Organic Vegetable Gardening for the Streamlined Life

I love fresh vegetables! But, I want to know they are safe for me and my family. While many grocery stores now have small organic produce sections, who wants to go to the store every couple of days for fresh veggies? Not me! That’s why I’m planning and posting about organic vegetable gardening for the streamlined life.

You might be thinking “it’s only February and it’s COLD outside, way too early to plant anything” and you’d be right (unless you have a greenhouse), BUT it is the right time to start planning and preparing for your organic garden.

Find Space For Your Garden

So, if you want a garden, look around at the space you have available and start dreaming about all the yummy veggies you would like to eat this summer.

Years ago I lived on 50 acres and had a ready supply of organic “fertilizer” dutifully supplied by our many farm animals (namely 60 sheep, 40 goats, and 25 chickens). If you have plenty of land and organic fertilizer, good for you! You can till up your garden area, work in the fertilizer, and plant whatever your heart desires.

Gardening In Small Spaces

Things are a bit different, however, for those of us who live in suburbia. You can still have some fresh veggies if you have a small yard, or even if you live in a condo or apartment. I remember my grandfather lived in a condominium for about 10 years. He grew 4-6 tomato plants every year in pots he set on top of the block fence behind his unit.

If you have a back yard or a patio you, too, can grow some produce. There are many methods for gardening in small spaces.  One of my favorites is detailed in the book “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew. Another favorite is raised beds. You can literally have a garden anywhere you have dirt!

 

If you have the space to build some garden beds, you might want to consider raised beds. This is more expensive than just digging up some ground and planting, but you can make them permanent if you want to, which would be a real time-saver later on. My first raised beds were wood and built 8 feet long by 3 feet wide and about 32 inches high. They were pretty much perfect. No kneeling and very little bending required. But, as I said, this is the expensive option and it does require some space.

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This year, since I live in suburbia, I am going to plant my vegetable garden in my backyard flower beds. I think it will work very well.  Last year I planted yams in there and had a good crop. In addition, I am going to try something new! My husband found a plywood shipping box and I thought it might be perfect for a container garden. He added some old wheels off of a broken furniture dolly and some handles so I can easily push it where I want it.

Prepare Your Soil

So, now that I have space for a garden I need to make sure that my soil is good before I plant anything. The quality of the soil has a huge impact on the quality and nutritive value of the vegetables. I am going to put organic bedding mix in my container garden and add some other organic nutrients. For the raised flower beds I am going to work some organic bedding mix into the soil, as well as some worm castings available at a local farmers market.

If you have grass that has not been treated with chemicals, you can add the clippings to the soil now so they can start breaking down. Add some leaves if you have them. Coffee grounds are good, too, as they add nitrogen to the soil. Organic fertilizer is available at most large home improvement stores. Adding organic materials to the soil now will prepare it well for planting in the next few months, especially if the fertilizer is “hot.”

Let’s Do This!

Now is the time to start preparing. This week plan where you want your garden, make a list of veggies you would like to grow, and start preparing your soil.

In the next Organic Gardening post we will look at which vegetables grow well together and which pairings to avoid. As this series progresses, I will update you with photos of my own efforts and hopefully give you plenty of ideas.

Please share your comments below.

Happy gardening!

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