Billy shares his secrets for success including selecting the site, preparing the soil, planting, growing, and maintaining your own organic garden! Billy's Organic Gardening Guide is a step-by-step recipe for success, all by using our 100 percent organic garden fertilizer and other non-toxic products!
Container, raised beds, or ground gardens can help supplement food cost and gardening is a great hobby for the whole family!
This document from the Master Grower Billy Styles teaches you everything you need to know to grow delicious, healthy organic vegetables. It incorporated a lifetime of growing and gardening experience into a precise guide. Remember, organic growing puts you in control of what is on and in your fruits and vegetables!
Billy shares his secrets for success including:
- Selecting and maintaining a garden site
- Planning the garden
- Soil conditioning and fertilization
- Insect and disease control
- Weed control and mulching
SELECTING A GARDEN SITE
There are five important factors to consider in selecting a garden site.
- Sunlight: All vegetables need sunlight. The garden should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Eight to 10 hours is ideal. Avoid planting taller plants where they shade out small plants. When possible, vegetables should be placed away from the shade of buildings, trees, and shrubs, unless it is late afternoon when plants have reached their sunlight needs. Shade at the right time can reduce heat stress.
- Proximity to the house: The closer the garden and the easier it is to reach, the more you will probably maintain and utilize it. A great example is the Victory Garden. Families planted Victory Gardens during WWII to help supplement the US food supply and ensure the health of the nation. Check out our Victory Garden Video on our website at http://www.peopleschoiceorganics.com.
- Soil: The soil should be fertile, easy to till by hand (loose at least two feet deep for best results) and drain well. This will ensure the soil has plenty of access to oxygen, nutrients, and water. If the soil remains soggy after a rain, rework the soil structure with humus compost (completely decomposed compost) adding some Amazon Soil for long-term soil structure. Here is one of my gardening secrets: Never use peat moss! It destroys soil PH and does nothing for soil health or soil moisture balance. It is very hard to hydrate with peat moss and it can cause water runoff. Applying Growzilla, our organic garden fertilizer and conditioner that contains ital microbes can also help to improve soil biostructure. Do not mix in too many leaves or compost material in the sub soil or root zone, as decomposition of these materials can take away vital nutrients from your plants. And remember, once planted, do not till or disrupt the root zones of the soil.
Watering: Including rain and irrigation, a garden needs at least one inch of water per week at soil level. Avoid locating your garden where water naturally collects on your property or receives too much irrigation.
TIP: When you do water, do not spray water over the top of plants. Water covering the entire plant can cause and promote plant burning and disease.
- Air Flow/circulation: Avoid locating the garden in low-lying areas. These areas are slow to warm in the spring and a late frost can form more easily. Cold air dissipates slower from low-lying areas. Vegetable gardens located on high ground are more likely to escape light freezes, permitting an earlier start in the spring growing season and a longer harvesting season in the fall.
PLANNING THE GARDEN
First, decide on the type of garden you want and have room to plant. The basic types of gardens include:
- Raised bed
- Ground gardens
Most importantly, the type and size of the garden will depend on your space available and the size of the garden you can successfully manage throughout the year.
Next, draw a diagram of the garden site. The diagram should show the kind of vegetables you plan on growing, the distance between rows and how much room they need when mature.
Carefully select the vegetables you want to enjoy throughout the summer and fall. Determine when each type of vegetable needs to be planted. Remember, certain vegetables may not be suitable for your garden because of the space limitation, improper climate, or unusually poor growing conditions. Please consult a planting guide for each vegetable you choose in order to ensure successful growing.
Some variations of plants do better in the spring and summer gardens if they are started indoors in seed trays until they are large enough to transplant into the garden. Depending on your limitation, it may be easier to purchase seedlings from a local grower. However, some plants do better being planted by a seed directly. When doing so, remember to pre soak your seeds before you plant them in seed trays or directly into the soil. Depending on the seed size and variety, 24 to 48 hours of soaking is adequate. When planting seed directly into the soil, it’s important to install a scarecrow or other bird deterrent to protect your new crop.
Remember, you can plant multiple gardens each year! You can plant a spring garden, a second harvest garden, and a fall garden. Clean up and reconstitute the garden area in between plantings. And remember that timing counts! Be timely based the suggested planting window of the plant to ensure success.
Have you ever looked at the ingredients in a bag of chemical fertilizer or pesticide approved for garden vegetables? Scary stuff!
These toxic chemicals are absorbed into your fruit and vegetables as they grow. Ultimately, when we consume them, they are absorbed into our bodies as well! We eat what our plants eat! Imagine what a lifetime of eating produce that is grown using these chemicals can do to your body?
Luckily, People’s Choice Organics has an environmentally friendly, organic garden fertilizer that promotes sustainable growth and nutritional value in your garden vegetables.
When you till or turn the soil, add Amazon Soil at the recommended rate per square foot. Amazon Soil is an all-natural soil amendment that will increase soil biology, promote deeper root systems, ease soil compaction, and reduce watering by up to 75 percent. If your garden is already planted, apply Amazon Soil to the surface and work in lightly. Do this at recommended rates as needed for healthier soil structure and it will literally provide ongoing benefits that will last a lifetime.
