Organic Vegetable Gardening Builds Soil Nutrients and Human Nutrition

Organic vegetable gardening is all about using natural methods to produce crops. So far , so good. I blogged recently about a Stanford study that showed organic produce to be no better, in terms of nutrient content and pesticide residue, than conventionally grown crops. The soil influences the crops that grow in it. Here, Jim McLain writes a detailed piece for the YakimaHerald.Com describing the ins and outs of just how organic farming methods impact the environment compared with their more conventional petroleum-based brethren.

Organic Vegetable Gardening Builds Soil Nutrients and Human Nutrition

You can bet your back forty that organic farmers and backyard organic gardeners have been quick to challenge the Stanford findings. One challenge was that it did not look at environmental effects of how farming is done. Environmental impacts of farming methods were not within the parameters of the study.

Why bother to garden organically?

Organic vegetable gardening

Organic vegetable gardening avoids pesticides and is far less energy and natural resource dependent than conventional methods. Photo by George Doyle c/o Photos.Com.

Although many pesticides have been banned after having been found to be dangerous to the environment, there are still pesticides in use that organic growers are challenging the EPA to take a closer look at. There is also an ongoing debate about the safety limits of pesticide residue set by the EPA. And misused chemical pesticides and fertilizers continue to contaminate our lakes, rivers and groundwater, although less so than in the past.

Safety measures for farm workers who do the spraying and harvesting have been greatly improved in recent years, but there are still concerns over how current use is affecting farm workers’ health over years of exposure. And there is the same concern about the consumer’s health.

Organic farmers contend that their practices are sustainable, while conventional farms are far from it as they depend heavily on synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Both are made largely from petroleum and natural gas, which are not renewable. Conventional farms produce up to 40 percent more greenhouse gases per acre than organic farms, plus organic farms use 45 percent less energy in producing their crops.

Please read the entire article here at yakimaherald.com:

Organic vegetable gardening encompasses more than just growing your vegetables using manure instead of petroleum-based fertilizers. Every aspect of how the soil is managed and how the crops are nurtured in accordance with how nature already does it is part of the big picture. The differences between conventional and organic are probably not (yet) measurable, but they nonetheless exert a significant influence over one’s health during a lifetime of eating. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know that will do you in, it’s what you don’t know that will get you.

Why not weigh in on the debate and leave a comment below. This is one that is just getting started. Share the discussion with a friend by clicking one of the like buttons below.

 

 

 

Winter In The Vegetable Garden: No Season For Discontent

Now that winter is upon us, there’s still plenty to do in the vegetable garden. Aside form any pruning that didn’t get done earlier in the fall, there’s plenty to do just getting your garden soil prepared for next spring and the new growing season. Here’s an article by L. Woodrow Ross written for the Independent Mail at IndependentMail.Com all about what we should be doing in our gardens and around the yard this winter to get a jump start on spring.

Winter In The Vegetable Garden: No Season For Discontent

vegetable garden

Take the time to prepare your vegetable garden soil this winter to get a jump on next spring. Photo by audaxi c/o Photos.Com.

Humus can be added to improve the texture of the soil. This can be leaf mold or purchased peat moss. Leaf mold is easily created by composting leaves that you rake from your lawn in the fall. By the following fall they will have broken down and created leaf mold that is a wonderful amendment for the soil. Four-foot high fence wire can be staked into a circle and leaves piled inside and allowed to compact and decay for garden use.

In addition, a compost heap is a good investment for gardeners. Vegetable peels, decayed fruit, watermelon and cantaloupe rinds and other kitchen discards may be composted to create rich amendment for gardens and ornamentals. Composting can be done by created wooden bins and tossing vegetable matter inside. A little soil can be thrown in to hold moisture and it can be sprayed with a garden hose. Use a pitchfork to turn the compost occasionally.

Commercial compost bins come in many shapes and sizes. Some are elevated and barrel-shaped. They can be turned with a crank to mix the contents and are among the easiest to use. Others are simple plastic bins that have top-loading features and doors that open at the bottom to remove the composted material.

To maintain the soil in the best condition for spring planting, cover the surface with several inches of straw or leaves to keep it from freezing and to maintain moisture. If the soil is fertile, this covering will even allow earthworms to be active in the soil during the winter months. When the mulch is raked away in the spring, the rows can be laid off and you are ready to plant with a minimum of effort.

