Organic gardening.

Last week we talked about organic gardening and the effect soil has on vegies.  Today I want to look at seeds and pest prevention.

hydroponic

Seeds

Once you have prepared your soil, it’s important to know a bit about seeds before you start growing your own vegetables. There are usually different varieties of seeds for each type of plant, each with its own characteristics. For example, the common tomato plant has hundreds of varieties.

Some varieties will do better in different conditions, such as being sun hardy, shade tolerant or drought resistant. You can also divide seeds by type. There are heirloom seeds, which are really perfect to use in an organic garden as the seed from the plants that are grown can be used to plant your garden the following year. This is really the most sustainable and natural of all seed planting practices.

There are also hybrid plants that are the result of selective breeding practices. Hybrids may be more tolerant to certain poor conditions but the seed cannot be saved from the plants and planted the following year as each generation will be weaker than the one before it.

In some countries there are GMO or genetically modified seeds, that feature a seed that has been cloned with a different species to make it pest resistant, but these seeds are not “natural” and really defeat the purpose of organic gardening.

Pests

Organic gardening takes advantage of many strategies, such as companion gardening, to help deter pests in the garden. You can conduct a simple search about companion gardening online, and discover which plants “like” to be planted next to each other. For example, certain flowers planted in a border around your garden will deter certain bugs that might eat the vegetables, and certain plants fix certain nutrients or release other natural substances in the ground as they grow and can help an entirely different species of plant to grow better.

Common examples are the practice of planting varieties of squash with corn and beans or planting onions next to your potatoes, dill next to your tomatoes, garlic in your rose beds and carrots near your peas.  You will also want to learn about natural remedies for common ailments such as blight, mould or mildew and other natural solutions that can be made at home to help keep pests from attacking your vegies.

While it’s a bit more involved than gardening with man-made chemicals, it is really much easier than it sounds. Once you set down to enjoy the different, delicious taste and texture provided by organic vegies, and know that you are putting something into your body that you helped to create, that is free of dangerous chemicals and was grown in such a way as to help improve the Earth, you will realize it was well worth your time and efforts.

Organic Vegies Are Delicious

hydroponicThere is nothing more rewarding that sitting down to the dinner table to enjoy a meal made from the fruits and vegetables that you’ve grown in your own garden. Living on our farm with its abundance of good soil and animals that help to provide a source for natural fertilizer, it really was not a huge leap for us to embrace organic gardening practices.

Organic gardening is an important part of adopting a more sustainable lifestyle for our family and the planet. Growing one’s own organic vegetables takes both perseverance and planning. Today and next week I want to show you some things to keep in mind as you are planning your organic vegie garden.

Let’s take a look at our soil.

It’s important to know the quality of your soil before you begin your garden. There are simple home test kits that can test your soil. If your soil is either too acidic or too alkaline, you will want to adjust your soil with natural materials and natural fertilizers to improve its quality before you start planting. If you live on a farm with a lot of animals as we do, you will have an almost unlimited supply of natural fertilizer for your organic garden, but it is also possible to obtain natural fertilizers from other farmers with animals or even some stores.

Of course, not all organic farming methods use soil, but if you have a large amount of farm land, soil is usually one of the easiest ways to grow organic vegies.

We have had people from all over commenting on our organically growing vegies.  They have asked lots of questions about our setup here. At last year’s Whittlesea Show there was an awesome set up which was a hydroponic vegies garden with goldfish in the base of it and the water from the goldfish is recycled with the vegies growing in pebbles. Of course you would have to top up the water level, but it was a different way without chemicals.

This image comes from Pinterest and if you pop over to that page you will find some other clever ideas for hydroponic and aquaponic gardens.

In our next post I will tell you more about organic gardening.  Chat then.

Growing your own vegies.

Have you ever stood at a garden bed on a warm summer’s eve, after a long hot day, with a hose (from your water tank of course!) or a watering can and experienced the meditation of watering your crop?

Growing your own vegetables and herbs is not only great for your wallet but also the environment, your health, as well as teaching the kids about the circle of life. Food doesn’t come from a supermarket!

There is something extra special about a salad prepared from the spoils of your own vegetable garden. And a delicious pasta or curry tastes so much better when the herbs were picked only minutes earlier.

Whether you have a balcony, a courtyard or a standard residential block you can still have a go at growing your own produce. Vegetables can be grown in floor or hanging pots, small garden beds, or you can go the whole hog and plant enough to service the whole family’s needs if you have the space. Better to start small though, but don’t be surprised if you get addicted to the taste and the satisfaction of eating vegetables fresher than you can source anywhere else.

We’re lucky to have lots of room in which to plant.  We’ve just planted some vegies so we’ll let you know how well they grow.  (We just need to keep the kangaroos out of them!)

Start by working out what crops are suitable to be planted in your area and when, decide what you think you would enjoy growing and eating and how much space you need and can spare. There is no point growing chillies for example if no one in the household likes them! And some creeping plants like pumpkins need lots of space and are not suited to small areas. Planting guides are easily accessible on the web and you can sign up for reminders to suggest what you can plant and when, based on your location.

However you look at it and whatever your motivation, growing vegetables at home is a great idea. Your tastebuds, your body and the environment will be sure to thank you so why not give it a go?  We can compare produce!

(image by Michaela Kobyakov)