Each week I fill my grocery cart with organic fruits and vegetables. It takes a lot of produce to feed my family of five but the cost is well worth it-after all, a healthy family is my most valued asset. I've always wanted to learn how to organic garden, and grow my own fruits and vegetables but I always had an excuse-I moved into a new home (twice), I had babies, I was working too hard, or I was traveling too much so I couldn't tend to it the way it needed to be tended to.
But this year is different. I am finally ready and I don't have any excuses. My kids are excited about the project and have helped me dig, plant and water the plants.
Learning how to organic garden is a great practice for children as they can watch something grow right before their eyes. It also helps them appreciate where their food comes from. It's also great for adults because it's gratifying to know the source of the food we are putting on the table.
To get started, I went to my local farmer's market and bought organic plants and organic earth. Living on the East Coast, I have a very short growing period so I decided not to grow my garden from seeds since I am new to the gardening game, and I wanted to give myself a head start in the process.
I'm starting with tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, zucchinis, butternut squash, strawberries, lettuce (a variety of types), kale, herbs, and a whole lot of advice.
I've talked to avid gardeners from my area asking them for tips to help me get started. Here are a few I thought were interesting:
1. Consider "roughing" in the fruit, vegetables and herbs before putting them into the earth.
Because I live in a colder climate, I need to acclimate the plants to being outside. To get them ready for the season, I was told to place them outside during the day and bring them in at night until I'm ready to plant them.
2. Beware of invasive mint.
I love mint, but if I don't want it to take over my entire garden, then I need to watch where I plant it. Mint has roots called "runners" which are invasive. They will take over a flowerbed or anything else in their path. Mint grows with lightning speed, sprouting new leaves daily. It should be planted 15 inches apart and thinned out often. Mulching the mint also keeps it from spreading. There is nothing like picking fresh mint from the garden and throwing it into recipes or even making mint tea. My kids love it too and eat it straight from the garden.
3. Don't worry about bunnies.
They're adorable, but I fear they'll destroy the garden. Instead of trying to keep bunnies away, I was told to feed them! Some advice was to try planting borage at a safe distance from my garden so the bunnies don't eat my fruits and veggies. Borage is used in companion planting to protect the garden from rabbits as well as hornworms, which especially target tomato plants.
I would love to know your gardening tips-big or small, please leave them in the comments below. I will be sure to put them to good use this summer!