Eating organic is becoming more and more popular as we strive to be a healthier society. We are taking a more active roll in the quality of foods we eat. Many of us enjoy planting our own vegetable gardens. You don’t need to live on acreage to have an organic garden of your own. Learn from co-owner of Topiarius Urban Garden and Floral Design, Craig Jenkins-Sutton, a few organic gardening tips that you can apply in your own back yard!
Starting an Organic Veggie Garden:
This has been a movement by people concerned about the environment and about their families health and well being. On average, the distance that food travels from field to plate is averaging more than 1,500 miles, which could cause a concern for the condition and quality of food produced. Combine this with the over use of precious water resources, concern about e-coli contaminations, heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and the lack of real flavors in the varieties grown are definite factors in the growing interest in backyard organic vegetable gardens.
Here are four steps for creating an organic vegetable garden:
1. Choosing the site: Make sure that the spot that you choose gets at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Preferably a location that has easy access to water and is protected from strong wind.
2. Asses and Build the Soil: Testing the soil to understand what the soil needs is an important step. Many garden centers will have test kits that you can purchase for this. Use the report to help guide you as you make the appropriate amendments. For many urban gardeners the soil may contain contaminants. If this is the case it may make sense to build raised beds and bring in organic soils.
3. Identify sources for organic seeds or plants. This is becoming much less difficult as many seed companies are offering organic options. Purchasing organic plant starts is still a little more difficult. Try asking at local farmers markets and garden centers or research local garden clubs as many will have spring plant sales.
4. Research and locate organic gardening products for both pest control and fertilizer. Please understand that many of these products will still have application warnings and can still be harmful.
The biggest benefit to growing an organic garden is that we tend to eat more vegtables! It is hard to beat the flavor of a vine ripened, heirloom tomato or the aroma of fresh cut basil – and once you have had it, why go back? And, because vegetables can lose nutrients as they sit on the shelves, freshly picked and eaten vegetables offer additional health benefits. Plus, by switching to organic and sustainable practices for the garden, we can mitigate concerns of the long-term effects of chemical pesticides and fertilizers both in my body as well as in the environment.
Other things to consider:
Any garden has its pests and problems. But, the added benefits of an organic garden includes:
- A sense of comfort that you are eating safe and nutritious, locally grown vegetables
- The added diversity of beneficial native insects
- A knowledge that you are doing your part to build a more sustainable way of life
The downfall? There is definitely more time and effort that goes into organic gardening. Daily monitoring the garden for invading pests and careful weeding become more important when you are no longer relying on chemical controls. Building that healthy soil can take more effort as well, but as a positive it definitely offers an excellent work out!
Many thanks to Craig Jenkins-Sutton, President and Co-Owner of Topiarius Urban Garden and Floral Design for sharing these excellent organic gardening tips to help us get started on our vegetable gardens.