Thursday, July 12, 2012

Organic Gardening

My garden is doing awesome this year.  I'm growing cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, parsley, onions, crookneck squash, peppers, carrots, radishes, oregano, rosemary and strawberries.  The crookneck squash was purchased.  The rest were grown from seed.   This is the third year I've grown strawberries with little success of fruit.  If someone could tell me how to grow strawberries to produce and to keep to ants from eating them that would be great.  So unless the strawberries start producing, they will be removed at the end of this growing season.  This is the first year I've grown squash and so far they have been little problem.  The produce beautiful yellow flowers and are now starting to grow many squash.    I've already been harvesting
parsley, basil, chives, onions and oregano.  Just starting to harvest cherry tomatoes.  Unfortunately, the growing season here is short so I decided not to grow any other tomatoes but cherry.  Last year, most of my larger tomatoes had to harvested when they were still green due to the weather.            

For flowers, I'm growing marigold, nasturtiums, alyssum (white and blue), petunias, and forget-me-nots.  Some of the white alyssum and all the petunias were purchased.  The rest of the flowers were grown from seed.  Marigold are very easy to grow and hardy.  They are great companion plants for tomatoes.  I put a couple of marigold plants near my tomatoes this year and I notice so far I am having less problems with the tomatoes.  I wouldn't grow nasturtiums and forget-me-nots from seed again, however.  They take to long.  I'm still waiting for the forget-me-nots and most of the nasturtiums to flower and it is already July.  

Gardening, if you've ever done it, is extremely time consuming.  If you add in the value of your time, you come to realize that it is much cheaper to go to the store and buy organic.  Seriously.  If you've read the book The $64 Tomato you'll know what I am talking about.    If you haven't read it, you should.  It's very funny.  I'm going to add the book to my store so you can find it by clicking on the "Shop" link above (or you might find it at your library). I started gardening three years ago and still haven't broken even.  Every year I expand my garden and change some things to help reduce pests.  This year, I removed the grass around my gardens to reduce the earwig population and to reduce the amount of water I use.  If you've read my prior posts on gardening, you'll see I had a serious earwig and ant problem especially with my marigold, strawberries, greens, green beans, beets and turnips.  I did use some organic products to help reduce the problem but I wanted to do something to further help reduce the problem.  Did removing grass work?  Yes, very much so except for the ants.  They don't seem to care whether it is dry or wet.  Compared to last year, I hardly see earwigs and the ants are less but not gone.  The earwigs (not sure) did destroy some of my radishes.  I also used a product made by EcoSmart a couple of times.  I spayed it around the gardens (not in the gardens).  It's organic so it will not eliminate the pests but will help reduce them.  Better products have Spinosad in them (see in the store).  Planting several different vegetables, herbs and flowers in one square foot garden can also help reduce the pest population.  For instance, if I just planted green beans in my garden, I would be helping increase the earwig population because they love green beans.  By adding plants and flowers that attract different insects, beneficial or not keeps all pests to a minimum.  I'd like to get rid of the wasps around my yard but they have been beneficial to my garden.  They like insects and caterpillars.    

I think for anyone who enjoys gardening, it's not so much saving money (although I hope that's what happens in the long run), it's knowing where your food is coming, seeing the results of your labor, and the great taste.  Even if you buy organic at the store, there's no guarantee it's hasn't traveled across the country.  When you are able to pick from your garden and cook or eat it immediately, it not only tastes fabulous but has more nutrients than anything you can buy at the supermarket.  If you have any advice or gardening stories, please share.  Happy Gardening!  :)           

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