My Family’s First Attempt At An Organic Vegetable Garden
by Scott Oakes
(Spring Hill, Florida)
We knew from the get go that we would face some difficulties starting an organic vegetable garden in West Central Florida.
The soil is not very good. Mostly sand and the climate is hot and humid. The perfect incubator for insects and fungus, but we felt we were up to the challenge.
The first thing we did after clearing the plot was to add over 1600lbs of cow manure to the soil and work it in. To give us an edge against the anticipated insect assault we alternated garlic and onion plants around the entire perimeter of the garden as most insects will avoid both garlic and onions. It worked extremely well.
We did experience an episode with leaf miners in our organic vegetable garden but quickly brought it under control by putting jalapeno peppers in our blender with a little water.
After mixing the peppers and water on high for a few minutes, we then filtered the concoction through a coffee filter, then put it in a sprayer and sprayed the plants in the garden. Again, it worked great.
One of the central techniques contributing to the success of the Thomas Jefferson garden is the focus on soil health and fertility by regular additions of organic matter.
Vegetable gardeners have discovered it’s not necessary to arm yourself with an arsenal of chemicals to grow great produce. As many of us have realized, we need to be more environmentally conscious both inside and outside our homes.
Gardens are living systems. A healthy garden starts from the ground up. In our quest to find examples of eco-friendly gardens around the country for my PBS show, “Growing a Greener World,” we featured the garden of one of America’s most famous organic gardeners, Thomas Jefferson.
Monticello is on a mountaintop, just outside Charlottesville, Va. Jefferson’s 5,000-acre plantation served not only as his food supply, but also as a living laboratory. Jefferson grew plants from all over the world, including interesting vegetables such as sea kale, cardoon, Caracalla beans, Florence fennel, fava beans and crowder peas.
While we can learn many lessons from Jefferson’s gardening techniques, a central principle involves regularly adding organic matter for soil health and fertility. Think of soil rich in organic matter as a savings account for your plants. The nutrients you deposit are released back to your plants much like a steady income. Regular additions are necessary to meet the demand. Nutrients found in organic matter stay in the soil longer than water-soluble synthetics, which rapidly leach well beyond the root zone. Continue reading Lessons from Thomas Jefferson’s organic garden (The Seattle Times)
Rodale organic gardening is something that every organic farming enthusiast should be aware of. The guidelines of proper organic farming have been mentioned in a clear cut way in this method of gardening. This particular method gives a lot of importance to the soil and helps you know how you can improve the quality and fertility of the soil making it ideal for cultivation of vegetables and fruits.
The soil is said to have been handled properly only if it becomes very dark, which is the result of carbon accumulation. This is what determines the fertility of the soil. Such soil contains more compost which helps in retaining moisture and absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere. Black is the color that distinguishes fertile soil from that which is low in fertility. This simply means that your soil is said to be extremely fertile only if it is black in color.
Rodale organic gardening primarily states that one need not use fertilizers for their plants if they add compost twice or thrice a year. This method emphasizes on the five principles of organic farming. Compost takes just 3 months to get prepared but the benefit it bestows on the plants sustains for an unbelievably long time. Hence it is of prime importance to leave it unperturbed for the duration mentioned.
The history of organic vegetable gardening dates several centuries ago that the ancient civilizations that relied on subsistence fishing to place food on the table. At the time, nobody used fertilizers and pesticides, but the world has increased in population, demand for food also increased. To fill the gap, scientists chose to introduce fertilizers and chemicals to reduce the harvesting time and make the vegetables larger . Organic vegetable gardening only made a come back in the 1980s make another ancient practice again when the U.S. Department of Agriculture has encouraged farmers to do so by giving incentives. It has more farmers join the bandwagon which is also underway in Europe. But organic gardening is not only to eliminate the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers must use other means to bring out drives as compost, crop residues, crop rotation, integrated pest and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and to fight against. Continue reading Organic Vegetable Gardening (Google / Alien sightings)
Vermicompost from Pig Manure Grows Healthy Hibiscus
ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2009) — Vermicomposting, the practice of using earthworms to turn waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer, can be an economical, organic waste management practice. During vermicomposting, earthworms and microorganisms stabilize organic waste in an aerobic, moist environment. The resulting product, called vermicompost (VC), or worm castings, provides commercial and amateur growers an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional substrate additives for producing many varieties of container-grown plants. A research team recently experimented with pine bark amended with vermicompost derived from pig manure to see if this organic alternative can produce healthy hibiscus. Continue reading VERMICOMPOST : nutrient-rich fertilizer from manure (Science Daily / Am. Soc. Hort. Sci.)
Organic vegetable gardening seems to be the trend these days as more people have become conscious of what they are eating. This is because conventional methods which involve the use of harmful chemicals may enter our systems. In order to control the problem, the US Department of Agriculture has issues a new directive. This encourages farmers to shift to organic farming. Continue reading The Importance of Organic Vegetable Gardening (Google / Gardening Tips)