Grow Your Way to Better Health!
You too can have a green thumb garden - Organically!
I never fails, when I talk to folks about my gardening habit, they always ask me the same questions:
1. You have such a green thumb; how do your plants to grow so well?
2. Isn’t it expensive to grown all these?
3. How do you find the time?
And my favorite: 4. Why not just use (insert some form of chemical here)… wouldn’t it be easier?
Okay, here’s the answers:
First: My plants grow well because I pay attention to what each plant needs and give it to them. Simple huh?All plants need a combination of sun, water, and nutrient rich soil… all in varying degrees and amount, depending which plant. I love gardening and take the time to learn what each of my plants needs to live the best life it can, then I give it to them. House plants, potted trees I’ve grown from seeds, the pineapple I started from the top of a store bought fruit six years ago, and my organically grown veggies all have different needs.
Second: Expensive, no! Many of my plants I have started from seeds or cuttings. I exchange cuttings with friends and neighbors, and seeds I collect from all over. Look for things you like and ask people to give you a cutting or if they have seeds you can share; look for mature seeds on or near plants or that are growing in other gardens, yards or parks. When you grow vegetables and fruits, always let at least some of your plants go completely mature to seed and collect those for the next season. This is also a foundation step in organic gardening.
Third, I find the time to work with plants because I find it is relaxing, excellent exercise, and very rewarding. Start small in a few pots or a small bed and spend only a few minutes a week. Once you are ready to go bigger, you can always find a few extra minutes here and there to water, weed or harvest. Think of those few minutes as valuable as time spent at the spa or therapist, the gym and the grocery. It is just as valuable and much more rewarding.
Fourth: I use organic gardening techniques because it is just plain healthier, and because it is what my Grandma taught me decades ago. Grandma was an AMAZING old farm lady. She grew up on an Ozark farm and then had eight children during the Great Depression that she kept fed mostly with the blessings of her own hands. Even as an old lady, she kept gardening and made sure I understood her tricks. Organic gardening is keeping a family tradition, one that was the basis of family life for thousands of years, alive.
Containier Grown Organic Cucumbers
Organic Gardening is Healthier for Four Main Reasons
When you garden organically, you greatly reduce your exposure to pesticides, which have been linked to many severe health problems.
- Organically-grown food is packed with a higher concentration of nutrients than food grown using conventional modern methods.
- Organic gardeners tend to use work their areas with hand tools and avoid machines powered by petrol chemicals as much as possible. Gardeners tend to get more exercise and burn more calories, but not always. Right now I am living in an apartment with a small patio, so all of my gardening is done in containers… not much physical work involved.
- Organic gardening is better for the planet, and every living thing on her!
- Organic gardeners use natural methods to rid their gardens of pests and diseases, and pay more attention to keeping healthy soils. Healthy soils mean healthy plants, and healthy plants are much less likely to have pests and diseases to start with.
There's actually system of therapy used to help people become physically and emotionally fit at the same time: horticultural therapy. Like any type of regular physical activity, gardening can help reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis and stroke. Plus its fun, and you get to eat the final product. Nothing beats the feeling of tasting your first homegrown tomatoes!
Gardening rejuvenates the soul; it's relaxing to feel the sun on your back as you plant, weed or water. Just the feeling hands in the soil, tending seedlings or putting fingers and toes in mud brings out the peacefulness of what life is meant to be. Gardening can connect you to the natural rhythms of the earth and its cycles in a way that nothing else really can. Watching the seedlings you plant grow to adulthood and finally seeing them on your own kitchen table nourishing your family is one of the easiest and most positive ways to become more self sufficient and personally responsible. Organic gardening even more so.
It's Easy too!
Gone are the days when you had to have a large lot and a great big stinky compost pile in the back to do organic gardening. Two of the fastest and easiest methods of home gardening are in containers and raised beds. Wonderful organic potting soil mixes are available at every nursery, home improvement store, or the lawn and garden department at your local big box store. I buy mine at Wal~Mart because I find they have the best prices in my area. You can use almost anything as a container... even the bag the potting mix comes in or black trash bags.. The big plastic bins that are used for storage are great for veggies, just drill several holes in the bottom about 2 inches part for good drainage.
There are several organic fertilizers available as well; I prefer fish emulsions. Yes, they stink. But if fish worked for Squanto, I figure I can't go wrong with it. Of course, you can always just plant in your scraps from a fishing day if you have them. Now really a compost pile you can tend is the best bet, but, and even in an apartment, I still save coffee grounds and tea bags to mix in the soil from time to time. Tea bags should be opened and emptied. Rinse and crush egg shells and chop up you banana peels. Keep all this stuff in an old coffee can with a few hole in the lid for air to get in. Once a week or so, just work it into the top of your soil. REMEMBER: Never put any meat or dairy in the mix. It will get really nasty and actually attracts more insects.
My two favorite methods of pest control are to shower my plants with water - this just knocks the insects off; and to use a dish soap and water spray. This puts a film on the plants that repels many insects, including aphids.
Coming up in this Hub series
In the next few Hubs in this series, some of the topics I will discuss are:
- Why Organically Grown Food is More Nutritious
- Health Concerns Related to Synthetic Pesticide and Herbicide use
- Home Recipes for Pest Control
- Commercially Available Products for the Organic Home Gardener
If you have a question or comment on any of these topics, please let me know. Also, feel free to suggest a topic for a Hub. I am here to share information... just let me know what interests you!