Last year I was motivated to grow my own organic vegetable garden after a fascinating culinary /horticulture class I took at my local community college. I had heard about the “Dirty Dozen,” the list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues. As a result, I began buying those items from the organic section of my super market: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.
After learning about the health benefits of eating organic, how much better food tastes straight out of the earth, and how eating organic is also good for the environment and ecosystem, I decided to give it a try!
After telling my husband for months I was going to start this project, he surprised me and purchased 6 planter boxes. I happened to have the perfect spot on my side yard that gets plenty of sun and I have a watering hose nearby. We ordered the beds from HERE and bought the Sendero model. I live in an area that is prone to rabbits so I knew I needed beds raised off the ground, however, there are many different garden beds to choose from.
I had some knowledge on how to begin, but I wanted some expert advise. I went to my local garden center and talked to a few of the very knowledgeable staff members. First off, I found out what would grow in a winter garden. I decided on several different kinds of lettuce, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, kale, brussel sprouts, beets, strawberries, kale and celery. Then, we came up with a “road map,” designing where to plant each species. I bought everything in plant form, except the radishes and carrots, which were seeds. Within each planter box, they advised me to plant tall plants in the back row and three other species of my choice. I kept track of what I planted in each planter box in a journal.
I purchased several bags of organic soil, a bag of organic fertilizer, a watering can and a trowel. Then I went home and got to work. The first picture shows the garden on day 1, the second picture shows the growth that occurred about 5 weeks later. The final picture below is a salad I made with some of the lettuce I harvested about 8 weeks after the initial planting.
I’m pretty proud of my first attempt at “going organic.” It certainly has not been without its issues! I had some strange fungus that grew in one of the boxes and I just removed it with my garden trowel. I also learned the hard way that if you don’t harvest your vegetables at the proper time when they are ready, everything will flower, including your lettuce, and then it’s too late to eat it! All my broccoli flowered, and although it looked beautiful in the garden, it was inedible. Now I know what to do next year.
Next week I will be removing everything from all 6 boxes to get ready from spring planting. I’m most looking forward to planting tomatoes, as these are a favorite of mine.
Another project I’m looking forward to researching and starting next fall is my own compost bin. Adding compost is a way to bring nutrient rich organic matter to your garden instead of chemical fertilizer and can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage. So, it’s also good for the environment!
I hope I have motivated some of you to try your hands at your own organic garden. It’s a small investment for a lifetime of health, plus, it’s good exercise and gets you outdoors soaking in the vitamin D and fresh air.