How to build your own organic garden (anywhere) and save money!

How to build your own organic garden (anywhere) and save money!

While First Lady Michelle Obama planted an organic garden at the White House with seeds that cost only $200, you can buy a wide variety of seeds for a smaller garden for less than $20! You can't beat the price when you compare it to your monthly grocery bill. In fact, gardening can save you hundreds of dollars in food each season you grow your own.  What better way to get fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables and herbs than in your own home?

For those that have a limited space, container gardening on a deck, balcony, a wall or in a sunny room is a great way to produce some of your own food. I once lived in a little house in Santa Monica (I called the Coconut) with a small yard.  I created a fabulous garden that was about 4 feet by 10 feet.  I had pet bunnies that loved to hop around my yard so I planted all kinds of vegetables for their enjoyment.  They could hop right over and have a delicious feast.  And I had a salad available to me anytime I wanted! It was a very happy and refreshing household! Take it from me, nothing is a therapeutic as gardening! The smells, the textures, the life allegories...the tender budding shoots must be treated gently, just like our own budding dreams and thoughts; weeds are everywhere and must be pulled out by the root so the little plants can grow - just like our dreams; and there must be plenty of space - no crowding! And of course, it takes rain (or at least water) AND sunshine for a garden to grow into its potential. So, cherish the storms in your life! It's how we grow.

And for those who have no space at all for a garden, buying local and organic is becoming easier and easier as more local markets spring up and expand around the country.

Follow these Top Ten Tips to get started:

1) Plan your garden - Keep in mind that most vegetables need full sun. Flowers span the range of full sun to full shade; check the seed packet or plant catalog for guidance. Once you have your location, consider not just how much space you have, but how much time you have. The larger the plot, the more time it will take to manage. Does your spot drain well, or will you need to build a raised bed so that water can easily move through the soil? Does it have access to water? Know what you're getting into before you plant the first seed.

2) Clear out the weeds - If you're trying to convert a patch of grass or a section of field, you'll probably need to dig the weeds out, to be sure they're gone. You can also cover the area with a couple of inches of newspaper. Lack of sunlight will kill weeds and grass and make them easier to remove from your garden plot.

3) Add compost and other organic matter - If you're not impatient like me, you can test the soil first. When you get the results back, you'll know how much nitrogen, phosphorus and/or potassium you'll need to add. You may also need to add an inch of sharp sand if your soil is clay.

4) Rake your soil into beds or rows - Leave paths in between so you can walk through your garden without trampling the dirt. Mulch with shredded pine bark or other organic material, then leave the plot alone for about a month before you plant it.

5) Set up a watering system - If your plot is small, you can probably water by hand with a garden hose. Otherwise, install an inexpensive DIY drip irrigation system so you deliver water directly to plant roots and don't waste it using one of those sprinklers that has such a long spray it sends more water to the sidewalk or driveway than your plants. If your garden is next to a garage or shed, you can set up a rain barrel to catch water coming off the roof.

6) Meanwhile, start a compost pile - Use leaves, grass clippings, other yard debris, and kitchen waste. Making compost at home like this is probably the single most cost-effective way to turn dull-as-dishwater dirt into rich, black earth.

7) Pick your seeds and plants - Consider plants that grow well in your climate; most likely, those will be 'natives' that have evolved to take best advantage of the temperatures, rainfall, and soil conditions you have. Choose disease-resistant species for vegetables as well as ornamental plants. Buy organically raised seeds and seedlings so you're chemical-free from beginning to end.

8) Plant, then watch and weed - Plant your seeds and seedlings to maximize growth. Keep a hoe handy to scratch out weeds before they take over. Keep an eye out for insects and diseases so they don't become a problem.

9) Don't get bugged by bugs - Some gardeners can't stand to see even one little bug on one little leaf in their garden. Hence the continual bombing of their plants with insecticides and herbicides that, by and large, only serve to make the bugs that survive tougher than ever before. Most plants can tolerate a small insect invasion and still produce to abundance. Don't even start gardening if you don't like a few bugs with your plants.

10) Enjoy your garden! - Stroll through your garden every day or position a chair, stool or bench close by your potted plants on your porch or in your sunny window so you can sit peacefully and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Then get out a basket and start picking.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Nicole Carpter wrote:
Love it

Tue, June 21, 2011 @ 2:38 PM

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