There’s always more than one way to accomplish a goal. One of the secrets to choosing the best way for YOU is knowing the advantages and/or disadvantages of the way you choose.
That’s not always the easiest thing to know; especially when you’re new to organic gardening and have no experience. Most articles concentrate on what the supposed advantages of the method being addressed are.
If you want a way to grow food for yourself in a manner that works with nature, eliminates the need to fertilize, spray, till, water (in most parts of the world) and keeps weeding to a few minutes every day and is EASY— my 3 keys will be YOUR keys to obtaining that goal.
How Do I Know?
You might be asking yourself how I know that the 3 keys are best to accomplish that goal. And how would I know about other ways.
I’ve spent 40 years proving the value of the 3 keys. And while proving their value, I experimented for 20 years with almost any method you can think of. The goal was to find ways that would give me the same fantastic results with less effort. So when I tell you things, it’s from experience.
What I’ve found is these 3 keys will give you more to show for your time and effort with each passing year than any other methods.
The 3 keys deal with universal principles of successful organic gardening AND the various ways to keep in step with those principles.
That’s why I wrote a book to explain them simply but in detail, so you’ll know exactly what to do.
Emails and comments I receive from readers indicate they’ve found the same thing to be true:
Toni from Oregon writes:“I definitely have experienced the wonderful changes in my garden since learning these three clear cut principles to gardening. Thank you Theresa for making it so understandable and doable!”
Sandra from Maryland writes: “I like how you boil it down so simply, Theresa. The three keys are more than enough to give success for anyone.”
Read dozens more comments on how readers feel about the 3 keys here.
You can order my book, Organic Gardening – Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening for $28.95 here.
First Key – Soil Preparation
How you choose to prepare your soil will determine many things; two of the most important being:
- when you can plant into the newly prepared bed
- whether or not you’ll have to water (or at the very least – how much you’ll have to water)
I recommend gardening in the ground. But if you’re thinking of just filling some framed structures (popularly called framed raised beds) the following posts will tell you about some of the disadvantages.
Contained Raised Beds? No way!
Raised Beds/ Lasagna Gardening/ Soil Preparation
A Reader’s Questions on Soil Preparation
3 Things of Primary Importance When Starting a Garden
All in-ground gardening methods boil down to two options for soil preparation.
#1- preparing soil yourself
#2 – letting nature prepare it for you
But there are different ways to go about whichever option you choose.
If you choose to prepare the soil yourself:
I suggest you use my First Key to Success which is deep soil preparation. This is done only once in the life of the garden bed you prepare. My book gives two ways you can accomplish it AND detailed instructions on how to do it.
If you don’t have the book this post will help: Soil Preparation – 1st Key – Part 3
If this seems like a lot of work to you, think about this:
Again, you only do this ONCE in the life of the garden bed. Garden beds at my current location are 21 years old. Disturbing the soil deeply by digging or tilling (as per my instructions in the book or the post linked to above) was only done when the beds were first prepared 21 years ago.
Deep preparation makes a huge difference in the amount of water your beds can hold as a reserve for dry periods. Six inches of water can be held in 24 inches of prepared soil. It’s one of the main advantages of following this recommendation.
Keeping your beds mulched (Key #2), adding organic materials (such as leaves and/or plant residue) to the top of the beds every year (Key #3), and not walking on the beds will help keep them ready to plant when you are.
Pull back the mulch and plant. You need not disturb the soil.
If for some reason you’re unable to do what’s necessary to prepare soil deeply:
Nature can prepare the bed for you. But it’ll take some time. (Close to a year; sometimes more.)
The current popular name for this is “no till”. There are many variations.
I have garden beds that have been prepared this way as have most of my flower borders. They give good results, but not as good as beds that were first deeply prepared.
Below are two posts that will help you learn more about my method of doing this. It’s extremely easy. Nothing is required but heavily mulching the ground and removing perennial weeds like wire grass as your ground softens. (If you use my cover cropping method, you’ll need seed for that crop.)
In spite of what various sources say, weeds like “wire grass” are NOT killed by mulch or anything else they tell you to use. You must remove the wire like rhizomes that creep along underground.
Although I was able to remove most of the wire grass (a/k/a Bermuda Grass) at the time my beds were prepared, the missed small pieces grew and showed up the following year. Thus, it took another two years to remove it all.
