Each gardener has his or her own set of gardening guidelines that correspond to certain predetermined gardening styles. If you know your gardening style and if you can apply that style to creating an organic garden, then you have pretty much captured an edge over other gardening enthusiasts. But, if you do not have a gardening style that you can apply to organic vegetable growing, then you could be at a strong disadvantage. What are the different styles of gardening that actually apply to successful organic vegetable harvesting? Here are some of the types that you could consider:
This is the most common of all gardening techniques. It is often referred to as “backyard gardening”. If you are just a novice and not seasonally experienced in vegetable gardening, then residential gardening is your best approach. The primary purpose of the residential garden is to feed a family. A steady supply of home grown vegetables can not only feed your family now, if you understand canning and preserving, your garden can nourish your family long after the production period of your garden has ended.
The second appeal of residential gardening lies in its aesthetic appeal. Your garden can add color and depth to your landscape. It is quite transforming to see what was once only grass, a wooden deck, or a concrete balcony develop into an eye pleasing sculpture.
Residential gardening does not require a great deal of space. A window sill, deck, balcony or other small area that has sufficient light can easily produce a small crop. These small confined areas are easy to monitor and at the same time, easy to maintain. Protecting your garden from pests is much easier in a smaller area. The great thing about residential gardening is the ease with which it transforms the gardening wannabe into the gardening professional. It takes the rookie, having no knowledge of planting, growing, and harvesting, to a level of understanding where other gardening styles become the dream and the possibility.
Specialized gardening usually involves non-residential areas. Common examples of specialized gardening include amusement parks, botanical gardens, zoos, commercial landscaping along highway right of ways, and many more. Making the landscape more attractive seems to be the most common underlying theme of the specialized garden. These landscaping endeavors are rarely the responsibility of a single person. Often times a staff of botanists and gardeners work together to maintain the garden’s aesthetic attractiveness. These gardens are often created to support or deliver revenue to their owners or the organizations supporting them.
Specialized gardens rarely sport vegetables like corn, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, or beans. They, in agreement with their type, focus more on the special or more rare type of flora. Unique flowers, shrubs, even trees are often found in these areas. But, when a specialized garden does focus on vegetable planting, wide row techniques, sewing seeds in a wide band rather than in a single row, are most often applied.
By definition, impact gardening focuses on getting the most out of a small space. It involves using a relatively small gardening area and finding ways to maximize its gardening potential. In order to accomplish this objective, plants are strategically organized and systematically planted in a “crowded” format. This type of gardening requires a basic knowledge of plant types; annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, and even ground cover. Understanding the types of plants most suited to the environment and the climate is paramount to successful impact gardening.
Impact gardening requires planning. A haphazard approach will not work. A layout of which plants will be placed where is paramount to successful impact growing. The best approach is to actually draw out a schematic of the garden labeling specific areas and then filling those areas with the appropriate plants. These designs or surveys should be as detailed as possible to include plant specifics and cost analysis.
There are four basic steps to successful impact gardening.
- Step one, survey a space for the garden and mark off the specific site. It is best to have the long side of the plot aligned with the sun, from east to west. This helps keep the plants from burning in the summer heat, and ruining your crops.
- Step two, design the garden. It should be attractive yet maintain its functionality.
- Step three, make long thin beds, eight feet longer than they are wide. This makes it easy to weed and plant. Build the bed frames out of long 2×8’s. If you make several, you can lay them end to end, parallel to the sun.
- Step four, use soaker hoses to water. Place them up and down the rows, about one foot from the edges of the bed.
Growing plants indoors is not only a science, it is an art. This type of gardening can be as small as a few potted plants kept on the coffee table or near the front door; or as large as a greenhouse with thousands of plant varieties housed in a climate controlled environment. These greenhouses or conservatories are designed and built with controlled systems for heating and air conditioning, whatever the plants require. Unfortunately this hot house type of gardening is more suitable to the commercial grower because of the expense factor involved.
For the home owner, the greatest benefit of indoor gardening is the simple fact that plants can be grown year round, completely independent of extreme climatic conditions like heat, cold, wind, or rain. Light is the most common limiting factor for indoor gardening. Most plants do not do well indoors, so it is important to match the light needs of a particular plant with the amount of light you can offer it. There are three general light categories–high, medium and low light. An easy way to measure how much light is in a particular area is to use a light meter, which is typically available at local nurseries, or simply hold your hand between the source of light and the spot where the plant is to be set. The amount of shadow gives a rough indication of available light. If there is no shadow or if a shadow is difficult to see, then that is an indication of low light.
If you like low supervision gardening and love fish and aquatic plants, then water gardening is your style. Perhaps the most important consideration in water gardening is location selection. Most aquatic plants and fish need plenty of sun, so a place that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight is your best bet. Choose a site away from tall shrubs and trees. This site will then provide the best lighting and hopefully prevent the accumulation of leaf debris on the pond surface.
Planning is once again very important. Make sure you apply both common sense and some basic gardening principles to your site plan before you begin construction. Consider the overall size of your property, the size of your site selection, and your ability to maintain your garden before you scoop the first shovel of dirt. It goes without saying, small ponds are best for small properties. A container on a deck may be all that your need in accordance with the space you have available. Features like waterfalls, rock work, lighting and fountains are budget dependent. They may add style, but they could be overly costly.
Aquatic plants should cover no more than 50 – 60 percent of the water surface. Some are free floating while others are marginals or partially submerged. Selection depends on pond size and your personal preference. Water lilies are very popular and can add drama and fragrance even in small gardens. Some plants oxygenate the water and they help keep the water clear and the pool healthy. Fish can be a beneficial addition, because of their scavenging activities. They naturally clean up debris that would otherwise accumulate in the garden. They also can help control mosquito larva, and other insect development.
Community gardening is becoming quite popular especially in highly populated urban areas. It involves concentrated efforts from different members of the community to help plant, maintain, and then harvest a garden. It is a huge undertaking, but the members of the community are given autonomy to style their areas in whichever way they choose. Locally, the Master Gardner program, through local Agricultural Extension Services, can provide just the right atmosphere for a community to plant a garden, maintain its integrity, and harvest its produce.
Neighborhoods pull together and transform vacant lots into green space. Building tenants gather on rooftops to plant and grow vegetables. Everyone shares in the responsibility and the harvest. This is community gardening in its purest form. These community gardens are a great way to get both children and adults involved in beautifying the neighborhood while at the same time working with nature.
No matter which style suits your needs best, it can be effectively applied to organic gardening. Each gardening style requires some level of planning and site preparation. Once planting is complete, the actual work of gardening begins. Caring for the plants in your garden is very similar to caring for your pets. They need regular food and water. Their space needs to be cleaned or weeded regularly. And, the more attention you give them, the more they respond and produce.