USDA hardiness zones map
by USDAgov

What is a hardy zone?

If you are a gardener, then you probably already know a little about the hardy zones. Understanding the USDA hard zones is an important step in getting the results you want with the plants that you choose to grow. In order to help gardeners and farmers learn which crops work best in their areas, the USDA has set out growing zones and assigned them to each area of the United States. Those areas are grouped with like weather and climate for the best growing results.

Take a look at the USDA hardy zone map.

This map shows us that there are eleven different zones in the United States. Each different zone represents ten degrees warmer or colder than the neighboring zone. When you look at the map, you can pinpoint where you live and find out which zone you live in.

How does the zone help your garden?

Any avid gardener will tell you that your zone can certainly make a big difference in the success of your gardening. Planting the wrong plants in your zone, or planting them at the wrong time of the year can lead to not so good results with your gardening.

If you always stick to plants that are labeled for your zone, you will surely find success with your garden. In fact, the USDA hardy zone is accepted across the United States and most plants and seeds that you buy will have planting instructions listed for each zone or will at least tell you if that plant is recommended for your zone. Depending on where you live, you can find plants that will do very well when planted correctly.

Other information according to the hardy zone.

There is a lot of other information that the hardy zone will tell you. A lot of research goes into coming up with the hardy zone. Researchers look at the climate and temperature of each area, but they also look at rainfall year-round. By looking and using the hardy zone map, you will also be able to obtain other information such as the lowest and highest temperature for each season in your area. This type of information is very important when you are dealing with gardening and planting crops and other plants.

Find your hardiness zone by zip code or by state, just click here.

Looking at the hardy map.

By looking at the hardy zone map, you will see that the areas that are colored are not always the same even from city to city or within the state. The temperature will vary where you live. You should also know that this zone map gives you a quite simplistic view of gardening and a good place to get started. As you well know, the temperature of your area could certainly change and fluctuate and you never want to depend solely on this map when planting. You will also need to use good common sense.

I thought this video would help explain the benefits of understanding what zone you are in and then what is best for your flowers, vegetables and trees.

Related How To article: How to Understanding Plant Hardiness Zones

List of Beneficial Insects- And What They Do

lady bug
Just one among thousands that help us garden

Here is a list of the most common beneficial insects that I know of. Getting to know these insects is a must if you are actively taking care of your garden, lawn, and flower beds. Just like any other form of life, there are good and bad insects. The bad like grasshoppers and aphids will totally destroy anything you plant and it is a good idea to know what is destroying those plants. The beneficial insects are ladybugs and dragonflies which live on the bad insects. So we need to be able to identify the good, bad, and the ugly(whoops that’s me). Through experience and making a few mistakes we can keep those roses, apple trees, and blackberries flourishing, but we have to know what we are doing. This page is not everything you need to know but a teaser to get you started thinking about what happens when you go out and spray those bugs. By the way, there are natural ways to get rid of those bad insects and most will leave the good guys alone.


  • Prey on many insects which are captured in their pits of 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
Antlion larva
by Jonathan Numer
  • Similar to dragonflies but are fragile and poor fliers


  • Adults are about 1/16 inch long, a very small fly
  • Almost entirely feeds on aphids
  • The females lay 100 to 200 eggs near aphid colonies where the larvae will eat their way to adulthood


  • May be confused with the squash bug
  • A voracious predator of flies, mosquitos, beetles and large caterpillars
  • This beneficial insect is about 1/2 inch long with a narrow elongated head
  • Assassin bugs range from brownish green to dark brown


  • Used in commercial mosquito dunks placed in water and eaten by mosquitos


  • Noted as beneficial insect hawks because they pounce many pests including crane flies and other flies
  • They are excellent pollinators
  • They resemble yellow jackets but are a little bit larger–up to 3/4 inch long
  • Have extra large heads with black and white markings, wings extend to the end of their abdomen
  • For more information, please enjoy my VIDEO.


