Tag Archive | "organic gardening"

Organic Vegetables

5 Organic Vegetables which are Easy to Grow

This guest post is by James Christie who writes for Thomson Local.

Organic vegetables are a healthy food source because they are grown in a natural way. They are also good for the environment, because no potentially harmful chemicals are used in producing them.

Broccoli 

Broccoli is vegetable that can be grown indoors from seed. If being harvested in the summer, seedlings should be planted when they are no more than four weeks old. For an autumn harvest, seedlings should be four-six weeks old before being planted. Broccoli will do well in a sunny area of the garden and in fertile soil. Seedlings should be planted from 18 to 20 inches apart.

Radishes

Radishes are a fast growing vegetable and should be sown from the beginning of spring to the late summer. They can be grown in pots or grown from seed in a garden or allotment. The seed spacings should be about an inch apart. Radishes are plants that will thrive in shade, but do need to be watered in particularly dry spells.

Beetroot

Beetroot is another vegetable that can be planted directly from seed, and will thrive in fertile soil and sunshine. Seeds should be planted between April and July. There should be a gap of roughly four inches between the seeds, with two seeds planted together. Beetroot can be grown in pots, and are a plant that requires care in terms of weeding and watering.

Lettuce

Lettuce is a vegetable that is ideal to grow in the UK because it loves cool weather and the rain. Lettuces will do well when grown near other vegetables that provide the vegetable with shade. Several seeds should be sown in the same spot, with a space of six inches between each sowing, which should be done in a drill. Different types of lettuce are grown at different months of the year, but most will mature in the summer months.

Potatoes

From seed, most types of potato should be sown in containers, such as egg boxes, in mid-February, and planted in the ground about a month later. The weakest growths should be removed before planting. Potatoes should be placed in rows in an area where they’ll receive lots of sunshine, and with a gap of at least a foot between each. One easy way of growing organic potatoes is to save several that have been bought for consumption, and then sow them directly into the ground.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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2 Sustainable Methods For Improving Your Garden Soil

2 Sustainable Methods For Improving Your Garden Soil

This guest post is by Phil Nauta, the Smiling Gardener.

Naturally Earth Friendly is all about moving towards a more sustainable future, so when I was given an opportunity to write about how to improve your soil, I decided to focus on two of the most sustainable methods.

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There are other methods I still advocate, such as bringing in organic fertilizer in order to get your food garden producing healthier, tasty food more quickly than would otherwise happen, but I know we can’t keep digging up rock deposits and shipping them around the world as fertilizer forever.

We need more local solutions, starting in our own backyards. So here are my two favorites:

1. Cover Crops

You may have heard of them before, but perhaps not in the context of sustainability. Cover crops are seeded mostly during the fallow season in a vegetable garden, generally to improve the soil. Grasses such as ryegrass and legumes, such as vetch, are especially useful for this.

Once you figure out the best cover crops for your soil, and get good at growing and managing them (which may only take a couple of seasons to figure out), you now have:

  • Fertilizer. A decent fertilizer supplying carbon and nitrogen to your soil, along with some other minerals, when you turn the crop in before planting your food plants.
  • Mulch. An excellent mulch layer when you allow at least some of the crop to grow big before you cut it, and then leave it on top of the soil (grasses are great for this).
  • Compost. A great source material for your compost bin, because otherwise composting can be rather unsustainable if you’re having to import materials all the time, or import compost itself.

So with a good cover crop, you have part of your fertilizer, your mulch and your compost pile growing for you right on site.

2. Homemade Microbial Inoculant

There’s always a lot of talk about supplying enough nutrients to the garden, which is important, but I’m excited to see that people are starting to refer more to the other side of the equation, which is supplying beneficial microorganisms.

These microbes are the ones who feed those nutrients to our plants, and also protect our plants from predators. And more often than not, these organisms are lacking more than the nutrients. Fortunately, we can bring them back into our gardens. The best way is well-made compost, but there isn’t usually enough compost around.

That’s why aerated compost tea is becoming more popular, which is when you put a few handfuls of good compost into a bucket of water and move air through that bucket with a pump. That physically removes the microorganisms from the compost and gives them air to breathe.

When you also give them some food, such as a couple of tablespoons each of liquid kelp and blackstrap molasses, they will multiply tremendously over the course of a day or two.

But I’ve written about compost tea elsewhere and I’m not going to get into it today because I’d like to offer another solution – it’s admittedly not quite as biologically diverse of an inoculant as compost tea, but it’s much easier to do well and certainly more sustainable because you don’t need any equipment. Anyone can do this if they have access to rice and milk.

