Hong Kong Elevates Organic Vegetable Gardening To New Heights

When it comes to organic vegetable gardening, maintaining higher standards is everything. In Hong Kong they appear to have a distrust for the produce coming from mainland China. With all of the scandals that have been reported concerning what is getting sprayed on ghe produce coming out of China that is for sale in Hong Kong, many locals are going out of their way to avoid this produce and growing their own vegetables by organic methods. Writer Mary Hui presented a piece in the New York Times, reprinted here in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s online edition, describing the lengths to which Hong Kong residents have been going to in order to ensure their food’s wholesomeness.

Hong Kong Elevates Organic Vegetable Gardening To New Heights

HONG KONG — Kimbo Chan knows all about the food scandals in China: the formaldehyde that is sometimes sprayed on Chinese cabbages, the melamine in the milk and the imitation soy sauce made from hair clippings. That is why he is growing vegetables on a rooftop high above the crowded streets of Hong Kong.

“Some mainland Chinese farms even buy industrial chemicals to use on their crops,” Mr. Chan said. “Chemicals not meant for agricultural uses at all.”

As millions of Hong Kong consumers grow increasingly worried about the purity and safety of the fruits, vegetables, meats and processed foods coming in from mainland China, more of them are striking out on their own by tending tiny plots on rooftops, on balconies and in far-flung, untouched corners of highly urbanized Hong Kong.

“Consumers are asking, will the food poison them?” said Jonathan Wong, a professor of biology and the director of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Center. “They worry about the quality of the food. There is a lack of confidence in the food supply in China.”

Organic food stores are opening across the city, and there is growing demand in the markets for organic produce despite its higher prices. There are about 100 certified organic farms in Hong Kong. Seven years ago, there were none.organic vegetable gardening

There is no official count of rooftop farms in Hong Kong, but they are clearly part of an international trend. New York has many commercialized rooftop farms established by companies like Gotham Greens, Bright Farms and Brooklyn Grange. In Berlin, an industrial-size rooftop vegetable and fish farm is in the pipeline. In Tokyo, a farm called Pasona O2 takes urban farming a step further: Vegetables are grown not only on roofs, but also in what was an underground bank vault.

With 7.1 million people in one of the most densely populated cities on earth, Hong Kong has little farmland and almost no agricultural sector. The territory imports more than 90 percent of its food. Hong Kong is hooked on vegetables, and 92 percent of its supply comes from mainland China.

On a recent morning at one of Hong Kong’s bustling and chaotic fresh produce markets, known here as “wet markets,” a woman bought three Chinese squashes for a good price. “Vegetables are expensive nowadays,” she said wearily. “Even if I cared enough about organic food and worried about chemicals, there’s nothing I can really do about it.”

Organic vegetable gardening produces nutritious and chemical free produce. Growing cam be done almost anywhere using square foot gardening techniques and raised bed gardens. When your food supply is questionable, do it yourself and make sure it’s safe to eat.
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A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.                            — Gertrude Stein

Organic Vegetable Gardening: Cheap And Delicious

When you think of organic vegetable gardening, do you think healthy, inexpensive or just plain tasty? Well, you can certainly think of all three and be correct. Raising vegetable crops organically means using the energy of the soil and the sun efficiently, which is simply what nature already does. Nutrients are recycled and move through the system while maintaining an equilibrium, never needing to be replenished from any external sources. This is also the least expensive method of raising vegetable plants for the long run. Many restaurants prefer organically grown produce and work their menus around what’s available locally. This is because it’s freshest and has the highest nutrient content when it’s just harvested and hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to get to the end user. Here’s a short article from WRAL.Com that highlights some of the major benefits of organic produce that local markets and restaurants prefer over non-locally sourced vegetables.

Organic Vegetable Gardening: Cheap And Delicious

Two reasons many people don’t eat enough vegetables are cost and flavor. Many turn to cheaper processed foods packed with

organic vegetable gardening

Organic vegetable gardening produces crops with more flavor and nutrients than commercially grown. Photo by Paul Grecaud c/o Photos.Com.

sodium.

But one easy alternative is to grown your own.

Organic culinary farmer Maggie Lawrence is getting the most out of her summer produce before time runs out.

“One more good month of warm weather before we get a frost,” she said.

Everything she grows in a garden on the campus of SAS Institute in Cary ends up in Chef Scott Crawford’s kitchen at Heron’s restaurant.

“The key here is that it’s harvested today, cooked today and consumed today,” Crawford said.

As picked produce sits day after day, it loses flavor. So the restaurant menu is built around what’s available and ready for harvest.

