5 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Organic Vegetable Gardener

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Me, taking pictures of our harvest

Do you love gardening as much as I and my family does? Do you hate using chemical fertilizers and pesticides? If yes, are you struggling growing your veggies? Are your tomatoes not ripening? Are they staying small? In this post I’m sharing some of the lessons I’ve (we have) learned from trying to grow tomatoes organically (with zero chemical fertilizers and pesticides) in our kitchen garden – in the ground as well as in pots.

But, before I go on to share my organic gardening lessons, I can’t help but share my joy of harvesting my own vegetables. The feeling is beyond words.
Here are some pictures and thoughts!

Our Tomato Plants

As soon as my eye opens from sleep every morning, I saunter toward the garden, making sure I don’t trip over any of the 60 + tomato plants. I sit in front of each of them to see how much my tomatoes have grown; if there are new flowers. I also talk to them, softly and gently, “you’re growing so well. Your tomatoes are looking great.”

Tomato Flowers

This is the state of every member in our family ever since we’ve started growing our own vegetables. The magic of growing has settled over us as lightly, and clingingly as pollen. (this line has been adapted in this context from the book – ‘My family and other animals’ – by Gerald Durrell)

Has it happened with you too? Having your own vegetables, you don’t feel like wasting a drop of juice from the tomato, every single seed is precious. As I harvested the first lot last week, I felt like gobbling up all the tomatoes – raw. They were so, juicy, tasty, well.. I can’t describe!

4 little green tomatoes

Every time, when we get a stock of tomatoes ready to pluck, I’d look at mamma imploringly – asking if I can pluck them. As tempted as I feel to pluck the tomatoes, even my mamma feels excited. After all, she’s done most of the work for the tomatoes. 🙂 But, she lets me pluck most of them!

Recent Harvest

Here are some veggies we harvested a week back. The pasta I made from these was delicious!

Our chopped veggies

I chopped the tomatoes. I actually popped some in my mouth while i was chopping. It was really juicy, I tell you!

So, ready to move on to some of the most important lessons in organic gardening – that we’ve learned after much trial and error? Let’s go!

1. Nurture your soil: Add coco peat, compost, vermi compost. It’s doesn’t matter how bad your soil is-you can nurture it with all of these things.

2. Mulching: (covering the top of your soil with chopped dried leaves.) This helps your soil to                stay nourished. Too much sun makes the soil dead – because the micro organisms will perish and the soil will be dead, and infertile. That’s the reason ‘Desert sand is grainy, infertile, and dry’. The high heat makes it like that. And rains too, will erode your soil away.

Mulching                                                                                  Mulching

3. Consistent watering, and deep watering: Try to water your plants consistently. And first       touch your soil – if it’s damp one inch below, don’t give water. Give deep watering – giving lots of water will make the roots go deep, and make your plants strong, rather than watering lightly every day.

  •   Watering in the evening is better, because it gives moisture to the plant whole night. Watering in the morning is a waste, because most of the water evaporates, leaving the plant dry. Also, this is important: If you’re watering in the evening, don’t water the leaves, that could cause fungul infection. Only water the roots and the soil.

4. Transplant deep: When you move your saplings to the ground or to a bigger container, don’t just bury the plant 2 – 3 inches deep. But, remove the bottom leaves and bury the plant with not only the roots but also a large part of the stem. Transplanting your plant deep with make it grow strong and sturdy. It doesn’t matter if there’s really less of the plant peeking out of the soil – the more it goes in, the better. Fact: You must have noticed fine white hair on the stem of your tomato plant(if you’ve growed any)if those hairs go inside the soil deeply, it turns into roots. The more the roots, studier the plant.

 

↓: Fine white hair on our tomato plant.
Fine white hair on my tomato plant

5.  Planting different plants together: Pest attack was rampant when we first started gardening. This is our lesson: Keeping one kind of plant together in clusters can cause pest attack. If you keep different plants together, like marigold and tomato, the pest may not like the smell of marigold so it won’t attack the tomato too – because you kept the two plants together. Also, when you grow different plants together, pests will not be able to find their way through this maze – to reach their favorite plant.

  • Many gardeners like to grow hibiscus – we too. But, we’ve learned that the leaves of this plant are sweet so they can be badly affected by pests and cause problems to your vegetable plants.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–So, that’s it for the post guys! Hope you found it helpful. We’ve got a good amount of tomatoe plants, right? It’s worth the effect. And even if they’re not as red, and as big as the market ones – it’s organic, and plucked from your own garden. What can be better than that!?

Growing your food is the most peaceful.. And growing it naturally is the healthiest thing. For the earth, us, and the plants.

Hey – There’s a wonderful giveaway running on my Mamma’s blog. If you haven’t entered it do so now to win! It’s ending on June 7, sunday.


