Every family has a dream of growing organic vegetables in their garden and Organic strawberriesliving off the “produce grid” at the grocery store. However, not every family feels as though they can grow a fully-organic garden in their backyard. Anything is possible when following just a few wise steps that will lead to a healthy and thriving garden every single year. Organic produce is better for you for a number of reasons, but the lack of genetic modifications and dangerous pesticides make organic produce a must for any diet. In addition, many people (myself included) note that organic produce just tastes better than factory farmed produce. It’s easy to imagine that the tender loving care you give your your garden definitely has an effect on the flavor, and the regular watering and healthy soil don’t hurt either. Perhaps most importantly, having organic produce within arm’s reach will also inspire you to make healthier diet choices! Here are some guidelines for growing delicious organic produce.

1. Always make sure the soil is somewhat soft.

Many times, the backyard of a family’s home will have hard and soft patches of soil. The soil must be soft if the garden is going to be planted properly. One option is to simply avoid hard ground and only stick to large patches of earth that are soft. Another option is to have the yard aerated to loosen up the earth and allow for much softer soil when beginning the project. This is a wise choice in more arid climates.

2. Use organic soil and fertilizer.

The soil and fertilizer that the family uses to plant and bury seeds
should be named organic on the package. While this can be a little more expensive, it is worth the price of admission when the family wants an organic garden. Likewise, the fertilizer that the family uses should be labeled organic so that there is no confusion about the use of organic ingredients.

3. Plant food that will grow in your area.

While families may want to have a wide variety of foods in their garden, there are certain plants that grow well in certain areas. It would be unwise to choose foods that will only grow a few weeks out of the year. It would also be unwise to plant foods that are not going to be able to stand up to very hot temperatures if the family lives in a place that has exceedingly hot summers. Doing the research and finding out which foods will grow best in the area in which the family lives will help to prolong the investment the family has made. Talking to other local gardeners is a good first step.

4. Carefully tend the garden.

While the garden can grow with the occasional watering and pruning, the garden must be tended carefully and often. When fruits begin to bud, they need to be clipped as soon as they are ready to allow room for other fruits to bloom. Plants that grow on stalks need to be harvested quickly so that more fruits can grow on the same stalk.

Also, the garden must be watched for plants are not fairing very well. Any plant that is ill or unhealthy needs to either be removed or nursed back to health.

5. Bring the plants inside in winter.

When winter comes around, it is best to uproot every plant and bring them inside the house or onto a covered patio. Pulling the plants out of the ground can help save them from dying when temperatures get very cold. Saving the plants during the winter is the best way to have a fresh group of plants to put back out in the summer.

6. Pesticides Must Be Natural.

When insects invade the garden, it is best for the pesticides used
to ward off insects to be natural. While there are many natural pesticides on the market, home remedies¬ can also be made to spray on the plants to keep pests away. Examples of these organic pest control remedies include mixing citrus oil and cayenne pepper for ant control and using salt spray for spider mites. There are a bunch of these organic home pest remedies, so there’s no reason to have to break out the can of toxic Raid bug spray. The commitment to growing organic must start with the soil and end with the pest control solutions that are used.

Every family can have an organic garden at home after choosing the right soil, selecting plants that will grow well, and tending the garden regularly. The well-tended, organic garden can produce healthy, fresh produce for the family for a large part of every year. Also, you may find that gardening can become an addicting hobby as well.

Erica Anderson is a mother of two and writer from Tucson, Arizona. She loves writing about landscape design, parenting, and pets.