  • This beneficial insect feeds mainly on caterpillars, aphids, mites, chinch bugs and other pests and their eggs
  • Found on soil surface preying on many small insects
  • Bigeyed bugs are small 1/8 to 1/4 inches
  • Have very large eyes and clear wings, black and silver in color
  • Bodies are stout and somewhat flat


  • Resemble the Ichneumonid wasps but braconid are more stout and are black
Braconid Wasp
Tomato Hornworm Parasitized by Braconid Wasp
  • They parasitize many different insects like aphids, caterpillars, weevil larvae, flies, true bugs, sawflies and other larvae
  • Over 1700 species in North America


  • Noted for being great pollinators
  • These beneficial insects are about 1 inch in length and are black and yellow
bumble bee
  • A queen bee can lay 8 to 12 eggs in nests in the ground, empty mouse burrows and discarded mattresses


  • Have 1 leg per segment and are usually brown to black
  • Can be 1/2 to 3 inches in length
Long-legged Centipede
  • This beneficial insect feeds on slugs, worms and fly pupae


  • 1 to 2 inches in length and are similar to dragonflies
  • Feeds on small insects like flies, mosquitos, gnats and aphids
a young female Common Blue Damselfly
  • Usually work from May to November and overwinters as immatures


  • 18 to 5 inches in length and are similar to damsel flies
  • Feeds on small insects like flies, mosquitos, gnats and aphids
  • Usually works from May to October and overwinters as immatures
Dragonflies are found on every continent except Antarctica
  • Their color is brown to blue
  • Found in and around water where they wait for their main food mosquitos
  • Both nymph and adult are vicous on many insects


  • Feeds mainly on slugs and brown garden snails
  • Will also eat old leaf mulch but not live plants
a European species that has been introduced in a number of areas worldwide.
  • This snail works at night and attacking the eggs of snails and slugs
  • Once established should not have to worry about these pests again


  • They are gnat size burrowing insects
3 different species: Spalangia cameroni, Muscidifurax zaraptor and Muscidifurax raptorellus.
  • These predators serve as a leading check of fly groups by killing flies in the early maggot and pupa stages
  • Have no affect on humans and horses-only manure breeding pest flies


  • Possibly 2500 species in North America
  • Feed mainly on root maggots and cutworms and other soil inhabiting pests
  • A few types will eat snails and slugs
Carabidae Caminara Starred ground beetle
  • They are usually black and shiny, may also have a metallic sheen on wing covers
  • Hard to find because they hunt at night and then hide under yard debris


  • The larvae feed on aphids, mealybugs and other small insects
  • They are about 1/2 inch long
Hoverflies mating
  • They hover(like a helicopter) and dart about making a loud buzzing sound
  • Bodies are like bees yellow or white and black
  • Adults are excellent pollinators because they must feed on nectar before they can reproduce


  • These wasps are from 1/10 to 1 1/2 inches in length
  • Bodies have long abdomens and are usually brownish black or red and black
parasitic in caterpillars and other insect larvae
  • They are good pollinators but feed mainly on caterpillars, beetle larvae and othe soft bodied insects
  • A large group with over 3100 species just in North America
  • Lay their eggs in host insects


  • May be found inside the house during the fall and winter-won’t hurt anything
  • Lacewings are brown or green
it is difficult to establish and maintain populations in fields of crops
  • The larvae are also known as aphid lions, attacking the eggs and young stages of pests like spider mites, aphids, thrips, sweet
    potato whiteflies, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and eggs of most pest moths
  • Grow to about 3/8 inch
  • Use with Trichogramma wasps for a very effective treatment of these insects


  • Shaped like a volkswagen with bright red or yellow body with black, red, white or yellow spots.
  • It may be confused with the Japanese Beetle
Ladybug, 7-Spot Lady Beetle, Ladybird, Lady Beetle
  • Feeds on aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects
  • Don’t be surprised to find in the house over fall and winter
  • During their life span one ladybug may consume as many as 2400 aphids
  • In the female’s short life she may lay up to 500 eggs
  • Probably the most used beneficial insect


