Monthly Archives: November 2011

How To Start An Organic Garden

I am sure that a person thinking about starting an organic garden can get overwhelmed by all the different directions found in books, articles and online.  But, the fact is you can get started with a garden of your own without a lot of fuss.

If you feel like you barely have time to plant a garden you may give up before you start if you think you have to build trellis’, neat little garden fences and just right garden paths.  All that looks good in the pictures, but it is not necessary to feed your family.

What do you need to get started?

To start a garden you will need dirt.  Makes sense doesn’t.  Actually, you will need a plot in your yard that is in the sun most of the day, does not sit in the lowest part of the yard where it will be wet all the time and will add to looks of your yard, not distract.

If you do not have a friend with a rototiller, there is an easy way to get your organic garden started.  It is best to start the fall before the spring you plan to plant your garden.

Stake out your garden plot and cover the ground with several layers of newspapers, better than throwing them in the trash.  Wet these down with water and cover with an old blanket, carpet, or leaves from the yard, whatever, to keep the paper in place and not allow any light to get onto the soil below.

What we want to do is kill all the grass in our garden plot so we will not have to fight with it for two or three more years.  Trust me, grass has a strong will to survive.  

When spring arrives

Early in the spring, long before you are ready to plant, remove the newspaper and whatever is covering it.  Keep the paper if it has not decomposed and use it later for mulch.  The reason is, if you do not remove the covering the soil will not dry out until the middle of summer and will be hard to work with.

As soon as the soil dries enough to turn over without making clods it is time to begin getting your hands dirty.  Either, have that friend with the rototiller come by, or get out the trusty shovel (I really prefer a good garden fork) and spade up the soil.  If you spade the garden, give it a few rain falls to loosen the soil before planting.

Finish soil prep

If you do not have a compost pile started you will need to purchase a few bags of compost from your local garden center.  Put about an inch of compost on the surface of the garden and work into the top of the soil.  Now you are ready to plant.

If you follow the above advice you can learn how to organic garden in your back yard, and then, you can start to add all the other features as you grow with your organic garden.

Great gardening,

Steve

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century.  Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul.  It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.  

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family.  Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

 

Nothing Beats Organic Vegetables

Are you tired of the taste of grocery store tomatoes? Nothing beats organic gardening vegetables…nothing. And, taste is not the only plus to eating organic, test after test show that organically grown vegetables are more nutritious for your family than chemically raised produce.

It has always seems strange to me that people will spend all, or more than, they can afford for a home, and their car has to be the best on the block. But, they buy the cheapest food they can find to put in their bodies.

Your conventional groceries you buy at the local grocery are trucked in from who knows where and are grown with chemicals. When I say they use chemicals I mean they use chemicals for everything.

The ground is prepared with a chemical fertilizer made from natural gas. There many minerals present on this earth and each plant needs it’s own combination to grow properly. Over time we have pulled these minerals out of the soil without replenishing all of them. Today many of our soils are deficient in certain minerals. This was even noted in congress of the US many years ago.

Then, there are pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides are used to keep your produce bug free and without blemish. We have been conditioned to look for produce and fruit without any bad spots. When, in reality, the food is just as good with a blemish on it as one without, and tons, maybe millions of tons, are thrown out every year because of some bump on the surface.

Herbicides kill weeds. You can tell a conventional crop field because it looks like plants growing on pavement, nothing growing in the field, but beans, corn or whatever. But, that is against nature. Everything has a purpose in nature and the chemicals have been shown to be a factor in all sorts of health problems.

Organic vegetables are just better for you. You do not have the chemicals to worry about and you are improving your nutrition. In one test organically grown cornmeal was shown to have significantly higher nutrition levels that conventionally grown cornmeal. For instance, the conventional cornmeal had 7.3 grams of protein, but the organic cornmeal contained 11.9 grams, quite a difference.

The best way to make sure you are getting the best nutrition for your family is to raise your own organic vegetables and fruit. You may think that sounds like a lot of work, but if you know how, gardening can be fun and rewarding. Plus, it can give you that exercise you have been planning to start.

Great gardening,

Steve

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

Organic Gardening – 4 Tips

One big advantage that organic gardeners have over the conventional garden is they do not have as many problems as they reach greater balance in their garden.  But, at the beginning it may seem that the conventional gardener has the upper hand because all they need to do is run to the garden store for the latest bug killer or herbicide and zap their problem.  In the following you will find a few tips to help you overcome your problems in the organic garden.

The following 4 tips will help you be better prepared this garden season.  The tips cover plant care, weeds, pests and harvest and replant.  They will help you grow safe, tasty and nutritious veggies for your family.

Plant care

Growing time is the time for watering and feeding.  It is best to check the plants growing habits to see how moist to keep the soil.  Some plants are different.  Most of the time you just want to add water ever couple of days to keep the soil in the root zone moist, but not wet.  Give your garden plants a little compost during the garden season, by carefully scratching it into the soil surface.

Weeds

That dirty word…weeds.  To some the weed is the thorn in the side for their garden, but it does not have to be that way.  Here are two big tips for weeding your garden.  One, mulch your garden with straw, leaves, grass clippings, newspaper or just about any organic material.  Place it under the plants as soon as they are big enough.  Second, walk through your garden every evening after work.  As you walk pull any weeds that stick their heads up through the mulch.  It will keep your garden weed free and lift your spirits at the same time.

Pests

We do not have enough space to cover all pest, so we will just cover a few.  Bugs are everywhere.  If you have a garden you have bugs.  Some bugs are good so we do not want to kill everything.  You can quickly hand pick, and place the bug in soapy water, as you are doing your daily garden walk.  

Row cover is a great invention.  It is available from your garden center and is placed over your veggies.  It lets in rain and light and keeps bugs out, works great.

Harvest and replant

Once, you have enjoyed your beans, or cabbage, or whatever don’t let that soil sit there and grow weeds.  Rake in a little compost and plant a different variety of vegetable and harvest again from the same spot.

Following these 4 tips for the organic garden will help you harvest more produce from your garden and have more fun while doing it.  Organic gardening is easy, once you learn how to do it.  Just remember to care for your growing plants, consistently take care of the pests and weeds and replant after you harvest.

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century.  Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul.  It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.  

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family.  Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

 

 

Organic Herb Garden

Life would be pretty dull without herbs. Growing your own organic herb garden can be a fun and rewarding hobby. Once you grow your own herbs you will never go back to the store bought herbs again. It is kinda’ like comparing a store bought tomato to a home grown tomato, there is no comparison.

Growing herbs is easier than growing a complete vegetable garden. Just in size and work alone there is a large difference. An organic herb garden is easy to maintain once it is in place and all you need to do is pick and prepare your herbs and enjoy tasty meals.

Herbs do not require a lot of fertility. In fact many herbs are more flavorful if grown in poorer soil. You will need to research the herbs you want to grow in your garden to properly provide the right growing conditions.

My top 5 recommended herbs

Basil is used in everything and is easy to grow. You can often find plants already started for you at your local nursery. Look for sturdy plants with good color. The soil for basil needs to be well fed with compost as it grows.

The soil should be well drained. When watering basil try not to get water on the leaves, but water around the base of the plant. Just keep the soil moist, but not damp.

Marjoram is grown in fertile soil in direct sunlight, but will tolerate a poorer soil. Sweet marjoram is used in a lot of meat dishes, but is also used in dressings. It is a pretty plant in the garden.

You can start marjoram from seed indoors about six weeks before the last frost date. Or, if you know someone who raises marjoram you can divide the plant for transplanting.

Chives are so easy it does not matter what color your thumb is you can grow chives. Many people keep a container of chives in the window sill for a constant supply.

Chives are an onion like plant that can be used in almost any dish. You just snip off the amount you want and it will grow back. If you want, you can grow it outside in the warm months and inside when it is to cold outside.

Oregano is an herb that I use a lot. It does not take much to add flavor. Oregano is not fussy about the soil, except you will want the location to be well drained. It can be started from seed indoors or directly in the soil, or it can be transplanted from another start.

Oregano is easy to grow and should be in your garden.

Sage is the old standby. Sage is used a lot with meats. It is an old fashion herb that has been in use for a long time. Sage likes a range of soil types as long as it gets lots of nitrogen. Sage will bush out and get up to 36 inches tall, so give it some elbow room. It, too, likes the sun.

That should get you started with your own organic herb garden. Most herbs really are easy to grow and maintain. I hope you will give them a try and good eating.

Great gardening,

Steve

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

Organic Garden Pesticide

I know, bugs can be a pain, but getting out the sprayer may not be the only answer. Occasionally, I will use a spray for a specific problem, but I usually look for a more natural way to approach the problem.

There are some “natural” pesticides that are approved for use in organic gardening and farming. But, even these have their side effects. It kinda’ like medicine for your body, for each medicine there is a side effect. You must decide if you want to live with the side effects or not.

I rarely use any man made product in my food production. I want my food to be as free of harmful substances as possible. Is it worth it? It is to me, is it to you?

If you will read the label, you should always read the label on everything; you will find that there are restrictions on most every pesticide, labeled for organic use, out there. If something can kill a fish or kill a bee, which I want in my garden, then what will it do to me or my kids?

If you do not use a solution in a bottle, what can you do?

There are many ways to fool Mother Nature and her bugs. For instance, when I started raising potatoes, where I now live, the potato bugs grew very fat off my potatoes every year, and I used a commercial spray to kill them. The problem was I had to spray several times every year.

When I decide to go organic I started picking the potato bugs off and dropping them in a jar with soap and water. It became a game. I would walk through the garden every evening after work and pick off the potato bugs and pull any new weeds. Killed two birds with one stone.

