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.

 

 

 

Is Organic Produce Better For Your Health: Recent Study Implies Not That Much

Organic produce has always been thought of as definitively better for your health than conventionally raised crops because of their lack of exposure to chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Now, there’s been a controversy in “River City” ever since a recent Stanford University study came out a few months ago saying, in effect, it ain’t necessarily so. Now, before I go any further, I want to point out that I’m only the messenger here, and in fact I’ve been leery of wandering too far into this minefield until now. I wrote a piece on this subject a few months ago and tested the waters. No hate mail or death threats so far. I’ll go so far as to even reveal my own bias in favor of organics being better for you. That being said, lots more out there have weighed in on this topic, and I’ve taken the effort of sampling some of what they had to say. First up is Howard Yune who writes in the NapaValleyRegister.Com and gets the locals to weigh in on the topic of pesticide avoidance.

Is Organic Produce Better For Your Health: Recent Study Implies Not That Much

Why buy organic food?organic vegetable gardening

A recent survey by Stanford University researchers of 240 studies of organically raised produce, meat and dairy products has raised eyebrows — and some hackles — by its conclusion that foods produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizer have little or no nutritional edge over conventionally raised food.

But a week after the report’s release, many vendors and customers at the Napa Farmers Market dismissed that conclusion as beside the point.

Amid a cornucopia of melons, peppers, eggplants and other farm goods outside the Oxbow Public Market, many of those doing their grocery shopping Tuesday morning called their confidence in natural and locally based farming unshaken.

“I definitely think there not may be more nutritional value, but you’re not poisoning yourself,” said Whitney Shaw, a San Francisco resident visiting the Napa market who said about 85 percent of her food purchases are of organic products.

The report, led and co-written by Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler of the Stanford Center for Health Policy and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was not an original study but instead surveyed 240 existing studies on the health benefits of organic foods.

Smith-Spangler reported the studies showed no special benefits in nutrient content for foods raised without man-made fertilizers and pesticides. The study indicated organic produced was 30 percent less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticide residue, but added most conventionally grown fruits and vegetables remained below federal limits for such substances.

But some customers at the Napa market declared the nutritional value of organic produce is the least of its benefits, compared to the avoidance of chemicals — reflecting media criticisms of the report since its release Sept. 4.

“I think we understood that, but the pesticides are the important point,” said Sandra Koo, a recent transplant from Seattle to Napa while perusing the stalls at the farmers market. “An apple’s an apple, true, but how it’s raised is important. I think it tastes better too.”

Original article here at napavalleyregister.com:

Chris Peterson of the Corvallis Gazette-Times weighed in pretty heavily in favor of — wait for it — organic produce. He has his own reasons. Something to do with the dirt and how it’s grown. Why would that matter? Not addressed in the study by Stanford, so probably not important.

You’ve probably heard about the Stanford University study concluding that organically grown food does not appear to be any more nutritious than conventionally grown food.

The study was a four-year meta-analysis of 237 narrower studies, which raised more questions than it answered. It prompted consumers to re-examine their values concerning how their food is grown.

Frankly, after reading the inconclusive preliminaries, I don’t see why it warranted such press. Stanford paid for this study, but who funded the ones this research relied on? Then questions about one researcher’s suspect connections and university funding from nonorganic food and ag companies called it all into question. Big surprise.

As with elections, fact-checking is advised.

This whole dust-up only strengthened my resolve to buy from local farmers. Don’t just “hug your farmer,” as the bumper sticker commands, talk to her. Ask questions. Most who sell directly to consumers are happy to describe their farming practices.

Soil health is the key to nutrients in food. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can’t make up for depleted, lifeless soil. You know that just from repotting houseplants. Healthful food comes from healthy soil.

See Chris’ entire article here at gazettetimes.com:

Now, when you can get someone who works for a major university to say something, well, that’s saying something. Mike Jett wrote this piece for the Courier-Journal.Com and pointed out some inherent bias in the study in terms of who paid for it, what questions got asked and what kinds of answers were sought after. This is a crucial point. The average layperson believes research is funded to find the truth. Wrong! It’s funded to get the answer that the funding agent wants to see. Truth be told, and as a former research scientist myself, everyone doing research has a set notion of what’s going to be found out from any study or experiment. You have to. It’s your thesis. Truth gets discovered when you get an answer you didn’t expect. Taking a bunch of previously completed research studies (as was the case for the study here) and amalgamating them together into what’s called a meta-analysis gives a result, but it’s out of context with what the original studies were designed to show. I left the links in the excerpt so you could these out directly for yourself.