Read the entire article here at wral.com:

When you factor in all of the costs, including transportation, organic vegetable gardening techniques are far more economical if you source the produce locally. Using natural fertilizers instead of petroleum based enhancers also does not deplete the soil of trace elements. Organically grown vegetables are available from local producers, and buying from them supports the local economy as well. So why not support your local growers and go organic?

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Never eat broccoli when there are cameras around.                                  —  Michael Stipe

Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips

You might be tempted into thinking that the growing season is over now that it’s almost October, but there are still plenty of fall vegetable gardening activities to get going on. Besides cleanup, there are still plenty of crop varieties that can be planted and will yield a nice harvest later in the fall. These have to be cold tolerant plants that can take a bit of mild frost. Here is a short article by U. C. Master Gardener Jim Borland that appeared in the San Luis Obispo Tribune describing all the frenetic gardening activity going on this fall.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips

In your vegetable garden, pumpkins and winter squash should be harvested soon and moved into a cool, airy location where they can

fall vegetable gardening

Fall vegetable gardening brings the season to a close and gets the garden ready for next year. Photo by George Doyle c/o Photos.Com.

last for many months. From now on, regularly check your stored vegetable crops and remove anything showing signs of rot or damage to prevent the spread to healthy material.

You can plant hardy lettuce crops, spinach, onions, broccoli, beets, carrots and other winter vegetables. Don’t forget to aid next summer’s effort by making a note of what has been growing, and where, in your summer vegetable garden.

Fall vegetable gardening can be both fun and productive. Do make sure to mark what was growing where in your garden so you can plant something else there next spring. This will hopefully be a normal part of your crop succession plan so that your soil never gets depleted of nutrients because of over planting of one crop. Get out all the dead stuff and make sure you remove anything with disease or fungus and dispose of it separately. Make sure to harvest and store your produce properly (more on this in an upcoming post). You’ll find out that growing and harvesting vegetables in the fall greatly extends your growing season and maximizes the productivity of your garden.
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The day of fortune is like a harvest day, We must be busy when the corn is ripe.
                                                                 — Torquato Tasso

Basic Vegetable Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know

As a now former novice vegetable gardener, I was very interested in getting the very best basic vegetable gardening tips to start my garden out on the right foot. I read a lot of websites and bought several books to help me get everything going. I felt I had mastered a  sufficient amount of beginning vegetable gardening skills with all of my reading. I was now ready to get out and practice in my field. One thing I didn’t consider was to have the soil tested to see what it might be missing. Now, fortunately for me (maybe it was luck), I had a good year and there weren’t any problems. I did add in lots of manure and compost. I never thought to check the acidity, or pH, of the soil. Greg Bowman would probably have advised me against skipping this step. Here he writes for the Calhoun Times and tells it like it is when you start to get down into the dirt.

Basic Vegetable Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know

I will be the first to admit it, I do not vegetable garden a lot. Maybe that won’t send shockwaves through the community, but between assisting my clients and then being coach and/or driver to the girl’s ball and 4-H events there has not been time in my

basic vegetable gardening

Follow some basic vegetable gardening tips for the best garden crops this year.

personal schedule.

I did grow up in a family where working in the family garden was a right-of-passage. Still today my grandparent’s vegetable garden is successful with my grandfather and uncle doing most of the management.

Today, I would like to share some tips on successful vegetable garden. The bulk of vegetable gardening for 2012 is complete, but now is a good time to lay the ground work for 2013.

If you do not soil sample, please give it some thought. Regular readers of my articles will know I have said this many times. If you don’t soil test, you are just guessing on what you need to purchase when you visit the store of your choice when purchasing fertilizer and lime.

I am going to venture too that we have folks that may fertilize each year, but have not put a bag of lime on their garden in decades. When you talk soil fertility, you need to give thought to soil pH. Soil pH can really be a big player in you having garden success or failure.

In our area of Georgia, we can tend to be more acidic or have more low soil pH. When the soil pH is low, much of that good fertilizer may never get used by your plants. This time of year is a good time to soil test your garden because you may need to start improving your soil pH now in order to see an improvement for next growing season.

Basic vegetable gardening skills are easy to pick up on but once you get better at it there’s always more to learn to keep improving. Get a new book or go on line and see what you can read about that you didn’t know. Every new item of knowledge will enable you to grow larger and tastier crops every season. Remember, it isn’t what you know so much as what you don’t know that often makes the biggest impact on results.
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Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.   — Elizabeth Berry

Does Vegetable Gardening Save Money?