Within about three years the potato bugs were gone and there have been very few visit the potato patch since. Problem solved, beautiful potatoes, no bugs.

A great invention is row cover. Used to, the cabbage worm would eat the time out of the cabbage and broccoli. I just could not keep them out, even with spray. Then I found row cover. Row cover is a light fabric that floats over the vegetable that lets light in and keeps bugs out. Works great!

Now, right after planting I put the row cover over the row and no more bugs. Works for rabbits on the green beans, too.

These are just a few of the things you can do to grow your food organically without resorting to an organic garden pesticide. The result is you do need to be in your garden a little, which is good, but the results are great. The vegetables you grow will be almost blemish free and they will taste great. Plus, you will have the peace of mind that what your family is eating is the healthiest food on the planet.

Great gardening,

Steve

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

Instant Organic Garden

Can you really have an instant organic garden? It seems some people want the results of an organic garden and great food, but they do not want to do all that back breaking work to get the veggies they like.

Can you garden without all that work? That depends on what you call work. Sometimes that is translated as time. You don’t mind the labor it is just the fact that there is little time with the job and kids.

Let’s make gardening fun with little work and involve the kids, too.

I have never tried this, but believe it could work, buy bags of top soil, mix in a little compost and set out your plants. The bags of soil are punched with holes on the back side and slit open on the top side. Now, the bags can be placed on the patio or out in the grass in a sunny location.

Make sure you keep a close watch on the amount of water the plants receive. If it is very rainy they need to be able to drain well and if it doesn’t rain they can dry out very quickly. Other than that, they are almost maintenance free. This can be a great way to get an instant garden. Be sure to stake any tall plants like tomatoes and peppers.

If you are interested in a little larger garden consider building a raised bed. A raised bed is made by making a wood box out of 1 inch X 12 inch lumber. The lumber should be either cedar or pine. It is best not to use treated wood because of the chemicals used in preserving the wood. Cedar will last longer than pine, but it costs more and a 12 inch board in cedar is sometimes hard to find. You will be surprised how long a plan wood board will last. When it rots, just tear it out and build a new one.

Make your box about 3 foot wide and 8 foot long. It usually last longer if it is screwed together, but nails will do. Now, set your box in a sunny location and fill with topsoil. Mix a little compost in the top inch of the soil and start planting.

You can put a trellis on the back side, the one away from the sun, so it will not shade the smaller plants, and start planting. Most any vegetable will grow in your raised bed, but a large plant will take up a lot of your room, of course you can build more beds after you get started.

Again, water is a factor, because a bed will drain quickly. During periods with little rain you will need to check the bed often and water when necessary.

There you have two ideas for a very quick garden. You really have no excuse for not getting started. Just decide which method you are going to use and make it a weekend project. Let the kids help and they will enjoy the garden, too.

Great gardening,

Steve

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.

Feeding Birds In Winter

Many people enjoy watching birds. That is why so many people have a habit of feeding wild birds in winter, but do you realize that feeding the birds during the winter helps your garden in the summer?

That’s right. If you will take care of your feathered friends, in the cold of the winter when it is hard to find food, they will take care of you in the summer. They will pay you back for your kindness by eating insects that eat on your garden, and that is a win-win situation.

Let’s talk about the kinds of birds you will attract, what type of feeder to use and the pest you will encounter.

What kinds of birds will you attract?

The type of bird will depend on the area where you live. I live in the Mid-West, so I have Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, and on occasion I will be visited by a Flicker, Junco, Finches, and other visitors.

Many of these birds will stay in the summer to help with the insect control, but some will move farther north to breed.

You can get a manual to identify your birds or look them up on the internet.

Bird feeders

No need to get carried away on the feeders. I have one old home made wood feeder that a friend gave me that the birds love. I purchased a pretty plastic feeder and it took a long time for the birds to accept it.

You can even feed the birds on the ground, if you do not have cats and want to go outside every day.

Pest

As with anything, you will have uninvited guest, one of the most famous is the squirrel. Squirrels are fun to watch and are ingenious at figuring out how to get into your bird feeder. If they decide to make your feeder a priority there is not much that will keep them out.

There are “squirrel proof” bird feeders, but sometimes the squirrels are smarter than the designers. One thing you can do is to feed the squirrels corn as soon as they start to get into your feeders. That may keep them away for awhile. There is nothing like a motivated squirrel. I just move my feeder to another location, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

If deer find your feeder you will have to move the feeder, as they will clean out your feeder every night. That does not make the birds or squirrels happy.

Feeding wild birds in winter can be worth the trials when summer comes and it is time to garden. It is fun the watch the wild birds in winter and summer and the amount of garden pest they can eat is huge.

So, get out your bird feeder, pick up a bag of bird feed and get started.

Great gardening,

Steve

Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only, grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.

Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.