The basics in backyard gardening (Google / Jamanica Gleaner News)

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http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20081001/health/health3.html

The basics in backyard gardening
published: Wednesday | October 1, 2008

We are being encouraged to do backyard gardening. A gardener’s fulfilment is to see his or her vegetables and fruits come to fruition and then being able to share them among family and friends.

In planting a vegetable garden, it is very important to select an area that is not contaminated with lead, mercury and other metals. There are many opportunities for bacteria, viruses and parasites to affect the food we grow for consumption. There are certain steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of bacteria that affect food that is reaped.

1. Clear the selected area and incorporate burnt ashes from compost in the beds, forking it gently in and allowing it to stand for seven days.

2. Keep away stray cats and dogs by fencing the beds. This will reduce the risk of faecal matter contaminating the soil.

3. Water the beds with potable (chlorinated) water.

4. Sow seeds in the prepared soil and water when necessary.

5. It is wise to do ‘companion planting’ so that insecticides will not have to be used.

Companion planting is a natural method used by some gardeners. They plant, for example, basil and peppermint between tomatoes, peppers and most vegetables to ward off attacks from pests. Chives do well with carrots; garlic is an excellent companion for roses, French thyme for beans and Irish potatoes, and pennyroyal and rosemary go well with the cabbage family and most vegetables.

6. It is important to have clean hands when reaping produce. It is also necessary that family members wash their hands before placing a clean fruit to their mouths.

Harvesting fruits and vegetables

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Dr Diane Robertson is a pharmacist and recipient of an honorary doctorate in complementary medicine for her work in herbs.

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.