California Organic Gardening Guide
No matter where you live in California, you can cultivate and enjoy the benefits of California organic gardening. This is a perfect way for you to get outdoors, enjoy the sunshine, and get some healthy meals in the process. California organic gardening is also great for our state’s environment! If you are new to the subject, here is some basic information for beginners.
A compost bin is highly recommended. A good compost bin will have aerator vents, be rodent proof, keep the heat in while keeping the rain out. Some composting tumblers have come out recently that make composting a breeze. You can have one side going with older material and add organic scraps to the other. If you would like to have your compost ready in weeks rather than months, you can get some type of compost activator. The compost activator will come as a small pouch of organisms that will speed the process of composting. This is a great way to give your compost bin a good head start. The most common type of compost activator is a highly concentrated powder bacteria and fungi. Simply shake 2-3 cups of the activator powder over your compost pile and then moisten the pile with water. If all goes well, your compost bin can heat up and reach temperatures as high as 140 degrees. This is a good thing and it means you will soon have rich organic soil to plant your vegetables in.
Worm Compost Bin
If you’re like most people you occasionally let vegetables or fruit go bad. Instead of throwing this away into landfills or putting it down the garbage disposal, put this nutrient rich rotten food into a worm bin. Start a worm bin by building up at least a cubic foot of compost and adding some red worms. Red worms are the best composting worm available. For less than $20, you can buy 500 or 1 lb of red worms. Vendors that sell red worms provide worms in all stages of life. This is important to starting a healthy worm bin population. You want to make sure that your worm bin does not get too hot. A temperature of 65 to 85 degrees is ideal. In areas of California where the temperature gets too hot, you may want to consider a regular compost bin as described above.
Another important aspect of organic gardening is pest control. Unfortunately, there are few insects that eat weeds. Mostly insects will eat the good plants of your organic garden. However there is hope! Beneficial Insects – those that eat the bugs that eat your plants are a mainstay of organic gardening. Pest Control using beneficial insects allows you to forgo the use of dangerous chemical pesticides. The three most widely used beneficial insects are green lacewings, ladybugs , and the praying mantis. Beneficial nematodes are also used, but they are more common for larger organic farms and not the backyard gardener. Ladybugs will help eat pests like aphids that live and breed on the leavers of your organic vegetables and fruit. The Praying mantis will eat almost any pest in your garden included earwigs and ticks. If you are serious about California organic gardening you should buy a fresh population of several beneficial insects every season. You can expect to pay about $40 to $60 for a set of about 4 different commonly used pest eating insects sufficient for a large garden of about an acre or so in size. Bats are another useful thing to have in your yard if you have a mosquito problem. In addition to controlling mosquitoes, bats also produce guano which can be a highly effective fertilizer.
Best Locations for California Organic Gardening
Organic gardening can be done in your back yard, front yard, or in a greenhouse. If you’re planting in your yard, you will probably want to till your soil first. If you have a few acres, a tractor can save your back a lot of work. A variety of gardening tools can make your life much easier. A tiller can till your land and mix in nutrient rich organic compost. The benefits of growing inside a greenhouse are that your plants are protected from wind, pests and weeds. Wind can deal a devastating toll on plants. Some gardeners will even build wind breaks around their garden. In places where cold temperatures are a problem you can also buy greenhouses with a heater inside them to keep the plants warmer. If you plan to garden outside, weeding is something that you just can’t get around unless you put your precious plants in containers or grow them in a greenhouse. As far as California organic gardening is concerned, a greenhouse is definitely the best way to go if you can afford it.
A trellis is important to a plant’s well being. Without proper support, plants will not grow as fast and will not be as fruitful. Stakes can help save your plants from the wind. It can be pretty depressing to wake up in the morning and discover that your plants were destroyed by a wind storm because you failed to protect them.
Tools to Garden the Organic Way!
In short, California organic gardening can be one of the most rewarding hobbies. It can be an expensive hobby after you add up all the tools that you may need – tractor/tiller, chipper, greenhouse equipment, electronics, irrigation, shredder, sheers, compost tumbler, worm bin, organic fertilizer. But, spending money on these tools can turn out to be some of your best spent money resulting in bigger yields with less effort. Northern California gardeners should especially consider a greenhouse while Southern California gardeners do not have to worry as much about cold temperatures. In terms of vegetable selection, tomatoes grow best where the temperature is around 90 degrees. Carrots grow better in cold temperatures around 70 degrees.
Please join our community and let others know what you like to grow in your part of California. Exchange seeds, ideas, and support your favorite local California organic vendors online.