While most of us today are aware of the dangers of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, another problem with fruits and vegetables from the supermarket is that they probably only contain a fraction of the nutrients that they should and don’t taste like my home-grown veggies. Why is this happening?
Modern commercial agriculture is often more concerned with how well a vegetable can stand up to mechanical harvesting, or whether it will be able to resist herbicides than with how many vitamins and minerals it contains. If you are concerned not only about chemical residues, but also about getting the best nutrition possible for your family, the answer is to grow your own.
Size Doesn’t Always Matter
It is not necessary to have a huge garden or dozens of acres to grow a garden, even a small plot can provide a surprisingly large amount of tasty, fresh produce. Growing your garden organically means that you will be using nothing artificial or harmful – everything that goes on your garden soil or the plants in it will be completely natural and organic.
As someone who has grown organically for years, I can tell you that it is not hard to get away from chemicals and still get in a good harvest. Not only that, but you will not have to worry about bacterial contamination on vegetables that will be eaten raw, like lettuce. I was also astounded, after years of supermarket foods, to find out how delicious fresh organic vegetables actually are!
We Love Our Compost Bin
One of the first things most organic gardeners learn about is composting. Composting is a way to turn kitchen scraps such as parings from fruits and vegetables, tea bags, and eggshells into a nutrient-rich addition for the soil. The most efficient way to produce compost is by using a compost bin.
These bins usually add a bacterial starter to get the process of breaking down the vegetative matter started. The leaves that clutter up our gardens in the autumn also can be tossed into the compost bin. Compost will not only add nutrients to the soil, it also prevents the soil from becoming compacted, making it easier for plant roots to grow.
Raised Bed Gardens
A very good space saving way to garden is to use intensive gardening. This calls for the use of raised beds which warm the soil up faster in spring, and this helps to extend your growing season.
When using intensive gardening, it is possible to control the quality of your soil more effectively than with a regular garden bed.
After making the framework, you will need to fill it in with soil. This is your chance to add manure, compost, and wood ashes to your basic soil to provide your plants with the best growing medium possible. Because the soil will be so rich, this method allows you to pack the plants in more closely, and also to grow plants on trellises above the main crop.
Pests can be a problem in any garden, but will not usually have a serious impact on your harvest. However, we have found that slugs can do an immense amount of damage – they can eat seedlings to the ground and can cause quite a loss.
There are organic solutions, that we have used, that do control slugs and other pest insects, while leaving the beneficial insects alone. Diatomaceous earth is truly the gardener’s best friend. This is made up of the skeletons of fossil diatoms and is very effective at getting rid of not only slugs, but flea beetles, potato bugs, and cabbage moth caterpillars. It is totally safe for humans and pets.
Another good product is one that relies on iron to disrupt the slug’s metabolism, and we have used this, too. Beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantis, and lacewings also do a very good job at keeping your food plants safe.
Row covers are another way to keep pests off your vegetables, as well as being an excellent way to garden when early or late frosts can be a problem.
When deciding what to plant in your garden, stay with vegetables that your family enjoys most. It is also possible to get a head start on the planting season by starting some seeds indoors. Almost every vegetable that you will want to grow can be started inside. Tomatoes and eggplants, of course, will need the extra time, but we have found that summer and winter squash, lettuce, and even corn will be happy to start life in a peat pot. Not only will the strong seedlings be better able to resist pests and diseases, you will also be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour’s earlier.