Trying To Get Into Organic

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-30-2003
Trying To Get Into Organic
Thu, 05-23-2013 - 3:57pm

Hi!  I have been into gardening since I was a little girl and I am wondering about organic gardening.  My dad always told me that it would be too hard to do and that I wouldn't get as many veggies from doing it.  But the more I read about pesticides, the more I think that it would probably be better if I didn't have to use them. 

Have any of you had luck with just a small organic veggie garden in your backyard in the deep south?  I live about 20 miles west of Dallas and by June it is very hot and the ants and grasshoppers start taking over if you don't take care of them first.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2001
Fri, 05-24-2013 - 10:56am

I never tried to grow ANYTHING when I lived in Houston --- tooo darned hot! But I do try to grow organic here in NW Ohio and what I've found is two things --- you have to really really workd to pick nasty bugs off plants (tomato hornworms, fo example) and you have to "settle" for imperfect-looking crops that taste a heck of a lot better than what you find in the store.  And you'd be surprised at how much you can get in the way of harvest from a small planted area --- be prepared to share with neighbors or can/freeze surplus becasuse after a while, green beans every night gets tiring, KWIM?

Check out organic gardening websites (here's a good one: come up with "natural" pesticides (warm soapy water does wonders) and fetilizers (make compost tea, for example). And get used to the fact that some things simply won't grow in your area without chemical intervention so just don't grow them (I had to give up on summer squash becasue of squash borers, for example).

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Wed, 05-29-2013 - 12:41am

I've had an organic garden since 2005. I live in southern California where it gets hot but not as hot as where you are. Ants are not a huge problem for me but some years the grasshoppers are. I catch them in my hand, or snip them in half with scissors. I also spray plants with water to dislodge bugs and that makes the grasshoppers jump off too. Like Carol said, tomato hornworms get picked off by hand, as do snails. 

Look into companion planting, such as marigolds mixed in with the tomatoes. Some herbs or flowers will repel certain insects, others attract beneficial insects that will eat the bugs that bother the veggie plant. 

Its more time consuming to do all of this by hand, but to me its a peaceful way to spend time. All in all it probably ends up the same amount of time because of the time spent mixing chemicals, putting on protective clothing, properly disposing of the leftover chemicals etc. I don't know why your yields would be less when organic. Amend the plots well before planting, and fertilize periodically during the growing season like you would with chemical fertilizers---just use organic products instead. I like the Dr Earth brand but there are several available at different price points. You'll probably need to buy them at a nursery or online rather than at a "big box" store. You can compost your kitchen and (organic) garden and yard waste then use it as amendment or make compost tea for liquid fertilizer like Carol suggested; the only cost is your time. 

Organic Gardening magazine has a good website, also Garden Web has a forum for organic gardening. 

Community Leader
Registered: 02-27-1999
Sat, 06-15-2013 - 5:40pm

I used to subscribe to Organic Gardening magazine (when Mike McGrath was editor) and I grew plenty without pesticides and chemicals.  I'm just east of you down I-40 near Memphis, where summers are brutal.  I didn't find it difficult at all, but my garden then was large, most of an acre.  Now I have a very small lot, and it is troublesome to grow much here.  

Keeping birds and toads attracted to your garden will help control insects.  Also a spray bottle with a little bit of tea tree oil in water makes a natural insecticidal soap.  What it does is suffocate the insects, and it won't hurt your plants.  I got mine at GNC.  I bathe with it, too, since I'm allergic to regular soap.  Many natural solutions work in the garden, such as using beer traps for slugs.  Here in the Mississippi Delta the soil is very rich, we call it black gold, so I have never had to add fertilizer.  If you grow beans, they affix nitrogen and take care of your other plants.  My only issues gardening this way were deer, fox, raccoons and possums!  I read that keeping a radio playing in the garden at night will deter them, but by the time I read that it was too late to save my corn!  They got the whole crop in one night, and instead of ME picking it the next morning as planned, I had a couple of acres of corn husks and stalks to clean up in the front yard!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2013
Fri, 06-28-2013 - 10:43am

You will need to test the soil for your organic garden. In the U.S., check online for your county or state Home/Agricultural Extension Service. They will guide you in taking soil samples from different areas of the location you chose for your organic garden. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2013
Fri, 07-12-2013 - 3:11am

Organic gardening has increasingly become an important part in today's life style and is getting popular. There are actually many ways to grow an organic garden. The only thing that makes it an organic garden is that absolutely no chemicals can be used when it comes to growing the food. I have grown few veg. plants in my backyard.