  • Are long legged compared to small bodies and hence their names
  • Over 1200 species in North America
a large, cosmopolitan family of true flies with more than 7,000 described species
  • They are colorful insects with metallic green, copper or blue in color
  • They are predators of mainly aphids and spider mites


  • These flies are beneficial bugs that are slender, yellow brown in color with red eyes
  • Have long antennae and spotted wings
Marsh Fly
this one found in Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  • They are pollinators and prey on small snails


  • They are active pollinators between apple blossom and cherry blossom season
  • Mason bees look like house flies than honey bees and are smaller
Blue Mason-bee female – Osmia caerulescens
  • They are a dark blue black with no stripes


  • As the name implies loves mealybugs, both adult and larvae

  • They will lay their eggs in a mealybug egg mass letting the new larvae feed on immature mealybugs


  • Feeds mainly on spider mites, caterpillars, thrips and other insects and their eggs
  • Adults are about 1/4 inch long
minute pirate bug
also known as flower bugs
  • Bodies are silver and black with the tips of their wings are black resembling a pirate flag, hence the name
  • These bugs are excellent hunters and will kill more than they can eat


  • A single-celled protozoan destroys over ninety species of locusts, grasshoppers and several species of crickets
  • Not harmful to mankind, farm animal and pets
  • Is able of breeding through invasion of grasshoppers, had better cycle itself if vermins are present


  • These wasps are so small that you will not even notice them, less than 1/8 inch
  • 1600 species in North America
 Parasitic Wasps
Mating pair of Parasitic Wasps
  • The many different species will eat aphids, whiteflies, butterflies or moths, leafminers, scales, cabbage loopers and hornworms


  • Praying Mantises will eat insects and other invertebrates such as other praying mantises, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders,
    butterflies, and beetles
 praying mantis
South African praying mantis eating a fly
  • Also eat vertebrates such as lizards, mice, tree frogs, hummingbirds
  • Know by Praying Mantis, Praying Mantids or Praying Mantises
  • At least 2,000 species of Praying Mantis and are carnivorous insects
  • Camouflage is very important to these insects. Most are pea green or brown but may be light green to pink
  • Only insect that can turn it’s head 180 degrees side to side
  • The female will lay anywhere from 12 to 400 eggs usually in the fall of the year


  • Adults are about 0.002 inches in length
  • Are beige to reddish tan in color


  • They can consume up 5 to 10 spider mites and citrus mites or 20 eggs a day


  • Feeds on soil living insects, mites, fungus gnat and all stages of springtails
  • They are very small- 1/20 inch


  • Larvae prey on other insect larvae as they grow up in the soil or damp wood
  • Adults feed on grasshoppers, leafhoppers, wasps, dragonflies, beetles, bees, other flies, and many other insects
  • Sizes are about 3/8 to 1 1/8 inch
Robber fly
Robber fly with a prey
  • They are hairy bodied with a long tapering abdomen that are segmented, are usually gray to black
  • Their legs are strong, make for easy grabbing of their prey


  • Feed mainly on aphids, mites, nematodes, slugs, snails and flies
  • Range in size from 1/10 to 1 inch
Rove beetle
Most rove beetles are predators of insects and other invertebrates, living in forest leaf litter and similar decaying plant matter.
  • These black or brown beetles have wings that are short
  • They also aid in the breakdown of organic matter


  • These beetles feed on cucumber beetles, aphids, caterpillars, grasshopper eggs and other insects and their eggs
  • Soldier beetles are a slender, elongated, relatively flat insects
  • Range from 1/3 to 1/2 inches long
Soldier Beetles
also known commonly as leatherwings
  • Some species will have bright colors or markings in their back but mainly brown to black in color
  • Larvae are flat with a velvety appearance


  • Are sometimes confused with stink bugs which are real garden pests
  • These bugs feed on pest varieties of caterpillars and beetle larvae
Spined soldier bug
a species of insect common in North America.
  • They are usually about 1/2 inch long


