In the past few years, Recycla has heard more and more people say that they want to start growing their own food. In fact, it is because so many Eco Women readers have mentioned their desire to garden that that Enviro Girl and Recycla have been posting so much info on gardening in recent weeks and plan to post more in the next few months.
Some people are gardening out of economic necessity and others are doing so in order to have more control over the foods they eat. Whatever a person’s reason, gardening is a great thing to do. EVERYONE can garden — whether you put pots of herbs in your window sill, containers of tomatoes on your patio, or you go larger scale, gardening is generally quite easy. If you live in an apartment with only a few north-facing windows, but you’re still antsy to start digging, check around your neighborhood for a shared community garden.
There are a few gardeners among the Eco Women and here are their tips to get you started:
Plan to be organic. You DO NOT need to use toxins in your garden, nor do you need chemical fertilizers. Organic gardening is the way our ancestors raised their food for centuries and if they survived, so can you. For more information about being an organic gardener, read Organic Gardening magazine or go to their website. You’ll find lots of practical tips and suggestions for all gardeners, from novice to experienced.
Choose a good location. Vegetables and herbs need sun — lots of it — so choose a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct light every day. Make sure your garden is convenient — to a water source so that you can keep your plants hydrated and also to your home so that you can dash out at dinner time for a last-minute harvest.
Choose how you’re going to garden — in containers, in a raised garden bed, or directly in the ground itself.
- If you’re gardening in containers, opt for larger ones, as they h0ld more plants. Make sure there are a some small holes in the bottom for drainage. Put gravel, small rocks, or broken bits of planters in the bottom, then fill with dirt. Do not use dirt from your backyard — buy a bagged mix. For more information, check out this website.
- If you’re building a raised bed, consider your materials carefully. Railroad ties, while convenient, contain toxins that you definitely DO NOT want near your edibles. In fact, if you’re using lumber of any kind, research it carefully and find out what chemicals were used at the mill. In general, cedar is a good wood to use because it’s usually not treated, but double-check, just to make sure. Other options include plastic lumber, bricks, and stone. Click here for more information how to build a raised garden bed.
- If you’re putting your garden right in the ground, the easiest way to do it is by lasagna gardening. Lasagna gardening eliminates the back-breaking labor of removing sod. Instead, you put down a thick layer of newspapers or corrugated cardboard on the place where you want your garden, which will kill the grass for you. On top of that, you layer fallen leaves, peat moss, dirt, compost, etc. Water well and you’re done! The layers of organic material break down and create the most amazing soil you can imagine. You can plant immediately, but it’s even better if you let things settle for several weeks. A terrific book on this topic is Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza.
Choose what you’re going to plant — herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowers, or a combination of everything. Some plants are easier to grow from seed than others, so if you are a complete novice, go ahead and buy plants this year. They should pay for themselves pretty quickly. Putting herbs and flowers in among your veggies will help repel pests in your garden. Consider companion planting — some plants do particularly well when planted together, such as tomatoes, basil, and marigolds.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s easy to get excited about gardening and make huge plans, but then lose momentum in June or July. If this is your first foray into gardening, start off small. Try a couple of herbs and one or two tomato plants. If things go well, branch out next year.
Do your research. Read about gardening. Buy magazines, check out books from the library, and surf the Web. Talk to people you know who garden and ask for their advice. Also, feel free to leave your questions here in the comments. The Eco Women probably have answers for you!
Tell the Eco Women: Do you garden? If so, where — your windowsill, containers on the patio, in a shared community garden, your back yard? What kinds of things do you grow?
Photo credits: Yahoo Images.