Home gardeners who want to try their hand at growing organic vegetables should be prepared to put in more “sweat equity,” according Paul Pugliese, agriculture and natural resources agent for Cooperative Extension in Cherokee County.
Growing organic vegetables takes extra planning. For example, organic fertilizers or amendments need to be tilled into the garden well in advance to be effective. And because organic gardening doesn’t allow for pesticides, extra time will need to be spent preventing and pulling weeds. Also, organic gardeners must become familiar with common garden problems and be able to tell the bugs that help gardens from those that are pests.
He offers these tips for novice organic gardeners:
• Get your soil tested by taking a sample to the local UGA Cooperative Extension office.
• Start small and increase garden size each year as you become more comfortable with organic techniques.
• Use basic cultural control options like mulching, pruning, proper spacing, crop rotation, using resistant varieties and planting at the proper times.
• Clean equipment periodically. A 10 percent bleach solution used on pruners and other tools after cutting away diseased plant material will minimize the spread of diseases.
• Water plants as needed and only in the early morning. This helps prevent diseases and develops strong, deep root systems.