Organic vegetable gardening is not some magical, mystical process attainable by only a select few gardening guru’s or former hippies living in mud huts. Organic produce can be grown in the smallest spaces, and by common people, no matter what their demographic. Organic food offers many health advantages, and growing your own organic vegetables can save a bundle of green at the market.
Gardening can be a great way to promote family unity, family wealth, and family health. Especially if done organically. It can provide education and opportunities for the growth the children as well as the vegetables. Organic gardening can save you some money by supplementing the families groceries with a fresh supply, straight from the backyard, and can even provide extra cash and a lesson in capitalism if you want to set up a temporary curbside vegetable stand for your extras, or create better neighborhood relations if you give it away to the folks down the block. Good nutrition, education, self reliance, and financial well being, all from a little plot in your backyard, and some therapeutic labor. What’s not to like about that?
Organic gardening is good for you and your family because it involves connecting with your food, eating healthy food, and healthful family activity, not to mention the benefits to your pocketbook. There are a few things that you should consider before you get started:
Things to consider before you start:
- Find out what will grow in your area. You may want to grow citrus fruit and bananas, but if you live too far above the equator, you will find it difficult to succeed without some serious alterations. Plan your organic garden realistically with plants that grow well in your area. Find your region, and check your plants and seed to be certain that they will grow well where you live.
- Determine the amount of light available for growing. If your garden space is walled in by high buildings, or tall trees, you may need to consider plants that love shade, or need only a few hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Attempting to grow sun-loving plants in the shade can be frustrating.
- Decide how much space you will need for growing your organic garden, and how much space you actually have. Unless you have several acres available, growing a significant amount of most cereal grains will be out of the question. If grains are a must, consider corn grown in small blocks of space and shade loving crops between rows. There are ways to win the space war using containers and vertical gardening, So don’t let lack of space keep you from starting your garden.
Consider these ideas before you begin, draw up a plan including what plants you will use in what positions in your garden, get the supplies you need, and get started. There are very few problems you can’t overcome with the proper information and a little creativity.
Finding organic vegetable garden space
One of the biggest problems for most organic gardeners is finding space. You may have the knowledge, you may have the experience, you may have the tools and materials for a fantastic organic garden, but if you can’t find the space to get your plants in the ground or containers, your garden is just a dream. Don’t let the dream fade! There are many ways to find the space for your vegetables even if your space seems limited. You just have to think outside the box, and in more than one dimension.
Get rid of your lawn
If you have a lawn, get rid of it, or at least enough of it to grow your garden. Lawns are resource hogs, so why not make that space work for you and turn part of yours into a garden.
Well maintained lawns were once the domain of the wealthy, but at some point in the last half of the last century home lawns for middle class Americans became the standard. It is safe to say that Americans spend more on lawn care annually than on any other aspect of home maintenance.
Lawns require a lot of resources. These resources are in the form of water, fertilizer, pesticides, equipment and labor and the cost can be enormous. The average lawn size, front and back, is about a quarter acre. The average monthly cost for lawn care is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200.00 per month, or $2,400.00 per year. The average first time home buyer never considers this cost until the mowing starts.
Typically, 30 to 60 pounds each of nitrogen and phosphorous are applied to the home lawn in a year, along with an unmeasurable quantity of herbicide and insecticide, and irrigation amounts are somewhere around 60 inches per season, and labor time comes in at 10 hours or more per month during the growing season. All of this to have a pretty, green showplace for your neighbors to admire.
There is a way you can avoid some of these expenses, and even get a pay off. Yes, a pay off!
Simply get rid of that resource draining lawn and raise a garden in it’s place! Instead of spending all that time and money on growing grass, grow something that will save you money at the supermarket. It is good for the environment, good for your health, and good for your pocketbook.
You don’t even have to do it all at once. If you are afraid of suffering lawn withdrawal you can get rid of a section at a time. Once you get started, you will probably not stop until your lawn is all gone and your pantry all full!
Replace your landscape
Use the space that your landscape plants now occupy. Remove those old non productive shrub hedges and plant attractive peppers, cabbages, kale, squash, sweet potatoes or other plants in their place. In some parts of the country, there are native dwarf fruit trees that might be suitable replacements for standard landscape bed plants, and fruiting vines that could be trained on a trellis to add variety if you want to use perennials.
Use fruit and nut trees
Replace small to medium decorative trees with fruit trees. Fruit trees are attractive additions to home landscapes. If you are just starting to landscape a new place, instead of using the standard dooryard or shade trees, use a nut tree native to the area. The magnificent pecan tree makes both a great and attractive shade tree, and is the source of a delicious high oil, high protein nut perfect for human consumption. There are dozens of other choices, and one is just right for your area.
Consider building a raised bed on part of your patio, or using your patio as a container garden. You can even build shelves or racks to increase available space. This is a great spot for a raised bed, or a cold frame which can also be a hot bed for extending your growing season at both ends of the calender. A pergola over the top can serve as a great arbor for fruit and vegetable vines, which brings me to my next suggestion:
Take your garden to new heights
Get out of the box, and start thinking of gardening on a different plane. Go vertical instead of just horizontal. Grow vine plants on a trellis, wire, arbor, or your fence. You can even line your wooden fence with racks and shelves for container plants. Think vertical, and grow your garden to new heights!
Find more vegetable garden information here!
I am sure you can think of other unusual ways of finding space, creating space, or making better use of available space for your gardening project, just don’t let conventionality get in the way of your healthy organic vegetable garden, and be sure to share your thoughts, ideas, tips, and suggestions on gardening in our comment section.