  • Some weave webs and some don’t catch their prey
Yellow Garden Spider
North American species of garden spider
  • In North America, only the Brown Recluse and Black Widow are considered harmful to man


  • Look like house flies and are one third to one half inch long
  • They may be gray, black or brown in color
Tachinid fly
commonly are called tachina flies or simply tachinids
  • They are marauders of harmful caterpillars including codling moths, cutworms, gypsy moth larvae, tent caterpillars and cabbage


  • With a wingspread of 1/50th of an inch, is among smallest of insects
  • A favorite to use around crops like cotton, corn, tomatoes, avocados, walnuts, pecans, apples and alfalfa
  • They go after the larvae stages of both moths and butterflies which eat foliage off the plants


  • They are beneficial as a predator of caterpillars, flies and beetle grubs
  • Adult yellow jackets are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length
Often confused with bees, yellow jackets are much more aggressive
  • Their sting is feared for good reason because of allergic reactions

10 Beneficial Insects You Want in the Garden video that is only 6:54 minutes.

Related How To article: How to Identify an Insect

Compost Is Mother Nature’s Decomposed Materials

Shows an active compost steaming and decomposing
Shows an active compost steaming and decomposing

Compost is considered the black gold of organic gardening. It is a major requirement for having a healthy environment and doing our part to feed our soil. Since 1992 in Minnesota you are not allowed to put yard trimmings and tree waste into the garbage. For the rest of us in the USA, it is predicted that 1/6th of landfill material can go into our compost pile. By composting you will answer the question ‘where does compost come from?’ You can change wastes, yard trimmings, leaves, and a huge amount of kitchen scraps into a dark fine mixture that can be applied to make better the soil and cut back the use of fertilizer and water. Best of all, the actual real work is performed by mother nature in the decomposing. She has been doing this for thousands of years. Let us take a couple of moments to see what makes composting succeed and build a simple compost pile.


worms just love to eat up all the ingredients added to a compost pile.
Bacteria are found in all kinds of organic matter(compost). They do the primary breakdown of materials without having to put them to work. Naturally, they live and reproduce on their own and flourish under the proper conditions. Nonbacterial workers like worms, fungi, and many invertebrates will work in your compost pile for just food and board. Some will feed on the actual material and others will eat on the bacteria but the natural chain will work together and put out a finished product unmatched. You can even compost rotting apples. Compost horse manure or even add fresh grass clippings to manure compost.


fresh grass clippings
rake up the fresh grass clippings and add to compost pile
The greens like green leaves, coffee grounds, plant trimmings, fresh grass clippings, raw fruit and vegetable scraps are items to put in compost pile that will provide nitrogen and protein for the microbes hard at work in the pile.

The browns like dried grasses, straw, wood chips, twigs, branches, sawdust, shredded newspaper, corncobs, and cornstalks provide carbon and energy for the microbes. Microbes are living things they need water and air. Turning your pile every 2 weeks will allow aeration to aid the decomposition. NOTE: I suggest that two smaller side by side bins be used in order to ease the task of turning. Turn from one to the other.


compost pile structure
This does not need anything fancy. Keep it simple

To see what this person did to build a compost bin out of pallets.

1. Keep it simple.

Inexpensive materials like old pallets, snow fence, or chicken wire with poles can be used for homemade composting bins. Cheaper yet is just make a simple pile without a frame. The bins though will have a compost aeration design for better aeration, retain heat, and better looking. The result is aeration compost systems. As far as size goes if we stay at about 1 cubic yard (3 ft. high x 3 ft. long x 3 ft. wide), we will get the heat necessary and retain the moisture. This size is easy to turn as well.

2. What to add?

keep pile moist
keep pile moist not soaked
Even if you only have grass clippings and leaves this is enough to decompose. Don’t worry about not having enough at the start. When items become available, add them. Water sparingly but don’t forget to water. If too wet just turn the pile to another bin to dry. Rain, fresh grass clippings are 70% water, will provide the moisture. You will find that smaller items decompose faster so shred and use compost chippers if possible. When building layers with greens and browns you are building with nitrogen and carbon layers. How to prepare a compost pile is started here. Start that bin with a layer of twigs or coarse items to provide air circulation.

