Organic gardening for modern homesteaders
In Grandma’s day they called organic gardening, just gardening. It involved putting on a sunhat, grabbing the hoe from the garden shed and cultivating the soil. Fertilizer meant chicken sh*t and cow dung. Hopefully it had a season or two to break down before it went on the garden. Nature did what nature does and veggies came from the ground. Harvests were bountiful because the ground was tilled and amended for years in the same spot. If grandpa forgot to till in the manure one Spring, the plants were a little stunted. That’s all. The next year things would improve, somewhat.
Today’s organic gardener has a world of scientific information at their finger tips. Gardeners from around the world gather on the internet to compare notes. Amazon is available to supplement your knowledge with both digital books and print books. The result is more information that will improve your yields and satisfy your thirst for fresh fruits and vegetables. Today’s gardeners have a secret arsenal of tricks that grandma never thought about.
5 tips to get your organic garden in top shape
Here’s 5 tips of them to get your organic garden in top shape.
1. Some bugs are good, don’t kill everything.
Beneficial insects serve several purposes in the garden. Some beneficial insects pollinate the blossoms that will bring fruit and vegetables to your table. Other beneficials eat pests like aphids, and caterpillars, saving your crops from destruction. Some, like the swallowtail butterfly’s caterpillar, consume noxious weeds before they set seed. ( The swallowtail butterfly lays its eggs on thistles and the caterpillars eat a lot of thistles before they spin their cocoon. ) While grandma might have told you which bugs were good bugs, she didn’t plant things in her garden to encourage the bugs and she didn’t bring bugs home with her from the garden store, at least not on purpose.
2. Companion planting fools the pests and grows better veggies
Grandmas garden had all the corn in one spot, all the flowers in another spot. This may make the weeding and harvesting more efficient, something Grandma loved, but companion planting was better for the plants. Mono-cultures breed the pests that destroy individual crops. By inter-planting strongly smelling plants like marigolds, and garlic among vegetable crops, some pests can be persuaded that the cabbages are not so attractive, or the beans are not what they seem. Companion planting deters pests and increases yields.
3. Worms are your friends
There are many species of worms that inhabit the garden. The two that are most important to gardeners are earth worms and red wigglers. Red wigglers are the worms that you find in indoor worm bins, that do the job of converting kitchen waste into fertile, worm castings. Red wigglers also do their work out doors in compost piles, and under cardboard mulch. Their most important contribution to the garden is their castings (worm poop), which is rich in organic matter and fertilizer. Earth worms work to aerate the soil, as they tunnel in the soil, making space for roots. You want to encourage them and move them around where you need them. Rototilling can destroy earth worms, so avoid mechanical tilling as much as possible.
4. Railroad ties and rubber tires are not organic
Lots of the old Mother Earth News Magazines suggested using discarded railroad ties or discarded tires as containers for planting your vegetable garden. Grandma equated recycling with organic. Today we know that treated railroad ties leach heavy metals and poisons like arsenic into the soil, which are then taken up by the plants. Tires also give off petroleum chemicals as they are heated in the summer sun. You don’t want these volatile compounds anywhere near your veggies. A good rule of thumb is — if you wouldn’t eat off it, don’t plant in it.
5. Gardening is fun and relaxing — enjoy it
Grandma’s garden was a place of work, a part of her daily to do list. She looked at it as a place to grow food, weed, and get back to her indoor work as quickly as she could. Grandma relied on her garden to provide the fruits and vegetables that her family ate year round. The stores in those days didn’t carry strawberries in February or asparagus in December. Grandma worked hard during the growing season so that her family could enjoy the fruits of her labours throughout the year. It was a matter of great pride to see the jars of pickles, jams, chutneys, and salsas in October, ready to feed the family till the Spring garden was producing. Grandma ensured that her family had food security at its finest.
But today’s gardener has options. She can grow her own food or grab it at the produce section of the grocery store or the farmer’s market. She can get fresh asparagus in December and strawberries year round. Gardening is a choice. And for that reason, today’s organic gardener can enjoy the process of gardening as well as the vegetables and fruit of the harvest season. Smiling gardeners spend more time in the garden and therefore have healthier plants, and more bountiful harvests. Gardening, even when you have to in order to stretch your budget, is fun and relaxing.
A GiveAway with you in mind:
To help you enjoy your garden even more this Spring, I joined with several bloggers in the Homestead Bloggers Network to bring you a special Spring Giveaway, in conjunction with our sponsor Peaceful Valley.
Be sure to enter the draw below and visit the other bloggers in this draw for even more ways to win.
Enter the Giveaway!
Members of the Homestead Bloggers Network have partnered with Peaceful Valley/GrowOrganic.com to bring you this fabulous Grow Organic Gardening Giveaway Bonanza with a Harvest Basket overflowing with $200 worth of Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supplyʼs organic gardening favorites, to take you through the garden year.
Start and sow certified organic seeds with a seed sower, and mark them with wooden plant labels. Feed them the finest organic fertilizers, and put on an organic cotton t-shirt to harvest them with garden gloves and snips. Carry and rinse the produce in the Harvest Basket. Chart your garden progress on a botanical calendar and plan for next year in a garden journal. Put up your produce with tips from a new book, then use botanical cards when you give those jars as gifts.
4 seed tin collections, each with 10 packs of our non-GMO, certified organic seeds:
- Grandmaʼs Root Cellar Collection – Gift Seed Tin
- Frost Kissed Collection – Spring or Fall Mix – Gift Seed Tin
- Crafterʼs Delight Collection – Autumn Decor Mix – Gift Seed Tin
- Sun Splash Collection – Heat Loving Mix – Gift Seed Tin
1 gallon Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply Liquid Fish Fertilizer
1 quart Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply Organic Liquid Kelp
Winner picks the glove and t-shirt sizes!
A Gardenerʼs Notebook, Doug Oster and Jessica Walliser
How to Store Your Home-Grown Produce
Additional prizes offered by Baker Creek and participating blogs:
UntrainedHousewife.com, MomPrepares.com, springmountainliving.com, lillepunkin.com and harrisheather.com.
Ball Canning Lids and Ball Complete Book of Home Preservation
Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) – Signed by Angela England
One really lucky person is going to win this amazing bundle of tools, seeds, books and more to get their garden off to a great start this spring!
Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. Then be sure to visit all the participating blogs listed below!
Giveaway is open to US Residents ages 18 and over only. Entries close on March 20th and winners will be drawn March 21st. This giveaway is part of the Homestead Bloggers Network and sponsored by Peaceful Valley – Small review samples may have been provided but thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
1. Chris Dalziel- Joybilee Farm
2. Dani Meyer- The Adventure Bite
3. Heather Harris- The Homesteading Hippy
4. Erica Mueller- Mom Prepares
5. Angela England- Untrained Housewife
6. Linsey Knerl- Lille Punkin’
7. Gretchen Stuppy Carlson- The Backyard Farming Connection
8. Kristi Stone- Let This Mind Be in You
9. Annie Kaylor Bernauer- Montana Solar Creations
10. Krystyna Thomas- Spring Mountain Living
11. Mary Hitchings- Raising Dick and Jane
13. Amanda Jones- Adventures of Mommyhood