With the garden season ramping up just about now I thought that perhaps now would be a good time to start this. The intention here is not to say "I
know all about it" because I don't, not by a long shot. This is an attempt to give someone just starting out some of what I feel are basic
considerations and a spring board to learn more about it. With the threat of possible food shortages and the ever present concerns over GMO foods, I
felt it was important to let folks know that home gardening is relatively easy to do and is going to be even more important than ever before. I
welcome everyone's input here because while I've been doing this for a long time, no one can know everything.
Everywhere I have lived that I have planted a garden I've done one thing first. Watched the sun move across the location I thought would be a good
place for a garden. The sun is your friend but can also be an enemy if the spot gets too much sun. I try to pick a spot that gets a lot of morning
sun and then partial shade in the afternoon when the sun is at it's highest and can do the most damage to tender plants. If you have no place like
that not to worry, you can rig a 'shade' by driving posts into the ground, driving a nail into the top of each post and put losely woven burlap over
the nails to hold it in place. This will allow the sun to come through while providing some shade as well as letting the rain pass through it.
No Yard?? No Problem!!! Alternatives to the 'traditional' garden plot
If you have an area that has been landscaped try planting some veggies or herbs in with your landscaping or make your garden your landscaping! Here
is an edible landscaping website that sells non GMO plants. This website was given to me by a new friend here on ATS while discussing home
preservation of food. Edible Landscaping
If you are limited on space you can also try a container garden, which is something that I am going to impliment this year right off my back steps
since I have an unused 5x8 plot of land that would be perfect for use as a culinary/medicinal herb garden done in containers.
Be creative, if the "will" is there, the solution will show itself!
If even a container garden is not possible and you are still concerned with GMO's invading your dinner plate head off to the farmers markets and make
friends with the farmers who grow non GMO foods or join a CSA program that for a small fee will provide a periodic (usually weekly) supply of fresh
off the farm goodies. They usually also will allow (or may be a requirement when buying into the program) you to come out and tend to the crops,
which supplies a new gardener the opportunity to gain valuable experience before trying it out on their own. Here is a good site showing Farmers
Markets and CSA's all over the USA
Local Harvest: Farmers Markets and CSAs in the USA
Once you've located the spot for your garden it's important to know what kind of soil you have. It goes beyond just "is it sandy? Is it clay?"
Every part of the US has different minerals and compounds in it that may play an evil role when growing your garden and every location will have
different amendments needed to have a thriving garden plot. My best advice here would be to have your soil tested to see just whats in it and what it
may need in order to get the results you are looking for. For a very nominal fee your local Cooperative Extension can test your soil for you and
provide you with a report along with suggestions on what you can do to get your little Garden of Eatin' into tip top shape. Here is a website that
will point you in the right direction to your local Cooperative Extension as well as a little info on soil testing.
Cooperative Extension Locator
Soil Testing Info
For me, this is the really important part. I have rather strong ideas about the seeds. It is my belief that in order to get the best results you
need to start out with premium stock and for me that means non GMO heirloom seeds. Results not withstanding with non GMO seeds you also have the
ability to harvest the seeds from your current crop and save them for planting the next season or saving for several years. This not only allows you
peace of mind knowing where your crops originate from but will also cut the costs in future years as you will not have to put out additional money
every year in seed purchases.
When looking for suppliers of non GMO seeds or started plants, do research on your supplier before you purchase. Make sure that the companies you buy
from have signed the "safe seed pledge" that guarantees what they are selling are safe from GMOs or at the very least they are doing the best they
can in order to keep GMOs out of the food chain. Sometimes you will have to dig deep in order to find this out... just because it says the seeds are
organic does not mean they may not have been tampered with. An example I used in an earlier post is Burpee. They have a line of organic seeds, which
is great. But considering Burpee gets their seed stock from a company called Seminis which is owned by Monsanto is a little suspect in my opinion. I
prefer heirloom seeds from smaller companies. Here is a couple that I use:
Comstock, Ferre Co., LLC
Nicols Garden Nursery
Seed Savers Exchange
Please note these are just the one's that I have relied upon for years. There are many terrific companies out there that provide non GMO/heirloom
seeds for sale. Do what is best for you and you cannot go wrong.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Especially in the beginning watering is very important to make sure your newly planted garden does not dry out. Once the garden is established it
becomes a matter of maintenance to make sure everything has enough to drink. One tip that I have found that works great for me is laying down soaker
hoses along the rows of plants and then covering the aisles, not the rows, with mulch that has not been treated with any chemicals. This way I can
turn on the soaker hoses on a slow drip for a couple of hours to get everything damp (less water usage) and the mulch will help to keep the moisture
from evaporating too quickly. Just be sure to check under the mulch from time to time to make sure their is no mold, mildew or fungus' growing under
there that will damage your crops especially if you have had a lot of rain. The mulch also serves to help keep those pesky weeds in your aisles to a
There are several publications out there that I have found to be very very useful over the years and would suggest looking into if you are really
going to get into gardening, preserving your harvest or just being good stewards of this 3rd rock from the sun. There are many, but these 3 have
proven over and over again to be lifesavers for me.
Countryside Magazine and Small Stock Journal
Mother Earth News
I would love it if people would consider this a thread to share ideas on all things gardening like companion plantings, natural fertilizers, critter
control, tips and tricks... you name it as it pertains to gardening.
There are many many reasons people start a garden these days for me it is about the satisfaction watching it grow and produce as well as providing me
with a stress reliever and a break from all the doom and gloom that washes over me from time to time with all the unrest in the world today. Whatever
your reasons are, or may become, I wish you all the best in your gardening endeavours.
Thanks for reading what turned into a mega posting.... and please feel free to add to it.