3. Turn the pile.

compost and pitchfork
Turn your compost pile often
Take a pitchfork to turn the compost after the first week, don’t be afraid to add greens and browns to pile at any time. Repeat the turning until you see materials that are dark and crumbly, earthy smelling, and does not look anything like what you put in the bin in the first place. Make  yourself a compost tumbler.



black gold, compost dirt
Composting within agricultural systems capitalizes upon the natural services of nutrient recycling in ecosystems. Bacteria, fungi, insects, earthworms
Your finished product-compost is not a fertilizer but is full of nutrients that will enrich anywhere you put it. This is showing the effect of compost enhancement. Use it in your vegetable garden, lawn, potted plants, and flower garden. Compost will add that much-needed drainage capability to the soil. Add over rocky areas to provide a growing media. You have just created the richest soil anywhere.

The Happy DIY Home Staff has put together another interesting page to show their opinion about compost making here at How to Make Compost. Give it a look.

Related How To article: How to Compost

Related How To article: How to Use Your Compost

Organic Gardening Glossary

This organic gardening glossary will give you a little idea of the substance of some organic gardening words but not all terms related to organic fertilizers or gardening. The words were not gathered from the dictionary but by a common man’s explanation of the words with the aid of organic experts from around the United States.

Acid soil— Soils with a 7 pH and below. Also called sour soil.

Actinomycetes— A fungus-like soil microorganism required in the decay of organic matter like everyday mushrooms.

Aeration— A manual act of putting holes in the soil to permit air and gases to be interchanged.

Aerobic— an organism that can live and grow in an oxygenized surroundings.

Alfalfa Meal— A natural growth stimulant made from alfalfa. Fast-acting. NPK 2.5-0.2-2

Alkaline Soil— Soil with a 7 pH and above, aka sweet soil.

Amino Acids— The main ingredients of protein. They are made up mainly of nitrogen and carbohydrates.

Anaerobic— Living or active in the lack of free oxygen. An organism that does not need oxygen for growth. It may react in a negative way or even die if oxygen is introduced.

Annual— A plant that will live for one season due to either weather or its natural cycle.

Bacillus Thuringiensis— A biological soil-dwelling bacterium that specifically targets caterpillars and other pesty insects.

Bacteria— Used in composting to produce the heat-related in hot composting. There are 3 types: thermophilic, psychrophilic and mesophyllic.

Bat Guano-– Discharging waste matter from bats that are used as a fertilizer. That is bat manure.

Beneficial Insect— are often called beneficial bugs and are any of a number of species of insects that do important services like pollination and pest control.

Biennial— A plant that takes 2 years to finish its life cycle and produce seed.

Bio-Solids— a precipitate made by sewage treatment by-products and are made when wastewater and sewage are processed to reduce disease-producing agents, also to break organic matter down into their more basic forms.

Biodegradable— Having capacity or the ability to be decomposed by, for example, bacteria.

Biological Pest Control— is a method of controlling pests such as weeds and plant diseases, also insects, mites, using other organisms, but generally also involves a human involvement.

Black Spot— A disease caused by a fungus which for the most part has an effect upon the foliage of roses. It will be worse in wet weather.

Blood Meal— A dry organic fertilizer made from blood. The analysis will be around NPK 11-0-0.

Bone Meal— Made from cooked bones worked to a meal. Steamed bone meal. Phosphorus is the main nutrient, NPK is 1-11-0.

Borax— Borax contains about 11% boron. Used in fertilizer as a source of the boron, a plant food element.

Cane Borer— An insect larva that burrows and feeds on the core stem of plants like roses.

Chelated— A compound that minerals are often changed prior to their use as soil additives and fertilizers.