There was much to-do last week over the media headline ‘Stanford Study Finds Little Evidence of Health Benefits of Organic Foods.’ This headline sparked discussion nationwide and speculation that the term ‘organic’ is over-hyped and merely a method of charging more money for basically the same foods. (For a link to a summary of the study, click here. Curiously, I could not find a link to the actual study…..)

As usual, the media report was misguided on many levels. First, with so many media outlets these days, organizations are forced to ‘sensationalize’ headlines to grab attention, often distorting or embellishing the facts to make a splash. A very recent example of this is the headline: ‘No Yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking?’ This came out a month or so ago and claimed that eating eggs is equally as damaging to the body as smoking. Seriously? Yes, that is what was reported. For a breakdown of this headline/study, visit Dr. Peter Swanz’s website , where he discusses the flaws in the study.

Second, it is very common for large corporations to fund studies. As a university employee I can tell you that research costs money, and funding has to be secured from an external source. Large corporations are very eager to fund studies that support their own agendas. One can imagine that this particular Stanford study may have been funded by a multi-national conventional produce provider. We cannot know for certain, however, because it was claimed that the funding source for this study is ‘unknown.’ Again, as a university employee, I can share that we document EVERYTHING, and every single thing we do has to be approved by multiple people. So, to state that something is unknown is completely absurd.

Read the complete article here at blogs.courier-journal.com:

The controversy over organic produce versus commercial rages on. I certainly suspect that there are powerful money interests in favor of commercial methods because of the enormous profit potential. The organic produce camp is swayed by the knowledge that local and sustainable and pesticide free is the only way that we as a species can survive in the long run. Unfortunately, no monied benefactors are waiting in the wings to fund a counter study to substantiate their position. On the other hand, there are those who take the viewpoint that the way we grow our food is destined to change out of necessity in order to feed and provide nutrition to everyone on this planet. ElizabethMcVay Greene argues in The Huffington Post that the future of our agricultural practices are going to be unconventional in nature. That the best way to produce vegetable and fruit crops that have the highest nutrient content and are most desirable to consume are at present only grown locally.

This organic nonsense has to stop. I’d like to politely request that those who don’t know agriculture cease writing about it as though they do, stoking an already divisive debate that misses the heart of the problem we face: We’re not sure how we should be growing food, and thus we’re not sure how to eat.

Anyone who suggests that a crop can be raised without the provision of nutrients and pest management should not opine on agriculture. Roger Cohen, I’m talking to you.

Saturday’s opinion piece in the New York Times, “The Organic Fable,” shows me just how far off course the discussion of agricultural production has gotten, because it spreads misinformation and focuses squarely on the wrong problem. If we continue to debate organic versus conventional, continue to view food choices as an emblem of class, and continue to use the nine billion future people of the world as a gauntlet that the human race must run, we are in trouble because the question is not first about production. It’s about distribution.

We produce enough to feed 1.3 billion more people than we actually do. And that’s in American proportions. In 2000, the USDA reported that Americans consumed almost 2,000 pounds of food per person per year. Meanwhile, 1.3 billion tons of global food production goes to waste each year. Production by any method, standard or label is not our most pressing problem.

Read the original piece at huffingtonpost.com:

Whether you favor organic produce or conventionally grown, the argument about which is better for you may be increasingly moot in the future with availability for all becoming the new focus for concern. I agree that the highest nutritional value is while it’s still attached to the soil it sprang from. Once harvested, it’s a race to the bottom as far as nutritional content is concerned. An organic apple that traveled 3000 miles and was on the tree 2 weeks ago is never as good as one just picked. True, there are fewer pesticide residues in it versus one from the factory orchard in, say, New Zealand. Is one better nutritionally than another at that point is anyone’s guess. The Stanford study simply measured what it could, but the truly important measurements may not be, in the end, measurable at all. Good nutrition for all without too many harmful extras is best.

What do you think of this? Is it important to you what you eat and where it comes from? Leave a comment below and please share this with those friends and others close to you who care about this subject. Click the share button and spread these ideas to others.

Plan Now For Next Year’s Vegetable Garden

Just when you’ve  gotten this year’s vegetable garden put away for the year, it’s time to start planning for next year’s garden. When you come to realize that the majority of Americans plan to engage in some form of gardening projects next year, it’s truly amazing. Just think about how many are pulled into the vegetable patch each year. MyWestTexas.com put out a recent article that I thought would provoke those of you who were going to hibernate for the winter and get you starting thinking about what you’ll do for next spring’s planting season.