Read original article here:

The winter vegetable garden is still a place with plenty of activity if you focus on all the under the scenes action. Go ahead and get your soil and any plants and trees that need tending if you get a nice day. You’ll thank yourself later this year (and so will your vegetables).

Please go ahead and share your thoughts and opinions below by leaving a comment. Click on the like button and share this with a friend. I also have another magazine I’ve started over on ScoopIt! that has more interesting and fun articles for your reading enjoyment!

Get The Best Dirt On Vegetable Gardening

There’s a lot of dirt being spread about vegetable gardening these days. No, really. The soil is where it’s at. Plenty of organic material broken down and decomposed from previous tenants of the earth ready to feed your garden for next season. Anything that grows uses nutrients from the soil to build itself into a plant. Only by decomposing and leaving its components behind can something else grow there in its place. Replacing nutrients with things like compost (the ultimate in nutrition for soil I might add) is a natural way of keeping your vegetable garden’s soil well balanced in the building blocks of life that your tender young plants will need to thrive in the spring. UC Master Gardener Nanette Londeree writes in Marinij.com how to amend your soil to get it ready for next year.

Get The Best Dirt On Vegetable Gardening

FALL IS FOR PLANTING. Whether you’re ready to set out cool season vegetables, add a specimen tree or divide your perennials, you can get a jump start on next season’s growing by planting now. It’s also a great time to invigorate beds for spring planting.vegetable gardening

If your garden is blessed with oodles of chocolate-colored, crumbly, vibrant soil just waiting to be used, you needn’t read any further. But if, like many Marin gardeners, you’ve got soil that looks like brick in the summer and glue in the winter, you may want to transform it into plant-friendly soil by amending it — adding materials to improve it.

But what do you add? A visit to your local nursery can put you on overload with the dizzying array of products, so it’s helpful to understand what you want from a material before buying it.

First some terminology: an amendment is any material mixed into the soil that indirectly aids plant growth by improving the condition of the soil, like its structure or texture, water retention or microbial activity.

The terms soil conditioner and amendment are often used interchangeably, both serving to improve the chemical, physical or biological properties of soil. Mulches are organic or inorganic materials placed on the soil surface to help prevent weed growth, conserve moisture and add organic matter to the soil as they break down. A number of materials used as soil amendments can act as a fertilizer by providing nutrients to the soil, or be applied to the soil surface as mulch.

Original article here at marinij.com:

Vegetable gardening teaches us many things, including a very important lesson about the continuity of life. We “get out” what we “put in” to our vegetable gardens. The seed provides the program, the sun and the earth provide the energy, and the nutrients within the soil contribute the building blocks to make a new plant. It’s truly amazing to contemplate the magnitude of such elegant simplicity! Why not try it yourself? Connect yourself to the infinite through your gardening next year.

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Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mold myself.    —  Henry David Thoreau

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.
Please go ahead and leave a comment and share your gardening experiences. Click the like button and share this article with a fellow gardener.
Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.   — Elizabeth Berry

Compost Tea for Your Garden

Fertilizing Your Vegetable Garden Soil

Compost tea is one of the most concentrated and nutritious fertilizers you can use in your vegetable garden soil. This is different from anything that’s sold through the home and garden stores that more than likely are made from chemicals. Your vegetable garden soil benefits most from organically derived fertilizers because they are more balanced.

Serve Your Vegetable Garden Soil Some Compost Tea

Compost tea (also known as manure tea) is completely organic and is both simple and inexpensive to make yourself. First, you’ll have to start with your own compost, or if you can buy it, worm compost which is even richer in nutrient content. Take a few cups worth and put it into a 5 gallon bucket, and fill it with about three gallons of water. Stir well and either let it steep overnight, or you can use an aquarium air pump and an aeration stone and bubble air through the liquid for about 12-24 hours. Filter off the liquid through a large coffee filter and store in a cool place until you need it.

Create the Most Nutritious Vegetable Garden Soil You Can

Start to regularly feed your garden vegetable plants with it. For instance, you can use about one cup’s worth of compost tea every 3 weeks or so to regularly feed your tomatoes. This can be applied either directly to the surrounding soil to enhance the soil, or directly to the leaves with a pump sprayer. The plants growing in this kind of highly nutritious vegetable garden soil will thrive. Your vegetable garden soil will also not be depleted over time of any trace nutrients. The vegetable garden soil you create this way will get better with each passing year.

