raised bed gardens

Masterful Gardening: Raised bed gardening offers several advantages
York Daily Record, on Thu, 13 Jun 2013 22:19:05 -0700
In my years of gardening, I have applied two approaches to “raised bedgardening. One I call “constructed” and the other “natural.” Both offer advantages over traditional plot gardening. The constructed model usually is associated with building

The Ultimate Guide To Raised Garden Beds | Off The Grid News
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Building raised-bed gardens is a project suitable for experts and novices alike who are serious about growing high-quality vegetables, fruits, and herbs. One major reason serious gardeners use raised beds is because they 

Why You Should Go Organic

Organic gardening isn't just about growing your own food.. it's about the health of our planet and our health as well. There are a variety of reasons TO grow organically, and absolutely none to grow conventionally. Organic foods have more nutrition than conventional foods, they are free of pesticides and herbicides, most of which are known carcinogens, and organic growing supports and sustains the planet and the natural ecosystem.

I do organic gardening to sustain good health, and I buy organic at the grocers for that reason as well as to support responsible agriculture practices and businesses who care about our well being and that of the earth. It is well known that organic foods have more vitamins and minerals than their pesticide grown counterparts.. and they also are free of poisons. Nowadays it's even more important to grow organically than ever before.

Previously it was possible to at least wash off pesticides from produce, but that is no longer the case. Pesticides are now being put on the seeds, so as the plant grows the poisons are taken up INTO the plant and then the vegetables. In this kind of agriculture there si no possibility of not consuming poison because it's inside of the food and not on it. This practice has also been linked to the disappearance of honey bees. Pesticides are neurotoxins, and when the bees take in the pollen they are being poisoned.

Another important reason to adopt organic agriculture is the earth. Agribusiness is rapidly killing the planet and destroying the very farmland that sustains us. The reason for this is because herbicides, pesticides and the fertilizers used today kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil that are responsible for breaking down the soil so the plant can take in what it needs to provide us with full nutrition. Then the poisons wash off the land with rain, and we end up with enormous dead zones in the oceans.

I find it ironic that before the middle of the last century, what is now known as "conventional" agriculture was non existent, and the convention then was organic. Now however, small family farms are all but gone and our food is grown by gigantic corporations who have no concern for our health or that of the planet. Their only concern is profit. So the choice is ours. We have enormous power in what we choose to buy. So go organic.. whether it's in the grocery store or in your own back yard. You and your children both will be happy you did.

Organic Gardening Basics

Organic Gardening Basics


Organic gardening is a method of gardening that doesn't uses any harmful chemicals. Organic gardening is much more healthy than "conventional" is, and is very popular today among gardeners. Growing an organic garden isn't difficult either.  It is my hope that the following tips will help you to get a start and also help you create and maintain a natural pesticide free and chemical free flower, herb or vegetable garden.

There are basically four essential elements to growing a successful organic garden.  One is mulching, two is pest control, third is fertilizers, and fourth is weed control.

Mulching

Mulching a garden helps to hold water, reduces weeds and adds essential nutrients back into the soil.  You can purchase organic mulch in most home centers, but my preference is not to use any ground overlay at all and to handle weed control by hand.  Having said that however, I DO like to use mulch between the plant boxes or rows to keep down on weeds.

 

Pests

One of the easiest ways to deal with pests in your organic garden, is to use a simple soap spray on your plants and then follow it with a clean rinse.  It works well and I use it all the time for nearly every type of infestation.  The one thing I found that it doesn't work particularly well on is vine borers.  For those, I watch the plants (squash and other thick vine plants) and when I see a leaf beginning to turn brown, I look at the vine and can always locate where the borer is at.  They are moth pupae which are laid on the vine and when the eggs hatch they bore in and eat their way up the vine.  All that is necessary to deal with them is to take a pocket knife and cut the vine open right where the green area meets the brown (because that's where the borer is at) and pop it out.   I usually just leave them on the ground because they cannot get back to the plant and will die and add nutrients back to the soil.  Another way to keep down on certain pests is to plant Marigolds along the edges of your plants.  They work well to keep down on some varieties of bugs.


Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizer, my preference is fish emulsion.  It can be found in any home center and makes for an excellent fertilizer.  It's sold in a concentrate, so you just add water and to the garden.  Be careful not to over fertilize because you can burn the plants.  If your plants require more acid, (you can test this with a simple ph test) you can use coffee grounds. They work wonders.. believe me.  Another thing that works well for fertilizer is to use plant rotation from year to year, or to plant a nitrogen fixing plant (such as peas) next to a plant that uses nitrogen.  This works especially well in high density gardens, such as Square Foot or French Intensive.

Weeds

Weeds can be treated with vinegar, but I've never done it.  I've always preferred getting into the garden and working, so I pull the weeds out that will come out (they are easiest to pull after a rain or watering) and for the one's that are stubborn, I just use my spade or some other tool to loosen the roots and then they will pull up easily.  After they are loose, it's usually a good idea to put them in the mulch pile, unless they have gone to seed.  Often a mulch pile will get hot enough to destroy the seeds, but I never wanted to take the chance, so on the rare occasion that one does began to go to seed I throw it away. 

Compost

Although I didn't add it to the list above, compost is also important for an organic garden to add essential nutrients. It can be made from almost anything you have on hand including ground up leftovers, leaves and grass.  You can get compost bins from home and garden centers, or you can easily build one.  I've seen them built out of everything from plywood to steel barrels.

And finally, if you want to plant herbs for organic cooking, they make a beautiful addition in the organic garden and don't need a lot of attention. 

Water Conservation For Everyone

Whether you live in a drought-influenced area, or you are simply looking for a way to reduce your water usage, you'll find that there are many things that you can try when it comes to preserving the water that you can find and using the water that you have conservatively and wisely. Water conservation is something that any green gardener should consider, and you'll find that doing so is actually a great deal more straightforward than you might think. The first thing that you can do when you want to consider water conservation is to think about a good water delivery system. There are several practical methods to get water to your garden, and you may be surprised to find that one of the best ones that you can use is a water can. A watering can will let you target each plant individually and to figure out how much water each plants gets; the directed spout will also let the water go right through to the roots. You may also wist to consider a soaker hose or drip irrigation. A soaker hose will sweat water through the pores of the hose, for the water to get to where it needs to go with virtually no evaporation. You can set them up with a timer and you can bury them under mulch, and once down there, they need very little maintenance. As a bonus, many soaker hoses are made from recycled tires. Drip irrigation will give you the most water efficiency, and they work by setting up a tube along the plants with a release point for each plant. When a plant doesn't need water, a plug can be installed and the tube itself can beset with a timer. Finally, you'll also want to think about where you can get the water from. While you'll always have a hose from your home, you'll find that you can effectively water your plants using water collected during the storms. You can simply install a basin underneath a gutter pour downspout, or you can use rain chains to direct water into a barrel or an underground holding tank. Do keep in mind that the container should be covered, and that the water collected should be used in ten days to avoid contamination or breeding mosquitoes. Take a look at the many ways that you can conserve water for your garden, and you'll find that there are plenty of options open to you!

