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8 Easy Steps to an Organic Garden

by Mike Ohrberg, Director of Restores      


If you’re interested in protecting your health and the environment from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, an organic garden is just what you need. Luckily, there’s a way to grow your own delicious, fresh produce, while having fun and learning at the same time. Here are 8 easy steps to get you started fostering a more holistic lifestyle and ecosystem:

Prepare the Soil

In order to get the best results with your organic garden, make sure the soil is properly conditioned. Healthy soil helps build strong, productive plants. The best way to gauge the quality of your soil is to test it with a home testing kit. Typically, it’s best to test in the fall and apply any organic nutrients before winter.


Make Good Compost

Compost feeds plants, helps conserve water, cuts down on weeds, and keeps food and yard waste out of landfills. Spread compost around plants, mix with potting soil and use to revive struggling plants.


Choose the Right Plants

Choose plants that will be well adjusted to light, moisture, drainage and soil quality. Most gardens have gradations in these variables. The happier your plants are, the more resistant they’ll be to attackers.


Proper Watering

The best time to water plants is in the morning. Mornings tend to be cool and without strong winds, so the amount of water lost to evaporation is reduced. If you water in the evening plants stay damp overnight, making them more likely to be damaged by fungal and bacterial diseases. Ideally, you want to water the roots, not the greenery, which is easily damaged. A drip or soak system can work great, or just carefully water the bases of plants by hand.



Reduce the number of weeds you have to contend with by applying mulch (which also helps protect the soil). Organic mulch that will rot down into the soil is almost always preferable to landscape fabric, although burlap and other materials can work in a pinch.


Protect Plants Without Toxic Pesticides

If your plants are being assaulted by pests, it may be a sign of other problems. First, make sure they are getting enough light, nutrients and moisture. Also remember that a diverse garden helps prevent pests, by limiting the amount of one type of plant offered up to enemies, and boosting biodiversity.



During peak harvest season, you’ll find it’s best to check your garden every day.



If you have sick plants, make sure you pull up the entire plant. Rake underneath since diseased leaves can cause problems event when the plant has been removed Most healthy or expired plants can be left over winter, providing food and habitat for birds and other wildlife, and plant cover can help protect your soil from eroding.


For more information on how to create your own organic garden, visit a Habitat for Humanity ReStore located in Temecula or Lake Elsinore. Directions to each location can be found at or call (951) 676-1221 for more information.