Do you wish you could grow a sustainable vegetable garden? Now you CAN have a sustainable garden of your own in a very small space. And it can be fun and productive!
Let’s think for a moment of what motivates us to grow gardens anyway?
Many of us want the taste of fresh picked-when-ripe tomatoes, corn, peas and etc. Some folks believe it's the healthiest way to live. Others love the fresh air and exercise, digging in the dirt, and the joy of being a co-creator with God.
The idea of having our food grown by strangers on huge farms in far distant places, while perhaps using harmful pesticides and herbicides, makes others want the security and control of growing their own. And at times like 9/11 we all feel vulnerable to disruptions in the complex delivery system that brings food to our doors.
Sustainable Gardening is really quite simple, and most of the work is already done for you by nature. All you need to do is learn and follow 10 basic rules. The following steps will assure you a great gardening experience. Learn and enjoy!
1) Choose a location away from shade of all kinds that's reasonably level, has a good water supply, and has easy access
2) Remove everything from the soil: rocks, rubbish, and vegetation, including roots and runners of perennial weeds and shrubs. Then till or dig everything 8" to 10" deep.
3) Plan, stake, and build level ridged soil-beds in which to plant seeds or seedlings. An 18"-wide soil-bed or open-bottom box, with aisles of at least 3’ is ideal.
4) Assure balanced nutrition for your crops. Basically, this means you will need natural mineral nutrients, including a pre-plant mix you’ll apply and mix with your soil one time at the rate of one ounce (2 TBS) per running foot of soil-bed, and a growing mix for weekly feeding. These are mixes you can make yourself at very little cost. We'll tell you exactly how to make these two mixes in another article.
5) Plant seedlings or seeds at the proper time, so they don't freeze, and space them based on their size at maturity, to give them ample growing room.
6) Immediately after transplanting seedlings, give them a boost with 34-0-0 or other nitrogen fertilizer. Apply 4" from plant stems along the row of plants, using 1/4 ounce per running foot of soil-bed. Water thoroughly.
7) Three days after transplanting, or immediately upon emergence of sprouted seedlings, begin applying the growing mix, using 1/2 ounce per running foot of soil-bed. Continue weekly until 3 weeks before crop maturity. Look for more about feeding your crops in another article.
8) At the first sign of tiny weeds, use a 2-way hoe to remove them. Never let weeds get even one inch high, but continue weeding until they give up. E and O weeding (early and often!) will assure you a weed-free garden, along with much more abundant and healthier crops.
9) Water down the center of your level ridged soil-beds daily, or as needed to maintain moisture in your soil-beds. Never let the soil dry out, since wilting plants are already dying.
10) Harvest your crops at the peak of maturity for best appearance, taste, and health benefit. Never leave crops in the garden after maturity, or they will quickly lose their food value and attract bugs and diseases.
Just learn these few basic rules, follow them accurately, and watch nature's miracle turn your bare ground into a cornucopia of tasty and healthy fruits and vegetables.
In coming articles we'll cover these steps in more detail so you can feel comfortable about why and exactly how to do things the best way - for your plants, your own health, and the environment.
To get a head start and see the complete pictorial and graphic instructions for a great garden in any soil and in any climate, visit http://www.foodforeveryone.org .
Copyright © 2005 - Jim Kennard
Jim Kennard is President of Food For Everyone Foundation, and teaches family-based food production around the world.
"Teaching the world to grow food one family at a time. "
The Foundation's website provides substantial free gardening assistance, including the Mittleider Gardening Basics Course as an ebook, tips and techniques in the FAQ section, greenhouse plans, and one important downloadable chapter from each of Dr. Jacob Mittleider's 7 vegetable gardening books.
Also available are gardening CD's software, tools, and natural mineral fertilizers.