Chlorosis— A condition occurring when a plant shows a deficiency of chlorophyll. Leaves become yellowish while the veins remain dark green. For the most part, caused by too much water or lack of iron.

Cold Frame— is a see-through roofed structure, built low to the ground, used to guard plants against adverse weather, mainly beyond normal limits of cold or wet.

Colloidal Phosphate(soft) — also known as colloidal phosphate is a clay substance that is mined from the old settling basins of former hard phosphate rock mining operations in and around Florida. NPK 0-2-0. The Best choice for alkaline soil and is faster releasing than rock phosphate.

Companion Planting— used in gardening and agriculture and is the planting of assorted crops in pollination, pest control. It provides living space for beneficial creatures, giving the utmost use of space, and to increase crop production.

Compost— Decomposed organic material made to enrich the soil. Totally decayed matter.

Composted manure— Animal manure, like cow manure, that has been naturally composted and has killed pathogens and weed seed by this process.

Cottonseed Meal— Fertilizer meal made from ground cottonseed. NPK 6-2-1. Best put into a compost pile and made a pass through that process prior to using it.

Cover Crop— is a crop planted primarily to control soil erosion, soil fertility, soil quality, water, weeds, pests, diseases, and wildlife.

Crop Rotation-– is the way of operation of growing a group of unlike or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It is done so that the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. It assists in reducing soil erosion and enhances soil fertility and crop production.

Cultivar— A variety of a plant amended from a natural species and held under development.

Dead Heading— pruning dead or dying flowers to promote further blooms by halting the laying of seeds.

Diatomaceous Earth— An talc-like dust from skeletal remains of various small, single-celled algae with cell walls comprising chiefly of silica. Used as an insecticide and food supplement.

Direct Seed-– To sow seed straight into the soil rather than starting in shallow box or pot in which seedlings are started.

Dolomite— Made from dolomitic limestone, that has both magnesium carbonate and calcium carbonate, by a process of grinding. Added to soils deficient of these minerals.

Double Digging— is a gardening method used to increase soil drainage and aeration. It calls for the loosening of two layers of soil, generally done when preparing the soil in a new garden, or when deep top-soil is wanted.

Earthworm Castings— Earthworm fecal matter high in nutrients. One of the best organic fertilizers.

Epsom Salts— Hydrated magnesium sulfate. It is used as a fast-acting source of magnesium and sulfur generally used as a soil amendment.

Fertilizer— Any material such as manure or a mixture of organic nitrates, in this case, used to get soil more fertile

Fish Emulsion— A liquid fertilizer made from fish. NPK 10.5-6-0. If used with liquid seaweed it will make one great all-around fertilizer.

Foliage-– A term that refers to the leaves of a plant.

Foliar Spray— Liquid solution of fertilizers sprayed on the leaves and is rapidly consumed and used right away by the plant.

Garden Fertilizer— A fertilizer specifically developed for the growing garden. Lucky for us organic fertilizers do not need any special formula.

Germination— When a seed or spore sprouts.

Granite Sand— decayed or ground-up granite rock. It contains silica and 19 trace minerals. It has 1% to 4% of total potash.

Grass Fertilizer— The same as lawn fertilizer. Feeding the grass is the same as feeding the soil and plants.

Green Manure— A cover crop, such as ryegrass and clover used to protect the soil, hold nutrients and augment the soil fertility or organic matter.

Greensand— A deposit called glauconite that is naturally found undersea. It’s an awesome source of potash. Add as an iron supplement.

Guano–Manure of bats and birds that are used for fertilizer purposes.

Gypsum— Calcium sulfate, a mineral used in fertilizer as a source of calcium and sulfur. Also used to improve alkaline soils holding a high sodium content.

Hay-– Grass or clover that is cut while still green and used as fodder or mulch.

Hardening Off— The process of gradually exposing plants to cooler and adverse growing conditions to increase their chances of surviving when planted out of doors.

Hardy— A plant that will survive the normal temperature range in a given area.

Herbicide— A product used for weed control.

