Are you fed up with vegetables grown out of season, from who knows where which may look bright and shiny but which taste of absolutely nothing? Are you frightened as to what all those pesticides and other chemicals are doing to your family's health?
Well the answer is simple; grow your own organic vegetables and fruit. You will need to be prepared to devote quite some time and effort but the end result will be well worth it. Just think of those wholesome, tasty fruits and vegetables which you'll be able to put on your table at all times of the year.
What is organic gardening and why should you go to all that effort?
It is the growing of produce, flowers, shrubs and so on without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers which, organic gardeners believe, will result in flavorful, healthy and nutritionally beneficial food. This is because the soil is fertilized naturally and insects are kept away using natural materials too so there's no risk of ingesting or inhaling toxic chemicals. An additional benefit is the fresh air and exercise which you get digging and maintaining your own vegetable plot.
Possibly, although you're keen on this idea of growing your own organic food, you don't know where to start, so here are a few tips.
Firstly, make a plan. You need to decide where your veg garden will be, how big and what you're going to grow. Remember if you want food for all seasons, you'll need much more space than if you just want a few salad leaves for summer.
Now measure and dig out the area that you want to grow vegetables in, to a depth of about twenty five centimeters, turning it well. Dig in compost or horse, cow or pig manure for bulk and some organic fertilizer and leave it to work into the soil for around three or four weeks.
By this time, you're ready to plant your seedlings which you will have grown from seed in organic compost and you'll need to water them. There are two schools of thought regarding the watering of seedlings. One is that a weekly soaking is more beneficial because it strengthens the roots as they reach down for water; another is that when seedlings are very small, they should be well watered daily or they are at risk of becoming too dry. You could try giving them a good soaking preferably early in the morning or late in the evening, inspect them daily and if they look in danger of wilting, water again.
On your daily inspection tour, keep an eye out for aphids and other damaging insects. Prevention is better than cure so ensure that crops are free of disease before you plant them and keep the garden free of weeds and other debris. If you do find evidence of infestation, either pick off insects by hand or spray them with a mixture of washing up liquid and water or commercial organic insecticide soaps.
Weed prevention is also important or the weeds will take all the goodness from your soil. Hoe between your rows of plants every few days or when you see weeds appearing. Applying a mulch around your plants or even laying black plastic or other material will help to keep the weeds at bay and will also help to retain moisture.
Finally, pick your produce and enjoy the fruits of your labors; the flavor and goodness will make all that effort worth while.
Isnare Liz Canham
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