Organic gardening is about creating a self-sustainable landscape without the use of harmful chemicals. Proper planning is essential to the success of any garden, but especially for those relying on organic practices. To get the most from your gardening experience in and around King, NC, try following the tips provided below. While many of these organic gardening tips can be applied nearly anywhere, the plants and growing requirements for this particular area should be appropriate for Zone 7. This hardiness zone is considered the middle ground of gardening, with varying elevations, longer days, and plenty of diversity.
Location. Before you begin choosing plants for your organic garden, you should first study the area for suitable planting locations. Take note of sun and shaded areas, drainage patterns, and soil type. These are all important factors for achieving a successful garden. Generally, much of our soil here in the King area consists of hard, red clay-not the ideal growing medium to say the least. However, this can easily be remedied with the addition of organic matter.
Compost/Fertilizer. By maintaining your own compost pile, you not only can create more nutrient-enriched soil, but you also cut out the need for chemical fertilizers and reduce waste. Kitchen scraps, grass clippings, twigs, leaves, manure, and even earthworms are all excellent sources of organic matter that can be added to compost. Once compost has sufficiently decomposed, it can be added to your soil to further enhance its drainage and nutrient-holding capacity. Applying additional compost throughout the growing season can help increase plant vigor as well.
Plants. When choosing plants for the organic garden, select those that will thrive naturally in your particular location as well as those suitable to growing in King, NC (Zone 7). These not only have the best chance of survival but are well adapted to the ever-changing conditions in this area-hot and dry one day, warm and humid the next, then cool and rainy, etc. Study up on suitable plants through books, online sources or local garden centers and nursery specialists (such as Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse in King) for advice on the best plant choices in this area.
Pests. While many nonchemical pesticide/herbicide alternatives exist for organic gardening, such as nets, screening, and natural-made products, plants can also offer a more organic solution. For instance, the use of companion planting can eliminate the need for insecticides by repelling many types of pests. It may be helpful to research common insect pests found around the King area, like Japanese beetles, as well as the types of native plants they tend to avoid. Adding these plants can significantly reduce unwanted pests in the garden while encouraging beneficial insects and wildlife.
Space. Think outside the standard vegetable plot and get creative with space. Plant vegetables together to make the most of your garden space and maximize its overall growing potential-lettuce beneath tomatoes, beans running up corn stalks, etc. In addition, mix vegetable plants with flowers and herbs. Again, using companion planting techniques will help your organic garden flourish.
Mulch. Adding organic mulch to the garden is essential. It conserves moisture, insulates plants, moderates soil temperature, keeps down weeds, encourages earthworms, and breaks down over time to further enhance soil health. Anything from shredded leaves and bark to pine needles and straw can be used. Even wet newspaper will work with another layer of mulch or compost on top. A minimum of 2-4 inches should be sufficient. Some mulch can be acquired free if you’re lucky enough to have a wooded area nearby, which there’s no shortage of here in King. Simply rake up pine needles (and leaf litter) and use it as mulch or add it to the compost heap.
Water. If you’ve chosen plants well, then chances are you’ll have little need for extensive watering. The addition of mulch should also lessen this need. However, to make the most of water conservation when this task is in order, opt for using a rain barrel and reuse nutrient-rich rainwater. Also, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation as opposed to overhead watering and sprinklers.
By using the tips above, you should have no problem with creating a successful organic garden in King, NC.