Humus— Soil or organic matter that has broken down, it smells like the forest floor. 3% to 5% of this organic matter should be found in healthy soil. It is a slow-release form of food for microorganisms.

Hydrogen Peroxide 3%— An oxygenating compound used for soil conditioning and bacteria-fighting.

Hydromulching— A method of seeding that uses seed, fertilizer, and mulch in a solution sprayed on the soil surface to grow.

Inorganic— Made from a source that was never alive now or in the past.

Insecticide— Product used to control insects.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)— also known as integrated pest control (IPC) is a broad-based movement that unites practices for economic control

Kelp— Any of a variety of brown seaweeds, ground up, used to enrich the soil. NPK 1-0.5-2.5.

Lawn Fertilizer— A fertilizer set up to feed the lawn(grass) and the soil that it grows in.

Leaching— The gradual loss of minerals from soil from the action of water.

Liquid Fertilizer— A fertilizer in liquid form that is broadcast by a sprayer.

Loam— The ideal type of soil(earth) which is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt. With the addition of organic material will make it perfect.

Macro-nutrients— Essentials needed for all plants in large quantities. Included are NPK, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium.

Magnesium Sulfate— A soluble salt used as a source of magnesium like epsom salts.

Micro-nutrients— Essentials needed for all plants include iron, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, cobalt and zinc.

Microorganisms— They are bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, algae, protozoa, beneficial nematodes and yeast which exist to breakdown organic matter into mineral elements.

Minerals— They provide the food and nutrients for plants and microorganisms. They are the basic form of organic matter.

Mulch— A covering or blanket, normally organic or inorganic, laid on the soil around the base of plants to cut back erosion, control weeds, constant moisture and provide insulation to the soil in extremely hot or cold weather.

N-P-K— Initials for Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash.

No-Till Gardening— is a non-cultivation method used by some organic gardeners, is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil.

Open Pollination— Transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a plant, when the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety.

Organic— Material which is either plant or animal in origin, simple and healthful and close to nature.

Organic Gardening— the art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by abiding by the important principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management and heirloom variety preservation.

Peat— Partly decomposed moss plant which grows in moist areas in the north.

Perennial— A plant that grows year after year as are most trees, shrubs, grasses, and some smaller plants.

pH— The measurement of the acidity and alkalinity of a material. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. 0-7 indicate acidity, 7-14 indicate alkalinity.

Phosphate— The fertilizer form of phosphorus. Usually considered the actual bloom of the flower producing mineral.

Potash— Usually made from wood ashes. One of the three main minerals in fertilizer. A term used to signify potassium.

Potassium Magnesium Sulfate— Also called Sul-Po-Mag and langbeinite. Mined mainly in New Mexico and some European countries. Use in areas that lack these minerals.

Protozoa— One-celled microscopic animals required to help decompose organic matter.

Rhizome— A horizontal plant stem with shoots above and roots below working as a reproductive structure

Rock powders— The most common rock powders are limestone, rock phosphate, granite dust, greensand, langbeinite, and basalt. They have fertilizing qualities and most useful in acid soils.

Root Rot— A disease caused by a fungus that attacks the root system of plants. Caused by incorrect moisture conditions.

Root Stimulator— A solution high in phosphorus fertilizer and a rooting hormone used to increase the root growth.

Seaweed— Saltwater plants used for fertilizer. Combined with fish emulsion can provide the best complete organic fertilizer.

Secondary Elements— Plant food elements such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. All needed for healthy soil and plants.

Soil— Primarily clay, sand, silt, organic matter, and living organisms making the top layer of earth’s crust.

Soil Acidifier— A material used to make the soil more acid.

Soil Amendment— Different from fertilizer by law. The matter that makes the soil healthier by activating microorganisms, balance pH, and add nutrients while balancing them.

Soil Conditioner— A material that is added to the soil to enrich its content.

Soil Test— Test done to estimate the soil-available concentrations of plant nutrients, in order to find out the type of fertilizer needed.