Many folks start their own vegetable gardening efforts in an attempt to either get healthier or to save money. While it can probably be argued easily that the stuff you grow will most decidedly be fresher, and therefore healthier for you, than what you buy in the store, there are a lot of variables that determine if you’ll also save money doing it. Starting a vegetable garden and getting it established takes time, effort and money.  Here is a very short piece by Jenny Bardsley who wrote about her own experiences on this subject for the Herald Net.

Does Vegetable Gardening Save Money?

Here’s a picture of the harvest from our vegetable garden last Saturday. That’s almost $20 worth of organic vegetables pulled fromvegetable gardening our side-yard. So vegetable gardening must be saving our family a lot of money, right?

Read her entire post here at heraldnet.com:

Growing your own fresh organic produce by vegetable gardening in your backyard is probably going to make you feel better and, depending on how big it is, may even make you healthier because you got it at its freshest and most nutritious. But whether you save money doing it is debatable, certainly in the beginning anyway. Now, having said that, I by no means intend to discourage anyone from starting their own vegetable gardens. To the contrary — go forth and grow something. The exercise you get (just think of all those health club membership dollars you’re saving) and the pride of growing your own food (priceless) are worth quite a lot on their own. Spending money now on establishing and maintaining a family vegetable garden that, say, five years from now will have established itself reliably and has begun to pay back your initial investment is no different than taking vitamins and supplements to help prevent illness in the future. You either spend the money now for good nutritious food or you spend it later on medications and lots of doctor visits. There’s no free lunch any way you look at it.

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Try the mustard, — a man can’t know what turnips are in perfection without mustard.  — Mark Twain

Square Foot Vegetable Gardening: Smallest Footprint For The Biggest Reward

It’s nice to know that all of your backyard gardening efforts are going to pay off, but it’s doubly great when you are practicing square foot vegetable gardening techniques that minimize your impact on the planet. I’ve written before on the subject of square foot gardening, and vegetable gardening practices that incorporate these methods have the least negative impact on the environment while at the same time producing the greatest yields of vegetables and produce for the amount of soil used. I’m of the opinion that, just like fresh water, nutrient rich topsoil is a dwindling resource and must also be conserved and used wisely. Here is a very short article (with recipes – that’s always a bonus) written by Mel Bartholomew for the Sioux City Journal.com about square foot gardening and why we should be planting in that direction.

Square Foot Vegetable Gardening: Smallest Footprint For The Biggest Reward

There’s a spark in the eyes of square-foot gardeners when they explain how much food they

square foot vegetable gardening

Square foot vegetable gardening maximizes yields from soil and minimizes carbon footprint. Photo by Ablestock c/o Photos.Com.

harvest, how easy it is to start, and what they plan to grow next year. The chief zealot is Mel

Bartholomew, whose passion for the idea he developed 30 years ago is inspiring a new generation of backyard gardeners.

“With my engineer and efficiency training, I started making a list,” he recalls. “Why do we plant in single rows? Why is the next row 3 feet away? Why do we plant a whole pack of seeds? We will never eat that much. And if you plant everything at once, it comes to harvest all at once.”

A failed community garden experiment inspired Bartholomew to solve the tilling, spacing, harvest and weeding issues in traditional gardening. He built his first square-foot garden (still intact) on his Long Island property with squares instead of rows to minimize weed-prone areas; 48-inch square plots so anyone can reach across to work the interior squares; and a different plant in each 1-foot square for beauty and diversity.

That was 1981. Two books and a PBS television series later, square-foot gardening is being taken up by a new type of gardener, one concerned with food miles, carbon footprint, sustainability and food safety.

See the original post here at siouxcityjournal.com:

Try your own hand next season at square foot vegetable gardening to see how much produce you can realize from a tiny patch of soil. Just think of yourself as being a good steward of the valuable resources that have been placed under your care.

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Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food, for wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don’t forget the potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                   —  John Tyler Pettee

Square Foot Container Vegetable Gardening: Just Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

With backyard space at a premium for many of you, square foot container vegetable gardening may be just the ticket. It’s actually quite amazing just how much produce you can produce from what seems like a very tiny area of soil. Yet, it’s the most efficient way of achieving the highest yields out of a limited space. This article about a family’s experiences with square foot gardening illustrates the many edible and inedible benefits they were able to achieve with their efforts. This article written by Krys Stefansky for HamptonRoads.com is both instructive and enlightening.

Square Foot Container Vegetable Gardening: Just Put One Foot In Front Of The Other

If Will and Katie Wyndham want additional privacy in the backyard, they can take seats behind their tomatoes.

square foot container vegetable gardening

Square foot container vegetable gardening provides the most produce for the least amount of garden space. Photo by Bonnie Ingersoll c/o Photos.Com.

