Go Green In Your Garden
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on July 12, 2009 by Paulina Nelega, RH
However, the mere idea of growing an organic garden can turn some people’s thumbs black instead of green. In reality, organic gardening is not any more difficult than growing a regular vegetable garden. The main difference being that organic gardening only uses animal or vegetable fertilizers instead of synthetic fertilizer.
Organic gardening also means using more natural pest control rather than using industrial strength insecticides that are commonly sold in some garden centers. In fact, organic gardening has been around since the ancient times and was considered the only way to grow fruits and vegetables. Chemically produced fertilizers were not introduced until the 1840’s.
There is a multitude of benefits to both eating and growing organic foods. One of the most common reasons being that food that is organically grown is loaded with a higher amount of vitamins and nutrients that is needed by our bodies to fight off cancer. Since organic food is grown without the use of harmful chemicals, you ingest fewer chemicals into your body. Most commercially grown fruits and vegetables are produced using growth hormones, pesticides, fertilizers and even artificial flavoring, coloring and preservatives! Now isn’t that a mouthful?
The University of Washington conducted a study of children who ate organically grown food versus children who ate inorganically grown food. The result was that the organically fed children all had a level of pesticide mix in their bodies that was six times lower than that of the inorganically fed children.
When most people think of organic foods the first thing that comes across their minds is that organic food is expensive. This is a myth. Organic food is expensive when you purchase it inside a chain grocery store but if you grow it yourself, it is much cheaper than that. In fact, most chemical fertilizers cost about the same as natural ones do. Furthermore, when growing your own organic food, you can cut costs even further by composting your leftover kitchen scraps thereby eliminating any need to purchase commercially produced compost, as well as also reducing any need for fertilizer. Other regular gardening costs such as herbicides and pesticides can also be reduced by choosing to grow fruit and vegetables that are native to the environment in which you live, as the plants will have a natural ability to fend off any pesky predators. Other examples of natural pest control would be to use such things as cucumber peals as ants and other insects do not like them, or you could consider bringing in beneficial insects into your garden that will work round the clock to protect your plants.
Before growing your organic garden, it is vital to have adequately healthy soil. A few weeks before you start to plant any seeds, you should remove any weeds, sticks or stones from the bed. Next, you will need to work loose at least the top twelve inches of dirt and place about inch of your compost on top. Check on the area every few days to pull out any weeds that have started to grow.
The best part of growing your organic garden is in choosing which fruits and vegetables you want to grow! When deciding, you should consider what foods your family enjoys eating the most and also plants grow well in your part of the world. Next, you should take into account how big your garden is and how much direct sunlight the plants will need.
Most successfully grown plants have their start by being indoor grown seeds. If you have the space, you should consider starting out your garden by growing the seeds inside first. Be sure to plant seeds in soil that is moist but at that is also at room temperature with plenty of natural light.
Within a few days or weeks those seeds would have started sprouting and you can then move them into your garden bed outside. Before moving your seedlings, be sure to water them first as it will be easier to move them successfully. Make sure that you dig a hole in your garden bed that is sufficient for the growth of your plants. Then simply place your plant in the hole and place soil gently around the base of the plant.
Lastly, write down on a calendar the date that you planted your seeds as well as the expected harvest date. Most plants take an average of 50 – 90 days to grow before you can start to enjoy them.
Photo Credit: sbocaj
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan