Tour of Our Garden – Sept. 8, 2012

We’ve had quite the drought this summer in Nebraska, but I’m incredibly grateful for everything that’s still holding on for dear life in our garden…How is YOUR garden doing?

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Grow your OWN natural produce at home

One family’s backyard vegetable garden.

In this post, guest author Peter McAllister shares with us why it’s important to start your own garden. He also explains a few of the first steps you’ll need to take to transition your yard from grass to produce.

So what about you? Do you grow your own food? If so, why do you think it’s important? What tips do you have for others who are just getting started? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below….
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“There is growing awareness about the level of chemical fertilizers and pesticides going into our fresh produce. Commercial producers of fruit and vegetables often use chemical fertilizers and pesticides to control the yield and health of their crops. From the producer’s perspective they want the highest yields with the lowest losses to pests possible because their business is more profitable this way.

However, there is growing awareness about some of the adverse effects of the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Because of this, a growing number of consumers are choosing to eat organically produced fruit and vegetables. This can be done either by purchasing organic produce from stores or growing your own produce.

Adverse effects of the use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides

  • Chemical poisons are carried on through the food chain and can have a knock on effect in harming animals.
  • When you eat fruit and vegetables that have had chemical pesticides applied to them you too are ingesting this poison.
  • The production of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has a far greater impact on the global environment than natural substances.

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is easier than you may think. All it takes is a well maintained growing patch that receives ample sunlight, water and nutrients.

How to set up your own vegetable patch

The first thing you want to consider is the position of the vegetable patch. The position of your growing area will vastly affect the yield you gain. One of the biggest considerations is sunlight. You want to position your growing area so that it achieves the most sunlight possible throughout the day. You can do this as scientifically or as instinctively as you like. One way of accurately measuring the sunlight exposure your garden gets is to set up a camera at a fixed point that has a good overall view. Once an hour take a picture of your yard for an entire day. You can then look at these pictures in a “timeline” to see which areas have the most sun for longest over the course of a day. Or, if this is not your style, you can set up the growing area in a position that you know has good general light exposure (at least 6 hours for most vegetables).

Once you have decided upon an area in which to grow your produce you need to set it up properly. If you just dig up some earth and plant seeds, the chances are you will get less than satisfactory results.

Rotavators/tillers make working the soil much easier!

The first thing to do is mark out the area you want to have designated for growing. You can then lift up the grass (if there is any) by using a turf cutter to cleanly remove the top grass layer. The next stage is to prepare the bed for planting. The best way to do this is to circulate and loosen up the soil. This can be done manually by digging or automatically using a rotavator.

Add organic fertilizer/compost to your garden!

For optimal results you will also want to mix in some organic fertilizer with this soil. The type of compost/fertilizer you use will differ depending on what you want to grow. For example, tomatoes require a high amount of nitrogen, where as carrots/peas are not as dependent on this nutrient. Ask at your local garden centre to get the most appropriate fertilizer mix for your purposes.

Growing can be a tricky procedure and you will learn as you go along. Over time your yields should get bigger and your plants’ health improve. Growing your own food is not only rewarding but also fun; eating food you have grown from scratch yourself is endlessly more rewarding than going to the grocery store.”

About the Author

Peter McAllister is employed by SGM contracts who supply equipment and services such
as
 rotavators for sale. We support sustainable living and like to encourage green projects such as home food growing. For more information see http://www.sgm-uk.com

Tour of Chad & Christy’s Gardens – June 13, 2012

Side view of Main Garden

Picking peas taller than me!

We are so grateful to have enough land for two large gardens at our home right in the middle of the city, and we just LOVE bringing our harvest straight to our dinner table! I thought I’d take a minute to share some photos of what’s growing in our gardens, so far, this season. I’d love to hear what you are growing, too, so leave a comment  below to tell me about your growing adventure!

Our gardens have changed a lot since we dug our first hole just five short years ago. That first season, our garden consisted of only a few tomato and pepper plants we purchased at a local farmers market. The following year, we built four 4’x4′ raised beds and grew a variety of vegetables using the methods of Square Foot Gardening. We loved it so much that by the end of the season, we built 3 more beds – and started growing our own plants from seeds! You can check out that garden of ours by clicking here! The following year (last year), we moved to a new house with much more land, and we created the “Main Garden” pictured above. This year, we expanded to the other side of our property and planted an additional, slightly smaller garden (as you’ll see below).

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Sugar snap pea harvest

MORE PHOTOS OF MAIN GARDEN (GARDEN #1)

Watermelon plant

Tomato plants – We use a “Florida Weave” technique to stake our plants, rather than using tomato cages.

From left: onions, bell peppers, potatoes (We use the a “Florida Weave” staking method instead of cages for the peppers.)

From left: Lettuce, Green Beans, Peas

Harvesting lettuce. Summer squash and zucchini seeds are planted in the empty bed to the left.

Fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, chives

Tomato (left) and basil plants

Cucumbers growing up a trellis

Cucumber will be ready to eat SOON!

Potatoes – I knew potatoes grew underground, but I had NO idea (until planting some last year) that they had THIS much foliage above ground!

PHOTOS OF GARDEN #2

Side view of Garden #2. We used pine mulch for the pathways in this garden.

Cabbage

Tomatoes

Cauliflower (front row)

Cilantro – My FAVORITE fresh herb!!!!