Starting an Organic Garden

When you are looking to grow food for your family and loved ones, you already know that you want it to be healthy and nutritious, and one of the best ways to do this is to make sure that your garden is organic! Organic gardening not only allows you to grow food that is free of chemicals or additives, but it also promote ecological responsibility and has low impact consequences for the environment. If you are looking grow an organic garden, you'll find that there are plenty of tips to get you started. One of the best ways to get started with an organic garden is to get a hold of some heirloom seeds. You'll find that heirloom seeds are taken from plants that were once common in human history; as such, they have not been genetically modified and as a rule, they tend to be fairly tough. They are not hybrids, and there are around 4,000 varieties of seeds, so you'll be able to take your choice. When working with organic gardening, you'll find that it is always a good idea to consider the lay out of your garden. You'll find, for instance, that you can work with intensive intercropping, where you'll find that one crop is grown between rows of another; this will allow you to take full advantage of your gardening space, and reduce your water and composting requirements. You'll find that gardening boxes is another way to maximize your space. Organic gardening also implies that you will be free from the use of chemical pesticides and additives; this does not mean, however, that you are letting your garden run rampant with weeds and bugs! You'll find that by planting some flowers and herbs around your garden, you'll be strengthening its immunity to insects. Consider marigolds, mints and chives for a start. You'll also find that you can deter pests by rotating your crops annually. Any good organic garden needs a fair amount of planning, and the more you plan, the more prepared you are going to be. Take the time to consider what you can do to make sure that your organic garden continues to feed you and nourish you in the future!

Start Composting On Your Own

If you have seen the effects of composting on other gardens, or if you know that a compost heap can severely reduce your ecological footprint and save a great deal of space in the landfills, you already know that you are interested in putting one together, but you may be a little bit uncertain as to how to get started. A healthy and thriving compost heap is something that takes some time and effort to get rolling, but you’ll find that with a little bit of information that it is really quite straightforward!

The first thing that you need to do is to start thinking of things in terms of what can and cannot go into your compost pile. Brown materials include things like leaves and hay, but you’ll find that they also include clean shredded paper, cardboard rolls, dryer lint that hasn’t used dryer sheets, and shredded newspapers count as well. Green materials are things like grass clipping, vegetable leavings, tea bags, coffee grounds, manure and fruit trimmings. Green and brown materials can be used in your composting, while things like cat litter, colored paper, dairy products and greasy materials, should be kept away.

To make a traditional compost pile, you’ll need both green and brown materials, and you can put them into a pile that is roughly two to three feet square. You can also work with a compost bin, which will let you keep the pile more contained; some bins even give you the option of tumbling the compost to increase the heat reaction.

After you have your compost pile together, you should add a little bit of garden soil or a compost booster in order to help with the break down. You’ll find that this is something that you can do to get it started, but that you can also do it from time to time to keep things happening.

Make sure that your turn your compost pile several times a week to keep up the oxygen flow and to help things break down very quickly. You’ll also need to keep your compost pile a little damp, but not soaking wet; you’ll find that this will encourage a good breakdown of the components involved.

When you are considering composting, you’ll find that there are many things to consider, but you’ll find that with the information listed above, you can get yourself off to a great start!

Organic Care For Your Lawn!

If you are someone who has investment in your lawn looking good, you have probably seen plenty of chemical pesticides and additives that will allow your lawn to do just that, but what if you are interested in a green solution? The truth of the matter is that it is fairly simple to take care of your lawn in an organic way while sacrificing nothing when it comes to looks! When you are considering organic lawn care, start with the few basic steps listed below.

The first thing that you can do is to make sure that your mower is set as high as it should go. This should leave you with a clearance of about three to four instances. You may worry that if you cut it longer that you’ll have to mow more often, but you’ll find that this is actually completely untrue. The shorter you cut your lawn the faster it will grow; when grass is cut, it will use a lot of stored sugar to grow back, and you’ll find that this expenditure of energy will make it more vulnerable to pests.

The second thing that you can do to make sure that your lawn looks great and stays natural is to check the pH of the soil. You’ll find that there are plenty of services that will help you out with this, and this can help you head off problems before they start and give you a healthier lawn in general. If the pH is under 6.0, you can add lime, and if it is above 7.0, you can add gardener’s sulphur.

If you are looking for an all around good lawn and have plenty of time on your hands, consider the topsoil. Dig a spade into your ground at various points and find out how deep your layer of topsoil is. You’ll find that four inches is about the minimum you need for a passable lawn, while eight inches or more will give you good, strong growth above it.