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25 comments

  1. Madhu says:

    Pari, I also water the plants in the evening. I didn’t know that we should not wet the leaves in the evening and that can cause fungal infection. I passed on this information to my friend as well. We couldn’t figure out why her plants were under fungal attack. Now we know 🙂

    This time I had planted all my plants in compost, like JUST compost. . Don’t know if it’s because of that but the plants are so small but still I see flowers. Will email you the pictur.

    Lovely post as usual Pari.

    • Parinita says:

      Hey Madhu, I’m happy you found the information useful. That’s nice, It’s good to know you’re getting flowers already. Maybe those flowers will turn into veggies/fruits in couple of weeks! That’ll be great, tell me if you get some.

      Thank you, keep reading 🙂

  2. Padma says:

    Pari,

    Its been a long time since i commented on a blog of yours 🙂 Loved reading this detailed and informative one. I too am an organic home gardener and toamto plants are so kind!

    Got to tell you, the pictures looks ah-maazing!! You mom told me you clicked them all yourself. That is some serious photo-eye you have got.

    A small bit of info I think you will like – Tomato, Chillies, capsicum, Brinjal and potatoes are part of a family of plants called “Nightshades”. If you google it, you’ll find that Tobacco plants, the beautiful petunia and the deadly poisonous Mandagora and Belladonna.

    Isnt it interesting how plants belonging to the same family/genus can have such varied uses, impact and looks?

    Keep writing and keep clicking pari. I always try to read your blog, even if I dont comment. When I read from the phone, it is a nuisance to type out good comments from the tiny keypad.

    Love
    Padma

    • Parinita says:

      Hey Padma! So good to hear from you after a looong time. Infact, it’s funny – I was just thinking about you, çoz it’s been a long time. I was wondering when next you’ll comment, and here you are – right after that thought!

      Wow nice, it’s good to know you’re growing organically too. Have you harvested any fruits/veggies yet? Would love to know what you’ve grown!

      Ohh, thanks for you compilments. I’m so delighted you liked the pictures. I really loved them too. I LOVE taking pictures from my mom’s canon camera with the ’50 mm’lens. It gives beautiful pictures.

      Hmm.. It’s good to know all that you’ve shared with me. I had no idea all of those veggies belong to the same genus. Thanks for sharing it with me. You’re right, I was surprised – all of those veggies are so different from one another!

      Thanks again, Padma. It’s a delight to have you here. You’ve read my thoughts – I have the same problem! I usually have mamma’s phone around when I’m out, but I like to avoid typing from phone’s – I’m better at laptops, it’s so tough to write in a phone – with the tiny keypad.

      Love, Pari. Phew, long comment. It took me a little time writing it, but at the same time, I really enjoyed writing it! Hope you like it too…
      Parinita recently posted…5 Lessons I’ve Learned as an Organic Vegetable GardenerMy Profile

      • Padma says:

        Wow.. That must be some great telepathy at work! I am glad you thought of me. And we must be the only two people in the world who prefer to use the laptop than the phone for writing. LoL.

        I noticed that i left a few lines incomplete in my previous comment. Sorry for that 🙂

        I grow tomatoes, chillies, mint, coriander and spinach all round the year. Summers in Hyderabad are very harsh, so leafy plants don’t do well. I just mulched the yard before summer and let only those plants remain that had some strength.

        Like you, we too plant food, flowers and trees in a jumble, so that pests dont attack. But all marigolds and such gentle plants die in summer here. We are looking for rains by mid-june, so i have started tomato and chilly seedlings. This time, i also am going to put tindora, turai (lauki), pumpkin, clusterbeans (guar) and ashgourd.

        Hoping for the best!! Goa must be pleasent now. Hope the rains bring you a much better harvest next time.
        ,
        🙂

        • Parinita says:

          Hey Padma! Thanks for your quick response. I didn’t think you’d respond so quickly, and when you did I was so happy. He he, yup. I think so too. I really prefer laptop more 🙂

          That’s okay. I loved your comment. And the best thing about it was, you shared many things with me, too.

          Wow, amazing! That’s quite a lot of stuff you seem to be growing. Did you harvest any veggies?

          Oh yes, it is. The rains are just about to start anytime now(not NOW, but in about a week or so) and rains are SO harsh here! It’s like the whole roof is about to break down. Really. You can’t grow anything now(that are not rain plants). Last time, the heavy rains erode down all my little cherry tomato saplings! :(.

          I’m thinking to plant cucumber though, because that’s a plant that grows in the rain. I planted it last time, but it dried up. But anyway, I want to soon put new seeds that’ll last in the rain.

          But the thing I like about the rains, is the cool weather it brings you. Not really a good cool weather in which you can travel and stuff, because you never know when the rain would start again! some days it becomes cloudy after the rain, but mostly the sun comes up after it. So, that’s good.