What you do is rinse a small amount of rice and pour that rinse water into a container, leaving the container at least 50% empty and putting on a loose lid so that air can still get in. The rice can be used elsewhere, but is not needed anymore for this process. Keep the container at room temperature out of the sun for 7 days.

Once you see a thin film on the surface, strain the liquid into a bigger container and add ten times as much milk. In another week or so you may have some solids floating on top that can go into the soil or compost, and a clear, yellow fluid underneath that contains the bacteria. Separate this fluid into another container and add an equal amount of unsulphured molasses to keep the bacteria well fed.

You’ve now made your own microbial inoculant! You can store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Mix it with 20 parts water and spray it on plants, soil and compost to inoculate them with these beneficial microorganisms.

These 2 methods go a long way to sustainably building up your soil fertility, organic matter and soil food web, so you can grow healthy plants and healthy food.

Sidenote: Phil Nauta is author of the book ‘Building Soils Naturally‘, to be released by Acres U.S.A. this summer. He’s a SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional who taught for Gaia College and operated successful organic fertilizer and organic gardening businesses prior to launching SmilingGardener.com in order to teach practical organic home gardening and organic vegetable gardening methods to home gardeners.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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Organic Gardening Without A Yard

Organic Gardening Without A Yard – A How To

This guest post is by Janet Lynch of ChefsDiet.com.

Today, many people are going back to more natural things in their lives. This can include eating a healthier diet, working out more, and getting fresh air by taking part in fun and productive activities such as gardening.

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In fact, one popular way to spend time, while also including health related benefits, is to participate in organic gardening. The veggies that are produced while doing so can give you a sense of accomplishment, while at the same time giving your body a whole host of good healthy home grown foods.

Image: Shamanic Shift via Flickr

Working Around Certain Obstacles – No Yard, No Problem!

While organic gardening can yield many benefits, one drawback to even starting such an activity is finding the adequate space in which to do so – especially if your living quarters do not include a yard.

But never fear – there are several ways to work around this seemingly negative barrier – and the potential solutions may be easier and more cost effective than you think. The truth is that fresh vegetables can be grown in a very small area – provided that you are able to improvise just a bit.

One solution is to build a small garden area out of boards. For example, you can create a raised bed by using four boards – all the same length and height. By nailing the boards together to form a large square, you will have a set gardening area. Certainly, depending on the length of these boards, you can create your make-shift garden to be as big or as small as your space allows.

If you aren’t the handy man or woman type and creating your planting space just isn’t your thing, you could make it even easier on yourself by simply using an old tire or other similar item that will allow for some space to plant in the middle.

Do you need an even smaller garden area? If so, then even a large windowsill can do the trick – while producing a surprisingly hefty amount of veggies from right inside your kitchen! In this case, plastic pots or even a small wooden box can fit the bill for what will be needed.

Putting Your Garden Into Place

Image: Cecilia Macaulay via Flickr

Once you have created your growing spot, place it on a flat and level space. This could include a deck or even a concrete patio. When the mobile garden is in place, you can then begin filling it with potting soil. One of the best suggestions is to use black dirt.

After you have completed the building and filling of your small garden, you will be well on your way to the planting stage. At this time, just as with any other type of gardening, there are some tips that will need to be followed. These include:

Water Frequently

Water is important to all garden crops – and especially so for those that are growing in smaller and defined containers. It is important, though, to find that fine line between providing the essential amount of hydration while not over-watering. In fact, drowning is estimated to be the number one reason why container-grown plants can suffer.

Allow the Plants to Drain

One way to solve the over-watering issue is to ensure that your crops have a way to drain off the excess water or moisture. With your self-made plant container, then, it is imperative that you drill holes in the bottom to allow for the runoff. If your garden space is outdoors, you could give it an extra raise by placing one or two bricks along the four corners, allowing for water to easily drain out.

Provide Nourishment Regularly

Just like people, your plants need nutrition to help them grow. So, the proper type and amount of fertilizer is essential to your garden’s success. Unlike more traditional garden “crops,” the nutrients in your smaller space are likely to be washed away more quickly – presenting the need for more water-based types of fertilizer. Depending on just how many plants you have, you will be able to come up with the proper mix of plant nutrients and water. Then, be sure to sprinkle your crops at least two times per week in order to obtain a well fed harvest.

Good Fresh Organic Eats!

Gardening can be a great activity that yields many benefits including exercise, fresh air, and healthy foods to boot! Even those without a yard should not be prevented from enjoying the numerous advantages that can be had.

In addition, on top of enjoying the fruits – and vegetables – of your labor, one of the best parts about having an organic garden is the eco-friendly décor that it can add to your deck, patio, balcony, or even windowsill!

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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