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5 Steps to Growing Your Own Produce
Mom always said to eat your fruits and veggies, but what she probably didn’t tell you is that they’ll cost you a fortune to buy. And it’s not just your wallet that feels the blow from the inflated cost of produce ; the environment pays a heavy toll as well. Transporting the products from the grower to the consumer requires an unbelievable amount of energy, meaning the produce you buy in the grocery store often has a major carbon footprint.
The answer to all of your veggie woes? Grow your own produce.
Step One: Know What to Grow
If you’re a west-coaster, you’re in luck. There’s a reason California produce is the best; it has the trifecta of a perfect climate, soil, and rainfall. Where some regions rely on short growing seasons, you can grow fresh veggies in the Golden State pretty much all year round. Take advantage of the ideal conditions and start planting right now. (Well, maybe finish reading first.)
Step Two: Make Sure There’s Plenty of Sun
Step Three: Maximize Your Space
Grow Your Own Salad Greens
It always amazes me just how much money I can spend on organic salad at the store . Add in a lunch salad everyday and a green smoothie in the morning and you can watch your food budget soar. Lettuce, arugula, and micro greens can easily be grown at home . These work on a patio or balcony if you don’t have a yard. Even if you do have a yard, try planting some in containers to experiment with.
Growing your own lettuce is easy and inexpensive. All you need is some lettuce seeds, organic potting soil, and a container. Since lettuce doesn’t get huge root balls you can use a shallow container. My favorite is a simple plastic one you can buy at any home improvement store. It’s round, about 6 inches deep and almost looks like a salad bowl by itself.
While seeds may seem expensive, usually a packet of mesclun can plant many containers. Or you can choose to throw in some seeds every couple of days to space out your harvests. Arugula is easy to grow and is good in a salad, pasta sauce, even in soups. Micro greens are still trendy in restaurants, but you can grow these baby greens for a fraction of the cost. All you have to do is pick them while they are still very small. That’s perfect for an impatient gardener. Swiss chard is another green that’s easily grown. It has a long growing season. The small baby leaves are good in salads too.
Having the proper soil is very important. It’s how your little plants get their nutrition. You don’t want to buy top soil because it will not have the nutrients you need. Garden soil is not made to be in containers and tends to dry out faster than potting soil. I love the fact you can get organic potting soil, so you can grow your own organic greens.
If you are in a basement apartment you may think growing veggies is hopeless. But even those of you in windowless homes can purchase an Aerogarden to grow salad greens, tomatoes, and herbs in. If you go to the Aerogarden outlet you can usually pi...
How to Grow an Organic Garden
Organic gardening is a chemical-free and earth-friendly method of gardening. Organic gardening and conventional gardening differ on how they control pests and nourish the soil. Conventional gardening uses chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers while organic gardens use organic means of enriching the soil and organic weed killers and fertilizers.
Organic gardens follow natural practices that include:
Organic Soil: Quality soil is the main component of creating a successful garden. By providing nourishing natural substances to the soil, you will be well on your way to growing healthy plants and vegetables. For an organic gardening, it is essential to add natural additives such as organic compost, manure, chopped leaves, and mulches. Before adding natural compounds, you should do a soil test to determine whether the soil has any mineral deficiencies. To improve the quality of the soil, you can add a number of natural products that are rich in nutrients. Natural additives can include organic compost, fish emulsion, and blood meal. If you do not have the time to make your own natural soil feed, there are many natural products available for purchase. Such products that are rich in nutrients include seaweed meal, straw mulch, and worm casts. Making worm compost is a great way to compost organic waste
Organic Pest Control: Every garden will attract pests that will eat some of the plants and vegetables. Conventional gardens use pesticides to control pests. These pesticides contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, humans, and animals. Attracting or buying bugs that will eat pests such as aphids will help reduce their numbers. Bugs that kill aphids include damsel bugs, lady bugs, and lacewings, and more. There are also organic pest control products on the market. Homemade tomato leaf and garlic sprays will also repel aphids.
Diversifying your garden will help reduce pests. Planting strong smelling herbs will repel plant eating bugs. Birds and insects that feed on aphids will also be attracted to a diverse garden and will reduce pests that harm your plants. To control weeds, there are number of organic weed control products on the market. Removing weeds daily is the best way to control weed infestation.
Crop Rotation: To maintain rich and healthy soil, it is recommended that you rotate your crops. Crop Rotation involves planting crops so that plants and vegetables are not grown in the same spot each year. This will ensure that the ...