Finally, remember that you should always use an organic fertilizer when your garden needs a little bit of help, especially in the fall and the spring, and that you should only water when your grass is showing some signs of drought. When you water, water deeply, and take the time to make sure that everything gets a good soaking.

As you can see, taking care of lawn can be still be eco-friendly, so see how you can get started!

Looking At Natural Pest Control For Your Organic Garden

As every gardener knows, insect pests are part and parcel of being a gardener, and that you have many different ways of dealing with them. When you are considering an organic garden, you already know that you should not use chemical pesticides, but the truth is, you really don’t need them! There are plenty of different solutions for the various pest problems that you might face, and you’ll find that with just a little bit of information under your belt that you will be able to deal with your pest problem quite easily and handily.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you can make your garden much more immune to pests simply by starting off with a good gardening structure. For instance, make sure that you rotate your plants, which will make the pests of one year completely obsolete the next. Remember that healthy soil will encourage nematodes, which will work well against soil bests, and that the use of compost and mulching can also keep pests off. Remember that plants that are native to your area will always be tougher in the face of natural pests, and that having a wide variety of plants will encourage less pests as well, due to the fact that the plants will “protect” each other.

When considering natural pest control, make it your business to encourage the natural predators of your pests. For instance, ladybugs, birds, moss, certain fungi and ground beetles are all beneficial to a garden, and you’ll find that keeping a natural garden will encourage them as well. Check at your local garden shop for any recommendations, or anything that you can do to encourage these animals and plants to help you out.

Regular garden maintenance will also help you keep the pests down. Whenever you see any small, weak or dying plants, pull them out. They may be infected, and even if they are not, they will provide a place for pests to nest. Pull the plant out and keep it from the rest of your garden. Similarly, keep your garden clear of debris, use clan mulch and weed regularly. Doing this can help with your water irrigation and keep your garden growing healthily as well.

You’ll find that natural pest control is quite easy once you learn about the pests that are troubling you. Remember that every problem has a natural solution your garden, so look around for the solutions that you need!

What You Need To Know About Natural Fertilizers

When you want to make sure that your yard and garden look great, you’ll find that one thing that you need to consider is natural fertilizers. Gardens do a great deal better with just a little bit of help, and you’ll find that you can easily do so without resorting to chemical additives of artificial fertilizers. You’ll find that natural fertilizers are a great way to add nutrients to the soil and to make sure that your produce look great!

When considering natural fertilizers or making your own, you’ll find that they should always contain three things. Nitrogen is meant to promote the growth of better foliage, while phosphates are in place to ensure good root development. Potassium is good for the overall health of the plant. You’ll find that when you buy commercial fertilizers that they will have these three ingredients, but they will get them in ways that are harmful to the environment.

When you are considering natural fertilizers, remember that compost is a great place to start. If you don’t have a compost pile, now is a great time to start, and you’ll find that you can encourage healthy bacteria in your garden as well as increase the production of healthy nitrogen. Spreading compost on your plants is a good way to kick off your organic gardening.

You’ll also find that a mix of grass clippings, mulch and seaweed can go a long way in your garden as well. If you live near a beach, you can collect seaweed for your garden, and after it is rinsed out, you can put it directly on the soil. Grass clippings can be applied to the garden beds, but remember not to apply it too liberally, as too much grass decomposition will make the soil acidic through the creation of ammonia

Another great natural fertilizer is animal manure. Remember that the best ones to use are horse, chicken or cow manure, and that when you dig it into the soil, it will help conserve nitrogen. Don’t just spread it on the soil, as most of the nutritional potential will be washed away very easily. When using manure, remember that fresh manure should be kept away from young plants, to prevent the tender roots from being burned.

Take a look around, and you’ll be sure to find plenty of natural fertilizer options all around you. You’ll find that with just a little bit of work, you can really make your garden look great without a single chemical additive!