Thursday, August 29, 2013

Organic Gardening

When it comes to my garden, I am very strict about what will and won't be used in it. I do not want chemicals in my food, plain and simple. I use only organic heritage seeds. There will never be anything that is GMO that is growing in MY garden I promise you that! I've had LOTS of people ask me for advice, so here is where you come in. What do you want to know? I have been most successful at container gardening and companion planting with square foot gardening techniques. Let me guess, you have no idea what that means? Neither did I until I started doing my research! As they say in The Princess Bride "Let me, there is too much...let me sum up!"

Container gardening is when most everything you grow is NOT in the ground. That's right...I don't till my garden, I don't have to rip up weeds and start completely fresh every year. (Especially since we have LOTS of clay earth around here...that would be a lot of enriching of the soil each and every year...) I have raised garden beds and I have lots and lots of larger pots that I use to garden. I repeat, NO TILLING NECESSARY with this method. Cool, right?

Companion planting is where you plant different plants next to or near each other that benefit from the other. Whether it is for pest control or optimal growing, companion planting is AWESOME!

Square Foot gardening is exactly what it sounds like. You plant different plants within a square foot of the other (or as close to it as you can get.)

When you plan it right, you end up with a very successful garden!

This is what my garden looked like in the first few weeks of growth.
Here in Oregon, we still get frosts until later in April, so I generally don't plant my garden until mid to late April, sometimes even early May. This year I took a chance and did it in mid April, and it was successful!

This is my garden now. Can we say, grown much?
I am no expert, I am still learning, but one thing that has been my biggest learning curve...has been corn. My first year, I planted it somewhere that it ended up not getting enough sun so it didn't produce. The second year it got destroyed by aphids! This year, I finally grew successful corn, only to find out that the tough and doesn't have much flavor to it at all. Talk about a bummer! But, at least I have learned from my mistakes and now I know that I need to find a better seed strain for next year!

I am also a firm believer that we should teach our kids where our food comes from, they shouldn't believe that it just comes from a store because if that's how they think, then they can never be self sufficient.

My oldest two daughters get their own garden area this year. They planted green beans, tomatoes and we had a mystery plant. We had no idea what it was...until now!
Green Beans that they planted per Mom's request. (Mom ran out of room in her area!)

Another thing I have learned is that tomatoes like to grow in the same space. I had tomatoes in here three years ago, and low and behold, I had multiple tomato plants start to grow that I never planted this year! I decided to save a couple of them for the girls. :) The far right was the mystery plant, it was either Broccoli or Cauliflower but there would be no way to know which until it came to a head. (Which is funny since I didn't plant any broccoli or cauliflower starts!)

Now we know! It's broccoli! The head is just starting to form, so we just have to make sure it has lots of water and lots of nutrients so that it doesn't bolt and flower!
 So here is where I need YOU! What questions about gardening do you have? Ask me anything, pest control, companion planting, soil enrichment, ANYTHING! If I don't know it, I generally have ways of finding out! (Yes, I'm a nerd who reads gardening books for fun!)


  1. Our plants grew to a certain point this year and then have just sat there... basically doing nothing, especially the peppers and pumpkins. We brought in all of our dirt and made a raised garden bed, and this year we added a TON of organic material to help it out... any tips? If you do everything organically, what do you use to fertilize? p.s. You're lucky only getting frosts through April... we usually can't plant until Memorial weekend.

    1. To fertilize I use a combo of methods. At the beginning of the season I enrich the soil using certified organic mulch that I get from a local landscaping company. As the season goes on, I use a seasoned (more than 3 months old) horse manure. I don't mix that into the soil, just place around the base of the plants and water well. Are your plants flowering/fruiting at all? Or did they not germinate properly? Peppers, in my experience, don't really take off until after their first harvest. After that mine tend to explode! Pumpkins and things like that require lots of nutrients, and especially lots of water (since they are made of mostly water!) When you are in a desert area where you get TONS of sun, then you have to supplement with extra water. Also make sure you do your heavy soaks at night so that it has longer to absorb the water into the roots rather than it evaporating in the hot sun of the day. If you are getting flowers then they should fruit (but they will wither if they don't get enough water). If you are not flowering, again, try adding more water, and if that doesn't work, then add some nitrate rich food (manure or mulch, you can get both from any store, or check around with local farms, most are happy to give it away for free!). If none of that works, then I will need to do some research to find out what is going on with your pesky plants. ;)