The four plants Will put in this spring have grown to a hedge-like 10 feet high, lush with branches, leaves and fruit.

“I’ve never seen tomatoes this tall,” Will Wyndham said, still amazed at his success.

Nor has the Norfolk man seen strawberries with a yield as high, nor scarlet runner beans as prolific.

His secret? Following the instructions for an organic technique known as square-foot gardening in a book his wife spotted at the hardware store.

It’s Wyndham’s second summer as a square-foot gardener – and he’s a believer.

He started with a compost tumbler from Costco Wholesale.

“We put in eggshells, stuff from the kitchen: coffee grounds, tea, all that good stuff. I turn it about once a week. Then I follow the soil recipe in the book and mix the compost with peat and vermiculite,” Wyndham said.

He shoveled the soil into raised beds he constructed, also according to the instructions in the book, at his home off Azalea Garden Road. The method relies on 4-by-4-foot raised beds that Wyndham crafted of 8-inch-wide cedar boards. For the tomatoes’ extensive root system, he added a second tier to one bin to create a 16-inch-high soil bed.

The three raised beds are laid out in an L-shape in the center of his backyard in the middle of his lawn, just to the right of his daughter’s playhouse, out of the way of the grass that Brandy, the chocolate Lab, uses to stretch her legs. The vegetables receive optimum sunlight, about 8 to 10 hours each day.

Original article here at hamptonroads.com:

It’s truly amazing how much you can grow in a small area by practicing square foot container vegetable gardening techniques. Why not give it a go in a small section of your garden or even your patio? Try it and see how it works for you. You just might be surprised.

Please leave a comment below and if you’ve tried these techniques, share your experiences and anything you have learned along the way.

A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.  — Laurie Colwin

Heirloom Organic Vegetable Gardening Tips: Keep Your Seeds For Next Year

I think that one of the best aspects of organic vegetable gardening is your ability to propagate your vegetable plants each succeeding year. As long as you are using heirloom varieties and not the commercial hybridized seed varieties, you can isolate and preserve your seed stock for the next season. Once they’re dried, store them either in the refrigerator or some cool dry location away from light. The article here is more focused on flower seeds, but the principles apply. I’ll be setting up a static page here soon that covers this topic in detail for those of you who are interested. preserving our seed stock has become more important lately due to economic and climate factors that may make it necessary for many of us to depend on our vegetable gardens to grow more of our own food than ever before. Here is a short primer on seed preservation by Master Gardener Joe Lamp’l written for Scripps Howard News Service that recently appeared in Wicked Local Ashland.

Heirloom Organic Vegetable Gardening Tips: Keep Your Seeds For Next Year

One of fall’s most pleasant chores is collecting, drying and saving the seed from my favorite garden flowers and vegetables. It’s

organic vegetable gardening

Organic vegetable gardening heirloom plants allows saving seeds for next season. Photo by IT Stock Free c/o Photos.Com.

relaxing, and fills me with anticipation about next year’s garden even as this one is winding down. I also love to share seeds with other gardeners. This preserves and propagates favorite plants across the land — and propels them into the future.

You can collect most any seed, but I recommend starting with easy-to-save kinds like sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus), Zone 3-8, or hollyhock (Alcea rugosa), Zone 4-8, and those whose seed is expensive to buy commercially, like gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii), Zone 8-10.

Hard-to-find seed like Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), Zone 3-8, are good candidates, too. Collect from as many healthy, robust plants as you can. This helps preserve genetic diversity and reduces the chance for passing on undesirable traits such as susceptibility to disease.

It’s best to harvest from heirloom or open-pollinated plants — those propagated by wind, insects and other “natural” means — rather than hybrids.

Using organic vegetable gardening techniques you can very easily preserve and propagate your vegetable seeds for next year. There are methods for preparing your seeds for longer term storage, but I plan to cover that topic in a report that’ll be up in the near future. Try your hand at saving some seeds for next growing season. You can always start them indoors and see if they germinate before committing them to your vegetable garden in earnest.
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The man who has nothing to boast of but his ancestors is like a potato – the only good belonging to him is under ground.  — Sir Thomas Overbury

Best Tip To Grow Vegetables In Containers: Throw In The Kitchen Sink

When it comes time for you to grow vegetables in containers, gardener and author Michael Kelly has some advice for us all: Throw in the kitchen sink. That’s right. Sounds strange at first, but he’s talking about using unconventional yet still everyday items that will function perfectly well as vegetable gardening containers. Here Michael Kelly writes for the Independent.ie and has some sound, if not unconventional advice for would be container vegetable gardeners.

