 2 months. It’s guaranteed to grow more vegetables (vs. unfed plants; satisfaction guaranteed or your money back). The versatility of this organic soil allows it to thrive both in raised bed gardens or in-ground gardens. Plus, our competitive trial proves our soil yields amazing results. With a great soil, plants have a strong foundation that gives them the best opportunity to reach their full potential.
  2. Choose your organic plants wisely. Of course, you’ll want to make careful selections in the plants you grow in your organic garden. Choosing organic seeds and starter plants means they haven’t been treated with non-organic pesticides. Rather than pouring over an organic seed catalog, Bonnie Plants® Organics makes finding plants easy with a sizable selection of vegetable and herb plants that are certified organic. If you'd rather sprout your own seeds, be sure to look for packets labeled USDA Organic. Whether you opt for starter plants or organic seeds, choose plants that grow well together, including a mix of hybrid and heirloom plant varieties that have some inherent disease-resistant characteristics (check the labels).
  3. Feed your garden. In addition to soil and plants, your organic garden needs nutrients. Plants constantly pull nutrients from the soil, so it's your job to replenish them throughout the growing season. A month after planting, start giving your garden regular feedings of organic plant food. Always remember to check the label to find out how much and how often to feed. Our recommendation, Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics All Purpose Plant Nutrition Granules®, a continuous-release option that feeds for up to 6 weeks. Another great option is Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics All Purpose Plant Nutrition®, which can be applied weekly while you water.
  4. Give your garden plenty of light and water. First, light: your backyard organic vegetable garden needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. Second, water: most organic gardens also require at least an inch of water per week (and even more when it's hot outside).

Tips for a Thriving Organic Garden

Now that you’ve started your organic garden, there are a few steps you can take to maintain its success:

  1. Support your plants. Create a support system for climbing and vining plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans to keep them up off the damp ground. A cage or trellis around or next to the plant while it's still small is ideal. Some plants will grab onto the support on their own while others, such as tomatoes, will need twine or other material to tie stems to stakes.
  2. Use Mulch. Make use of mulch with Miracle-Gro Organic™ All Natural Mulch. Mulch can protect tender plants in cold weather and help retain moisture in the soil in dry weather, and this mulch has the added benefit of being dye free and made with sustainable wood*. When spread in a 3 inch layer, our mulch naturally prevents weeds by blocking growth and access to sunlight. Be careful not to pile it against your plant stems.
  3. Look-out for disease. Check your garden every day if you can and really look at your plants. If any leaves look spotted, measly, or sick, remove them before the ailment has a chance to spread to other foliage.
  4. Rotate crops. In organic vegetable gardening, crop rotation is key. It keeps pests guessing and the soil replenished by not planting the same type of plant in the same spot, season after season. This practice also helps the soil as different types of plants impact soil in different ways, whether taking or providing nutrients or improving soil texture or aeration.

Ready to Try Organic?

Organic gardening doesn’t have to be complicated, especially when you have Miracle-Gro® supporting you. Organic gardening is even more fun when you get your family, friends, or community involved! Whether you choose to start small with one bed or change your whole approach to gardening, an organic garden offers the opportunity to grow in exciting new ways.

*Recycled green waste inputs, including diverted scrap goods from lumber processes

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