Garden grown vegetables are superior to grocery store produce by anyone’s standard, both in freshness and flavor. You can go out to the garden and pick your vegetables just before mealtime, at the peak of ripeness. You’ll save money and your family (and lucky neighbors) will love the results. Here’s a quick primer on the basics of planning a vegetable garden. If you’ve never grown your own vegetables, give it a try!
Autumn typically signals the end of home grown vegetables from the garden, but with a little ingenuity you can harvest garden fresh produce well into the winter months. My Central Pennsylvania garden continues to supply fresh vegetables during the fall and winter when most gardeners in my growing region are content to dream about next summer’s bounty. Read on to discover simple tricks that will fortify your garden against the onslaught of frigid weather.
Fall often delivers brief cold spells with a few frost filled mornings, sandwiched between weeks of milder, frost-free conditions. The problem is that a single touch of frost can wipe out every tender annual growing in the garden. Fortunately, a little protection will enable frost sensitive vegetables and herbs to survive a cold snap, and reward the resourceful gardener with an opportunity to enjoy extended harvests.
Organic systems recognize that our health is directly connected to the health of the food we eat and, ultimately, the health of the soil.
Here are some of the main features of organic growing:
– Organic growing severely restricts the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
– Instead, organic growers rely on developing a healthy, fertile soil and growing a mixture of crops.
– Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are not allowed under organic standards.
Going organic may mean that you have to make a trade-off between glossy, same same supermarket looks with better tasting crops that aren’t perfect in shape or size, but many gardeners think this is a price worth paying. You’ll be able to grow different crops that are always relatively expensive to buy in supermarkets and at farmers markets and, growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding.
More farmers are getting into organic vegetable gardening because it is cost effective and they are able to produce almost the same yield of crops. You to can do this at home but first, you have to understand the principles of organic vegetable gardening.
First, organic vegetable gardening does not use any fertilizers, nutrients or pesticides. Nature is your partner here because you will be using two things to make it all work namely sunlight and water. We donít produce these ourselves but you have to find the ideal area and provide adequate drainage.
Aside from sunlight and water, you can help the crops grow by using compost heap from leftover food, chipped bark, garden compost, leaf moulds and manure. You can mix these all together and then spread this throughout your garden.
A lot of people are grossed about by manure. You donít have to scoop this from the toilet because this is sold in stores. If you have a dog, put on some gloves and put it there. Chickens are also great to have. Just let them roam around in the garden.
Some people use dead animals or meat products. You donít put these in the soil but leave it for a couple of weeks in the bin because maggots will soon appear and this is what you use to help fertilize your garden.
Another helpful creature is the earthworm because it digs deep into the ground and aerates the soil bringing various minerals to the surface which also provides better drainage. This long pink colored creature also leaves casting behind that experts say is five times as rich in nitrogen phosphorous and potassium. Again, this can be purchased from the gardening store.
Organic garden is challenging since you have to deal with unwanted guests. Some of these pests include armyworms, crickets, gypsy moth caterpillars, slugs and squash bugs. Before, people used fertilizer to kill them but in an organic setting, the best weapon is the toad that is known to eat more almost every type of insect. If you have caterpillars or spiders lurking in the garden, get a bird because this is not in the toad’s diet.
In some cases, you donít have to buy a toad or a bird from the pet store. They may come in to your home as long as you set the ideal environment for them. You can put up a bird house or a small pond. Within days, you will have some new occupants protecting your garden.
Other insect killers which you can get to do the job include the preying mantis and the ladybug because they mark their territory and eat anything that dares enter their domain.
Plants can also be used to protect your vegetables. For example, the rosemary, sage or thyme is an effective deterrent against butterflies. Marigolds on the other hand are effective against nematodes.
But despite all the flowers and creatures that nature has to offer, crop rotation is seen as the best way to keep the soil fertile. If you planted this kind of vegetable for this season, change it with another and the return to the first after this one is harvested.
The principles behind organic gardening are very simple. You just have to be practice it so you can harvest the vegetables you have planted weeks ago.
A good garden aficionado must know that cultivation or weeding is effective for growth control. Weeds are your garden’s most persistent and cloying enemy. You need to be able to know how to handle weeds in order to foster growth control for your organic garden. If you let weeds take over, they will completely obliterate your capacity to yield a rich number of vegetables.
They are the number one stealer of nutrients, sunlight and revenue for farmers, so the earlier you try to eliminate them, the better will it be for your gardening. This can eat up your time to such extremes at certain seasons, but monitoring weeds and eliminating them is definitely worth your time and effort.
Weeds are usually much harder to remove when they have matured. So it might require you a keen observing eye to really check out and inspect your garden for the earliest appearances of these culprits. Cultivating your soil regularly in the garden will help eliminate the younger weeds. Once you let those young weeds take hold and be firmly established in the garden, it will become a more herculean task to try to remove them from your garden.
Seasons also affect the appearance of weeds. Warm-season and cool-season weeds proliferate at different times of the year, and it will be your advantage to recognize which weeds are in season so you can more easily expect them in your garden and prepare your anti-weed arsenal more effectively. Some of the weed seeds may also lie in your garden, so make sure that you are able to cultivate your soil properly to remove them as well.
Make sure that your ground remains filled up with the good stuff. If you leave any portion idle or bare, the weeds are more likely to secure that area for their growth. If you are unable to fill the entire area with plant outgrowths, at least have a good cover to keep the weeds from invading your plant territory.
In the case where weeds have already grown when you discovered them, chopping them off from the ground is the most efficient way to remove them. Some of these weeds may cease to be removed, and will not stop even when you cut them down. But repetitive cutting down of those weeds will help eliminate them for good after some time.
The use of herbicides and pesticides is also advised, but it is not entirely necessary when you are able to do good cultivation of your land. The pesticides and herbicides, especially the commercially available ones, may prove to have other harmful effects. It may also pose as a threat to other useful organisms living in your garden. In any case, when you are presented with a huge weed problem, you may use herbicides and pesticides but only sparingly.
Mulching and composting are also good ways to help maintain the soil and ward off the weeds. Ultimately, you will not have to encounter huge problems in weed management if from the start, you are able to keep them from thriving in your garden in the first place.
If you are really consistent in digging up your space, you will have made the most out of your vegetables’ garden and have exercised true growth control against weeds that can steal, kill and destroy your organic garden.