Best Tip To Grow Vegetables In Containers: Throw In The Kitchen Sink

I HAVE been pleasantly surprised with the success that I have had growing aubergines and peppers in containers and grow bags

grow vegetables in containers

Grow vegetables in containers that are unconventional. Photo by Hemera Technologies c/o Photos.Com.

this year. I have about 15-20 pepper plants in pots in the potting shed that are very productive — churning out bell and chilli peppers over the last two to three weeks.

For the first time ever for me, I’ve also had good aubergines — thanks to container growing. For the last few years, I’ve grown them in the ground in the polytunnel and I’ve never been rewarded with even a single aubergine (though the plant is attractive and produced lots of pretty flowers).

This year, however, I grew the aubergines in a grow bag in the potting shed and we’ve been enjoying beautiful sleek, black aubergines for a month now.

I’m blessed with plenty of space to grow here on the Home Farm, so I generally only grow in containers when I end up sowing far too many seeds in the spring. Rather than throw the excess plants out, it makes sense to make use of them by either (a) giving them away to fellow GIYers or (b) pot them up into containers.

They can then be moved to anywhere you have a bit of space.

If you are short on space, however, container growing can be a lifesaver — even a balcony or windowsill can become a productive GIY HQ. The good news is that with a little care most vegetables will grow well in containers.

In addition to the space-saving positives, there are a number of additional benefits to growing your food this way. For starters, they make an attractive addition to any garden. It’s also generally easier to get plants going in pots because they are not as vulnerable to pests and the elements as they are in the open ground. The great bane of the Irish grower — the slug (boo! hiss!) — is not as big a problem when growing in containers as it is in the soil.

Weeding is generally not a problem either, particularly when using bought compost. A container is, quite simply, a more controlled environment for a plant to grow in.

Read all of Michael’s tips and tricks here at independent.ie:

You can certainly grow vegetables in containers of almost any sort. You’re only limited by your own imagination and what you have available. See what you have lying about your yard or what’s available this weekend at your local garage sale. You’d probably surprise yourself at what you might think to bring home for that next new planting bed in the garden.

Please go ahead and share your inspirations by leaving a comment or two below. Click the like button to share your inspiration with a friend.

The day of fortune is like a harvest day, We must be busy when the corn is ripe.   —  Torquato Tasso

Take Steps Now For Best Fall Vegetable Gardening Experience

For the best fall vegetable gardening experience this year, take steps early to grow vegetables that are appropriate for the late season. Certain crops are particularly suited to be planted in late summer or early fall and are usually always cold and frost tolerant. You can typically harvest them very late into the fall, some well into November. This piece written by master gardener Charlotte Glen for the Star News Online provides a great deal of guidance to beginner and experienced gardeners alike this fall planting season.

Take Steps Now For Best Fall Vegetable Gardening Experience

Don’t let limited garden space stop you from growing vegetables this fall. Many cool-season crops are easy to grow in containers

fall vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening into the fall extends the growing season.

and now is the time to plant them.

Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula thrive even in shallow pots. They are often planted mixed together with herbs and other greens in bowl-shaped containers, providing all the ingredients you need for healthy, tasty salads in a single pot.

Supplies

You do not need a lot of supplies to start a salad bowl garden.

Start with the container, which does not have to be bowl-shaped. Rectangular window box containers and round pots work just as well. Containers of many types can be recycled for the purpose as long as they are at least six inches deep and have several drainage holes drilled into the bottom. I have even seen cardboard boxes used as planting containers for a single season. An old T-shirt can be wrapped around the outside of the box to help it hold together.

Next, you need potting soil. Most potting soils will work well, but avoid those that have a lot of bark. They are too coarse for smaller pots and will dry out too quickly.

If you are unsure of what to buy, choose a seed-starting mix. These mixes usually contain a combination of peat moss and vermiculite and are designed for use in shallow containers. There is no need to buy a soil that already contains fertilizer. In fact, it is usually better to add fertilizer separately.

Get the complete list for all of Charlotte’s fall gardening recommendations here at starnewsonline.com:

Late season vegetable gardening is something I am increasingly turning to in order to extend my growing season in the backyard. You can also use these techniques, with a little advanced planning, to help rotate your crops through your garden and thereby not deplete your soil of certain nutrients. Just go ahead and start some vegetable crops now and see what grows. You’ll have a significant amount of knowledge built up for next year by trying your hand at late season vegetable gardening this autumn.

Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below. What sorts of vegetable are you planting this fall? Click on the like button to share.

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.  —  Marcelene Cox