Sul-Po-Mag— Mined material consisting of sulfur, potassium, and magnesium. Only apply when soil analysis shows it lacking these minerals.

Tilth— a state of the grouping of soil and its condition for supporting plant growth.

Top Dressing or Side Dressing— Adding soil conditioners or fertilizer to the surface of the soil around plants.

Transplanting— an act of removing a plant from one region and introducing it in another region.

Vermiculite— A spongy soil conditioner frequently used to lighten clay soils. It may also be used as a propagating conditioner.

Vermiculture— The use of worms to eat newspapers and food scraps to make nutrient-rich castings.

Weeds— A plant growing in a place where it is not desirable. Any plant can be a weed to different people.

Wood Ashes— NPK 0-1.5-8. Will increase the pH of soil. It should not be used in one area more than every 3-4 years.

Xeriscaping— is gardening and landscaping that cuts down or does away with the supply of water from adding to dry land with water by means of ditches etc.

Be sure to check out the organic products that I believe to be the best anywhere.

The Wonderful World of Organic Gardening

Organic Garden

A place where your harvest is safe


Organic Gardening Data will explain and show how organic gardens will be set up and maintained for maximum production. If you would like to have a healthy vegetable garden, the greenest lawn in the neighborhood, and the most gorgeous flowers anybody has seen. Then you have come to the right place. My objective here is put you on to the correct and safest way possible to achieve your goals in organic gardening.

Your Soil

humus Rich soil
Rich soil is good because it has nutrients. If the plant gets nutrients the plant will grow.Photo by Tess Watson

Learn to improve your soil’s quality, get the correct nutrients for healthy plants of all kinds. For example, use molasses in the soil to feed the beneficial microorganisms. To have extra green plants try seaweed that will stimulate their roots and add much-needed nutrients. These are a must-have in organic gardening.

Organic Fertilizers

Medina organic fertilizer growin green
One of the best products on the market for organic gardening

How to use and when to apply organic fertilizers. Apply seaweed once a month as a supplement. Honey or molasses can be applied anytime to feed the microbes.

USDA hardiness zones map
by USDAgov

When to Plant
Would you like to know when to plant your gardens? A hardiness zone map and appropriate dates for first and last frost in your area. Small things like this are a surefire step to obtain that perfect garden and lawn.


I have put together an organic gardening glossary to explain what each garden term means. This is my compilation of terms.


solutions for all pest control
man spraying a pesticide on some plants in his garden

Remedies to take care of those nasty weeds, insects, and diseases. Funny how weeds seem to grow better than the gardens.

Cook Book

measuring cup follow dilution instructions
be sure to follow dilution instructions from the manufacture.

Like a cookbook, we have put in here to help follow those directions on labels with rate dilutions, rate charts, and rate comparisons.

Fertilizer List

Now you will find out what some of the common organic fertilizers are and what their function is. Examples are bone meal, greensand and fish emulsion.

That’s not all, there is so much more to learn here.

Best of all

a happy organic farmer
smiles from a happy organic gardener

Have a good time going through all this data that will make you a more savvy gardener. Good Luck!

How To Grow a FULLY Organic Vegetable Garden–video.

About James

james-ellisonThank you for viewing my website about the right way to garden. I hope you will take away a lot of information that will help you change to organic gardening.


Growing up in Ohio and having a family that believed in gardening to raise fruits and vegetables, I was destined to do the same after I was an adult.


To let you know, I am as, of 2017, 75 years old. You can see that many years have passed since growing up in Ohio. Moving around the world in the Army I was exposed to many types of gardening techniques and by choice, I listened to a lot of garden gurus.

Finally. When I retired from the Army I settled down in San Antonio, Texas. Luckily for me, here in this city were some gardeners that chose organics to excel in and best of all they shared their knowledge with everyone here.

With the help of these experts, I became extremely involved in learning about organic gardening. Under their wings, I began to benefit from their teachings.


I am trying to contribute to the website what I have learned over the many years of gardening OJT(on the job training) so others can benefit.


If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

James Ellison