Apply Growzilla at recommended rates monthly throughout the growing season. Application rates may vary depending on the stress level of the plant, ie, fruiting or drought. Growzilla is a 100 percent organic garden fertilizer and it is non-toxic. It is an all-purpose plant super-food, fertilizer, and soil conditioner all in one that your vegetable garden is going to love! The formulation of humic and fulvic acids, sea kelp, sea minerals, amino acids, macro/micronutrients, complex bio char, and beneficial fungus creates a rich, sustainable growing environment that gives your plants everything they need for healthy, vibrant growth.
Fertilize regularly at recommended rates with Clear 90 2-0-3, our all natural lawn and garden fertilizer. It was designed for use on all fruits and vegetables to promote healthy growth. Clear 90 2-0-3 is a blend of deep ocean water minerals that create a supercharged organic fertilizer that promotes sustainable growth, and it’s friendly to the environment!
Compositing is a way of recycling organic waste materials you would ordinarily discard. When these materials are placed into a compost pile or bin with soil, water, and other materials, they decay into rich humus over time. You can work the humus into your garden to improve its soil structure, texture, aeration, and increases the soil’s water holding capacity.
The organic materials most often composted are leaves, grass clippings, plant parts, and food scraps. Do not include meat scraps, bones, or droppings from animals. They can attract rodents and other wildlife and cause bad bacteria. Stick with vegetable food left overs and yard waste only. Avoid all pesticides and/or herbicide treated materials.
You can start a compost pile or purchase a “composter” from a local gardening store.
The size of organic materials affects the rate of decay. Smaller particles decompose faster than larger when coupled with proper nutrition, aeration, and moisture. Turn your compost pile as often as you can. Each time you turn it, it will speed up the process. Keep the compost damp but not wet. If it smells rotten, then it’s too wet. During the summertime, your pile may dry out causing the composting process to slow down. Don’t be afraid to apply more moisture if necessary.
The finished compost should be ready in less than four to six months, depending on how well the microbial activity and temperatures are sustained. To speed up the composting process, spray with Growzilla once a month as you turn the pile.
Do not over-apply composting to any planted areas. Healthier soil structures are firm and airy. Think like a block of Swiss cheese or a firm dry sponge. Air and water goes in and out so the soil does not remain soggy. Do not apply more than one inch at a time around plants.
Insect & Disease Control
One of the best ways to control pests in your garden is by planting a wide variety of flowering plants that attract beneficial insects. Some examples include perennial yarrow, milkweed, thyme, and fennel. They attract ladybugs that consume massive amounts of aphids. Additional controls include other beneficial plants that products odors that are natural repellents for insects. Examples include lemongrass, marigolds, rosemary, and spearmint. The relationship between fruit and vegetable plants and other plants that attract/repel certain insects is known as “companion planting.” It’s by far the safest, natural way to garden organically.
Other ways to keep pests and disease at bay are:
- Purchasing insect and disease resistant vegetable varieties
- Rotating vegetables annually
- Practicing good garden sanitation (keep excess weeds and grasses out)
- Inspecting your plants carefully at purchase to ensure they are insect and disease free. This is actually a major source of contamination for gardens.
Weed Control & Mulching
Be proactive. Keep your plants from wilting. The best time of the day to water the garden is first thing in the morning before 8 am. If you water your garden at the hottest part of the day, the sun is going to evaporate the water and it will not have the chance to get down into the soil and root zone. If you water your plants at night, fungus will begin to grow and damage your plants and vegetables.
Try not to water the leaves of your vegetables. Water only the ground surrounding the plant when possible. Water on the leaves of the plants will make them more susceptible to disease.
Concentrate on watering the root zone around the plant trunk and up to several feet away if possible. All vegetable gardens need at least one inch of water each week. Determine when to water by examining the soil rather than the plant. Gardens with sandy soil must be watered more frequently since water passes through the sand faster.
Generally, if the soil is dry when scratched to a depth of one to two inches, more water is necessary. Shallow watering promotes the development of roots at the top of the soil rather than deep in the subsoil. Make sure to keep the application of water at a rate low enough so the water does not run off. Water applied too fast will not soak into the soil zone. I recommend using a soaker hose, if possible, for deep watering. Each watering should be sufficient to reach a depth of at least eight to 12 inches.
Keep gardens, soil, and plants well maintained. Remove all “die back” and any damaged plant parts weekly and continue all season long.
Try to keep pruning tools sterilized after use with one part bleach to 10 parts water. Sterilizing your pruning tools is especially important after pruning diseased plants. You will risk trans-locating plant disease to the next plant you prune if your tools are not sterilized. Be Proactive!Many tools are available to help you manage and maintain a vegetable garden. It pays to purchase tools of good quality, as they will provide better service and stay sharp longer. If properly cared for and kept clean, good quality tools can last a lifetime.
All master growers become great growers by understanding their failures. Stay positive, be proactive and continue to learn from our blogs, tutorials and “how-to” videos at PeoplesChoiceOrganics.com. Using our organic garden fertilizer and other organic products will help you grow a healthy and strong garden!