My 2,500 sq. ft garden is free of wire grass except where it tries to creep in through the fence at each end. (A great reason to dislike fences and not have one unless necessity dictates.)
If you can’t do what’s necessary to prepare your soil the way I recommend, do it the best way YOU can.
After that, as time allows, work on one bed. Prepare it as set forth in the book (and the post mentioned earlier). After completing the bed and seeing the difference in what it produces, it’ll encourage you to do more.
Don’t be concerned about being slow. Slow will still get the job done. Just keep working at it.
2nd Key – Mulching
The many benefits of mulching and various things you can use are explained in my book. There’s also information on what to avoid.
Thirty posts that address mulching are available to you on this website. Go here to choose ones you may want to read.
3rd Key – Adding Organic Materials
One of the main reasons conventional agriculture does not succeed is its failure to replenish the soil’s organic material. Plant residue is imperative for good crops and a healthy garden and nutrient dense produce. Chemicals cannot do the job nature can.
It’s interesting to read the findings of Richard Parnes, notable soil scientist, who ran a soil testing facility in Maine in the 80s. His specialty at the time was to offer recommendations for organic fertilizers. After many years he concluded that organic residues which contribute energy to the soil are far more important than anything else you might add.
Another Success Story
Loretta’s story is a great one. After reading and applying the information in my book she wrote: “everyone is amazed at my garden”. You can see her pictures and read her story here.
If you do a lot of weeding in your garden and think it’s the only way, you’ll relate to the comment Loretta left on that post. She writes: “One thing I was so shocked about was how little time it took to maintain the garden. I remember reading in Theresa’s book about how little time she spent weeding and maintaining her garden and I thought to myself…yeah right. She wasn’t kidding!”
Book Has Information Not Found Elsewhere
A reader from North Carolina noted there were several things in the book that he’d never seen covered in any other gardening book.
Still another reader writes, ” I am an avid gardener and collect gardening books. I’m finding your book contains a lot of unique and to the point information. —– “I started collecting gardening — books back in the early 80’s. —- Sadly there are way too many “cookie cutter” books out there written by those who simply copy from others. I get the feeling many times that some authors have little self experience. Your book stands out from many others in that you are writing from personal experience and that is one thing I really love about it.” (I first quoted him here.)
If you’re a seasoned gardener like this reader, the information in the book just may help you rethink some things and give you some ideas to make organic gardening even easier and more successful.
If you’re a new gardener you can avoid all the hype out there and learn the simple things really necessary for your success.
A Reader’s Recommendation if New Gardeners Can Have Only One Book
He writes: “After reading through your book twice I have to say it is one of the very best books on the subject I have ever read and I have read many. ——- If those starting out gardening could only have one book on the subject I would highly recommend yours.
You can read all of his letter here.
It was my plan to make Organic Gardening – Cutting Through the Hype to the 3 Keys to Successful Gardening easy to read. And it is!
It won’t take long to read it. And it’s an easy reference to refer to as you go along.
But it’s packed with great information that will help you be successful.
Take a look at the Table of Contents here.
Now’s the Time To Plan for Your Success in This Year’s Garden
Not satisfied with your results in the garden? Or maybe you’re new to organic gardening?
Give some thought to the 3 keys. My book will tell you all you need to know to get started.
Order now and I’ll get if off to you right away.
Spring is almost here. Wishing you a great year in the garden!
Post Published January 4, 2020
All content including photos are copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.
I really impressed with your information words. I want to make an organic garden in my home. However, can I purchase your book at Amazon?
Sorry Abraham. The book is not available through Amazon.
Theresa we’re just preparing to prepare our new beds so your post has come at just the right time and you make a very interesting point about adding organic materials to put back into the soil.
This article is very much informative . I didnt have the Idea that beds could be prepared this way.
Though at present, i dont have any possibility to do gardening on ground ( I only have a roof to grow my vegges) but i always look forward to start ground farming one day.
And moreover, its always good to gain knowledge.
Growing food is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves and it’s wonderful that you’re doing it on your roof top Suravi!
Keep up the good work!
I’d love to know what you grow.
Thomas, did you prepare your new beds? How did it go?