Vermiculture 101

Worms…ugh! That might be your first reaction. But what if I told you that raising your own worms (it’s called vermiculture actually) could be one of the smartest things you can do to both cut down on household organic waste added to local landfills, and at the same time make a fresh compost that is extremely nutrient rich for your vegetable garden.

Start out with a simple plastic bin container with a lid that’s been drilled for ventilation, with cardboard in the bottom, shredded newspaper inside that’s been dampened with water, and you’re ready to go. the kind of worms you want to add are known as “Red Wigglers“. Add in your worms and then some soil. On top of that you can put some freshly cut green material from the garden. Cover and wait. Very soon you’ll have plenty of rich compost for your vegetable garden. See the video here to learn more about some of the details.

Healthy Organic Garden Soil

Healthy vegetables that are nutritious to eat won’t grow well unless the soil they’re grown in is packed with the basic nutrients that produce strong healthy plants.  Always remember, soil that’s been chemically fertilized is actually depleted of and deficient in many critical nutrients that a rapidly growing vegetable plant needs.

A mixture of animal manure and compost (humus) is the richest and most balanced nutritional organic soil supplement for growing vegetables. Make sure that your garden soil is rich with earthworms, too. Those castings they leave behind in the soil are five times more nutrient rich than what the earthworms ingested! Earthworms also aerate the soil, making it easier for your plant’s roots to work their way through it.

Watch the video for some more information about how to get animal manure into your organic garden beds. Note: If you don’t have ready access to chickens and rabbits, you can always just buy and add cow or horse manure and blend it in with your compost and soil.

Compost: Is It Done Yet?

Just when is that compost going to be ready? Shouldn’t it be done by now? It’s been 2 weeks! Well, maybe not quite. Depending on your local conditions and temperatures, as well as the mixture itself and how it’s being composted, it can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to get your finished compost and be able to add it to your vegetable garden. It’s ready when you can take a shovelful and not really recognize anything that went into it. You might see some pieces of husk or stems, mostly woody items that will continue to degrade in the soil but just take a lot longer to do it.

Good compost looks pretty much like really good dirt. It’s 100% organic material, lacking any minerals except maybe calcium from the eggshells you might have added. Take your finished compost out (most likely last season’s) and move it so you can start a fresh batch for this season. A 5 gallon bucket’s worth of compost added every year to a 4 by 8 foot bed will keep your garden beds plenty fertile. See the video here for more information.

Turning Your Compost Pile

How often should you turn your compost? Enough to keep the contents well aerated so oxygen can get to everything and that it’s well mixed on a regular basis. This is largely governed by how big the pile is. The older compost will be at the bottom because it’s been there longer.\

Use your gardening fork to dig deeply into it so you can lift and turn the material, mix it up, and expose more of it to the air. If you’re not into that, there are composting drums that will do this for you when you give them a few turns on a regular basis.

If your compost starts to smell, it isn’t getting enough oxygen and needs to be turned and aerated mechanically. Go ahead and add in some dried material too, since there’s probably a bit too much liquid in it as well. Watch this video clip here for some additional tips and information.

Compost Basics

Composting is such a good idea, if for no other reason that it gives you a place to get rid of garden waste, excess grass clippings and weeds other than putting it into the municipal waste stream. You might have some misconceptions about a compost pile, like it will smell bad. In fact, a well built compost pile will not smell at all, provided you don’t put the wrong kinds of things into it. Composting is an integral part of organic vegetable gardening.

Compost degrades by aerobic (oxygen) bacteria and fungi to break down the waste into simpler things that will fertilize your vegetable garden soil. Garbage smells because it usually rots, that is, it breaks down anaerobically (no oxygen), and this often gives off sulfur and nitrogen containing molecules which can smell very badly.

You can add any type of vegetable or plant matter, as well as egg shells, but make sure that they are well mixed with any preexisting compost matter already in the pile to give the whole thing a good start. If what you’ve added is wet, add in some dried organic material to help distribute the water evenly and that the whole mix is moistened but not wet. See the video for more details here.