          Bye!
          🙂

  3. Suma says:

    Wow Pari! Simply loved this article of yours. It is so informative and you are such a keen learner. I love growing organic vegetables and this one made so much sense. Pruning is one more item you may want to add next time. Eagerly waiting for your next article my dear. Lots of love.

    • Parinita says:

      Hello, Suma! I can’t describe how happy I am by seeing these lovely comments, from all you amazing blog readers. Can’t wait to write more articles! You’ve encouraged me so much.

      Yes, and actually, I was thinking to write ‘pruning’ here, but didn’t. But I enjoyed writing this post so much, I so wanting to do more. And I will! Infact, i’m looking forward to start a ‘series’ about this!

  4. Swati says:

    Thanks Pari. Beautifully written and very helpful. Just like you I am also a beginner. I have started with herbs but will definitely try tomatoes.

  5. Sujith Kumar G says:

    Hi Pari…

    Thanks for sharing the valuable tips. Under the able guidance of your mother, I hope you will share more valuable tips which will be useful for starters like me….

    Keep Sharing….

    Love

    Sujith

    • Parinita says:

      Hey Sujith, thanks for coming over to my blog. I’m so motivated and happy to know you liked the tips/lessons. Can’t wait to do more of gardening posts 🙂 Sure, will love to share more tips on my blog.

      Cheers,

      Pari

  6. Miquela says:

    Hi, Pari.

    It has been a long time since I’ve commented on your blog. I’ve been having problems with my computer and can’t see a way to fix them any time soon. 🙁

    We are trying to grow lots of things on our balcony in Cairo (tomatoes, tomatillos, kale, beets, corn, kumquat, pomegranate, bell peppers, chiles, okra [gumbo], and herbs), but we haven’t had the best success rate because we don’t get enough sun. We keep trying, though, because it is our dream to buy a farm in France and grow as much of our own food as we can.

    I had no idea about hibiscus attracting pests. That is good to know!

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Miquela

    PS Yesterday, out of the blue, Soëlie said, “You remember that girl Pari?” 😀

    • Parinita says:

      Hey Miquela,

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I’ve been wondering about you lately. Oh, okay. 🙁
      Oh wow, those veggies sure are a lot! I’d love to grow some of them. Same here! it’s like you read my thoughts. we have the same dream, taking a land in goa, and buliding our own house.

      I’m happy the hibiscus info was helpful to you.

      Isn’t it amazing how these coincidences are connecting together? It’s funny how Soëlie remembered me yesterday— Yesterday I was itching to buy sweet lime from egypt!

      🙂 Thanks for commenting, I sure do love that!

  7. Dipika says:

    Hi Pari

    Loved reading your post.

    I am a gardening lover too, and started my garden with herbs like organic Basil and Mint. Also planted Lemon and waiting for my Chilly to germinate.

    I also planted Celery that has grown-up very well, but last week we had heavy rain here in eastern part of USA and sadly I forgot to shade my plants and now my Celery plant is infected.

    I am glad your post will be helpful for others to save there plants.

    Dipika

    • Parinita says:

      Hey Dipika ~

      I’m glad you liked it.

      That’s wonderful to know you like gardening. Even I have a lemon plant in our yard in a big pot, and I’m started to get a lemon in it. Waiting for it to grow! It’s been seriously infested with caterpillars though, I’m worried about it.

      That’s sad to know that your celery was effected. Hope you have much better luck next time. We’ve just bulit a shade for our tomato plants, because we have REALLY heavy rains. A LOT. We’ve got water in our kitchen multiple times now. Even the plastic that we put for shade for our tomatoes, (we tied it on bamboo) has got a pit in the middle of it and almost touching the plants, in rains.

      I’m glad my post is helpful to other people. Thanks a lot for coming over my blog – it’s wonderful to have new people.
      This posts has been really popular(thanks to all of you) keep commenting and liking!

      P.S : Thanks for joining into our Wild Discovery group. Mamma just accepted your request. Will look forward to a intro of you on the group, and great discoveries from you.

      ~ Parinita/Pari
      (You can call me Pari only, if you’d like 🙂 I’m fine with anything – I’m more used to being called Pari, though)

      • Dipika says:

        Hey Pari,

        It’s nice that you are having fruit on your lemon plant, I still have to wait for 3 year. My plant is a small baby same age as my little boy (6 months) so it’s like my second baby. I feel excited when I find new leaves on it.

        Feeling sad for your plant, hope you have enough rain not to hurt you plan.

        You and your plants always stay safe and happy in this rainy season.

        Dipika.

        • Parinita says:

          Hey Dipika!

          Thank you for replying. Yup, I can’t wait for it to ripe. I’m also so eager to see it turning yellow; it has to grow in it’s size a bit, too.

          That’s funny! Coincidence.

          Yes, hopefully, this time we’ve put a shade(as I told you in my earlier comment) so my plants wouldn’t be hurt because of the harsh rain, and winds.

          Hope you have a wonderful harvest.

          ~ Parinita

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