Now that spring has arrived in Calgary — for the most part — greenthumbs’ thoughts are turning to getting their hands dirty growing tasty tidbits and beautiful blooms in their yard and garden. Why not give Mother Nature a shout out by planting organic this season with just a few simple steps.
Before starting out, site selection for your organic garden is key. Are you utilizing current garden space? Creating a new space? Building raised beds? If produce and herbs are on your gardening mind, you’ll want to be sure the space gets at least six hours of sunshine a day. You’ll also want to make sure your soil is properly conditioned. You can test your soil with a home testing kit or have someone come and test it for you. Good gardening soil contains plenty of humus, something that occurs naturally within the ground. You can also boost your soil with compost.
Create a Compost
Composting brings more than one benefit to your home. Firstly, you’re reducing your household waste diverted to the landfill and secondly, you’re creating further humus and other nutrients for your yard and garden soil. Composters can be purchased at most home and garden retailers or you can create your own. Items from the household that can be composted include: fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, leaves, grass clippings and shrub prunings. Organically, compost is a way of fertilizing your garden without having to purchase commercial chemical fertilizers.
Location, Location, Location
Gardening in Calgary tends to prove challenging now and then thanks to Mother Nature and her sometimes wily ways. Choose the right plants for your location, which in Calgary and Southern Alberta means root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and beets; beans and peas and lettuce. Don’t be afraid to try different vegetables and fruit as well, as you never know what will happen with a little love and attention. When planting organically, grouping plants tightly can help reduce weeding and water waste — that being said, weeding is still a necessary part of gardening but can be reduced using an organic mulch.
Organic gardening doesn’t mean your pesticide free space will become a smorgasbord for plant massacring insects — beneficial species such as beneficial nematodes and ladybugs will go a long way to protecting your garden from pests. Beneficial nematodes, which naturally occur in the soil seek out and kill over 200 species of pest insects in the soil with no detrimental affect on beneficial species such as ladybugs and earthworms. Nematodes can be purchased at most home improvement stores. Ladybugs are probably the most popular of the beneficial insects, capable of consuming up to 60 aphids per day. You can let ladybugs naturally visit your garden or you can purchase them from a garden centre.