Growing vegetables the easy way
Playing the game of nature
We have been trying with the kids different projects in small container and backyard gardening these two past years. Some of the results have worked, some didnÂ´t, but we had a lot of fun in the process.
I am not a farmer, nor have the slightest idea of what I am doing. Just research a bit here and there, and usually do not follow the instructions. This plant on the left is a pumpkin plant, grown from seeds of a a pumpkin we ate (and bought at the grocery store).
So... if I see results, chances are you will have much bigger results than me. :)
I did came up with a couple or rules, that are quite different from what people usually say when dealing with plants. I donÂ´t know if I am right or not, so far they work, and they feel right with my whole "empathic" life philosophy.
In this lens you will see what I found out and the results in my garden.
First rule of the game... play the odds
If you are like me, you probably spend most of your time in the grocery store in the vegetable isle. No mater how tempting packaged food is, once you start looking closer it is pretty much all toxic. And it is kind of stupid to spend money to poison yourself - or at least thatÂ´s how I see it.
Many of those fruits and vegetables we get from the grocery store can be grown at home one way or anther starting from the plants we buy. And if they have the potential and donÂ´t... well, it is a good moment to look for another provider.
So my first rule for easy gardening is: play the odds.
What do I mean with this?
Take the seeds from fruits and vegetables you eat every day and put them in pots or through them to the ground in a special spot just for this.
All of them? YES! All of them!
Nature will decide what can be grown for your particular conditions of soil, humidity, etc. And will also decide when the conditions are met for growing a new plant. You just need to be thankful for what it comes, and enjoy. :)
I threw another group of pumpkin seeds on my back yard, look on the right to see what I found... this pumpkin on the right is pretty much of the size of a flute.
Right down here, you have a cute tomato plant that came out of "throw and forget" seeds as well. I think she is beautiful. :)
Upside-down tomato germination
Second rule of the game... re-purpose
There are many forms to re-purpose when it comes to gardening.
The first one is: do not kill the weeds.. eat them!
Yes, I mean it... dandelion, sow thistle, wild lettuce. They come out of the blue and plague your garden. Instead of buying plant killer and poison YOUR garden, pick them up and make a nice salad or omelet with them.
Well, why not? They are edible, and highly nutritious. Dandelion taste is a bit bitter, but after boiling they turn out really well.
What message are we sending to the Universe when we kill those plants that are good for us?
The second way to re-purpose is to use plants in a non intended way. What do I mean by this? Beats can be planted and the leaves are edible. Plant your beats and you will have greens for omelets right in your garden. See down here for my beats, I keep taking the leaves out and they grow back.
Same can be done with basil. Have you noticed they come with roots? Apparently celery is in the same wagon, but I havenÂ´t tried it yet.
The third form to re-purpose is to plant the plants that grow roots. Sometimes you have potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, even ginger... you forget about them, and the next time you look the garden has moved itself to the kitchen cabinet.
Do not throw them away, they want to live!
Put them in the soil, find out about the best way to deal with them, help them have a chance. :)
After the beats you can see a "rescued" ginger root. It grew leaves under the kitchen cabinet. I will move it to a more roomy pot now, a ten gallon pot, so it has space to grow more and in about two years, we might have some some organic ginger for cooking. :D
Growing ginger in containers
Plant stands and pots
Third rule of the game... respect natureÂ´s wisdom
The first time I started to look into gardening, I got into the rush of saving seeds. So I put the seeds in lil paper bags in dark places with names... all nice and pretty and like it said in the books. And decided to wait until the right moment to plant my seeds.
When I went to look the next spring, I found that my storage method had not been right for my climate, and most seeds were ruined.
I am not saying that is not the right way to do it when you get it right. I am saying, it did not work for me... yet. Probably due to my own ignorance, more than anything else.
So I donÂ´t hold onto seeds and wait for the right time, I just let nature take care of that. In my garden there are many plants that seed themselves. We can not only let it happen, but encourage it.
On the right you can see our nasturtium plants. They are beautiful, they are edible. They have the most amazing peppery taste. They reseed themselves and come back on their own each year.
Down here you have my herbs planter. The first year I bought an anemic parsley plant, and let it flower and seed (I was told it was a mistake, but did not have the heart to cut its natural cycle). The seeds fell in the same place, with some help. Look the second year... there is parsley everywhere!
This year I had three plants growing really big and seeding, canÂ´t wait to see how it will turn out! I moved my plants to a different spot with more room.
Parsley, second year
Four rule of the game... just do it.
I had my first herb garden when I was living in an eighth floor apartment with only one tiny window with enough light for them. I even lost a couple that fell in a windy storm - thanks goodness nobody got hurt.
So, donÂ´t wait for the right conditions, or the right soil, or the right pot, or the right... anything.
Just start doing something, anything. Get a small pot, ask your neighbor for some dirt and put your tomato seeds there.
Now that we are heading to spring, you can do a germination. This is something great to do with the kids.Get your seeds and sandwich them with wet cotton. Then put it on a plate, or something, and leave it alone. Depending on the conditions you will see something happening between just a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
The easiest to grow are beans (remember the dry beans sold in the supermarket? those ones). Last year we tried different thing besides beans. We had good results with bell pepper.
When the plants become of a couple of inches tall, then move the whole thing (cotton and all), to a pot with dirt and let them grow some more. The cotton will dissolve, and you will be able to separate the plants easier.
When you see they are too crowded, then move them to their own space.
It is that easy. You only need to do a couple of things, everything else is done by itself.
Now, each plant, each vegetable do have its own needs. After you have your plants, it is a good idea to do some research to know how to provide for the basic needs... water, light, temperature, type of soil.
Sometimes a plant is "happier" in one corner of the garden or another. It doesnÂ´t hurt to pay a bit of attention and help out. They canÂ´t move by themselves after all.