Plan Now For Next Year’s Vegetable Garden

Planning a spring vegetable garden? According to the National Gardening Association, eight out of 10 Americans will engage in some

vegetable garden

Photo by audaxl c/o Photos.Com.

variety of gardening in 2013 whether it’s in the form of planting an extensive vegetable patch, forcing indoor bulbs or planting some color near the front door of your home. Don’t allow the cool temperatures and shorter days of fall to retire your thoughts from chores that can be done now to make a spring vegetable garden more successful.

Decide today which vegetables you want to have on your table next year and plan accordingly. Site selection is the first step in planning your garden. Chose a flat location that receives plenty of sunlight; most vegetables require six to eight hours. If the garden receives too much intense light you can always provide shade, but a site that is too shady can’t be corrected. High winds can really do a number on your vegetables, so chose a site that provides protection from our West Texas gusts.

The best vegetable garden is the one you plan well ahead of time and get everything ready for in advance. Remember to keep your garden plan in line with your ability to manage it. In fact, you could even plan for a denser garden within the same footprint by adopting some square-foot gardening techniques. Try something new you haven’t done before and just see how it goes. Then share it with us here.
Please leave a comment and let everyone know what you’re up to in the garden plot.
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

Vegetable Gardening For Better Health

When it comes to vegetable gardening in general, I doubt that anyone would debate that growing your own vegetables isn’t good for your health. After all, the assumption is that you eat what you grow. That’s a given. Not many of us (well,not me anyway) would actually consider that simply by participating in the activity of growing your own food in your garden you are promoting your better health. That’s right! Yet, it’s so obvious nobody discusses it. Simply by going through all of the routine gardening activities like digging and moving soil, weeding, watering, planting and harvesting, you’re more or less doing the equivalent of going to the gym on a regular basis. Here is a short article outlining four health benefits derived from vegetable gardening written by Emily Main of Rodale News reprinted on the Mother Nature Network.

Vegetable Gardening For Better Health

If the idea of digging in the dirt has never much appealed to you, consider this: A growing number of studies are finding improved mental and physical health benefits of gardening that extend far beyond the obvious rewards of exercise and fresh air. And in this economy, the free food certainly doesn’t hurt. There’s no need to dig up your entire back yard, either.
You need only a window box or a few houseplants to see these improvements in your health:

vegetable gardening

Vegetable gardening promotes good health through regular physical activity. Photo by Comstock c/o Photos.Com.

1. Improve your satisfaction with life.
It’s hard not to enjoy life when you’re surrounded by flowers, vegetables and all the wildlife they attract — and now there’s science to back that up. Professors from the University of Texas and Texas A&M asked 298 older adults how they would rate their “zest for life,” levels of optimism, and overall resolution and fortitude and found that gardeners had significantly higher scores in all those areas than non-gardeners.
Whether you’re vegetable gardening as a hobby or you’re doing it on a larger scale for profit, there are significant health benefits to doing so. Eating what you grow is beneficial to your health in more ways as well. Just think, by tending your vegetable garden regularly, you’re saving yourself the cost of a gym membership too. What a bargain!
Participating in moderately intense, regular but sustained physical activity helps to maintain good health and can be done at almost any age. As we boomers get older, we’d be wise to consider activities such as gardening, walking, or even yoga as ways to keep ourselves fit and out of the doctor’s office.
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Red beans and ricely yours.  — Louis Armstrong

Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Dirty Dozen And The Clean Fifteen

Many of us practice organic vegetable gardening to improve the nutrition value of what we feed our families, while at the same time eliminating unwanted pesticides from our diets. A recent study indicated that organic and commercially grown produce were, for all intents and purposes, identical. So, they concluded, why spend the extra money for organic produce? Here Bobby Shuttleworth writing for the WAFF.Com provides some insights into the study’s conclusions that there were no real differences between organic and commercially grown produce. Now, we all know better, don’t we.

Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Dirty Dozen And The Clean Fifteen

A recent report by Stanford University looked at more than 200 previous studies comparing organic and non organic produce. Parkway Campus Registered Dietician Kim Donohue deciphered the study.

“Statistically, there was no significant difference in the vitamins. Now there was a difference in the pesticide levels,” said Donohue.

And that can make a healthy difference for the careful shopper.organic vegetable gardening

“Of course organic foods do have lower pesticide levels, although fruits and vegetables do make natural pesticides to protect themselves,” Donohue said.

She said produce also absorbs pesticides differently.

Donohue said it goes back to what’s known as the “dirty dozen” or the “clean 15.”

“Fruits and vegetables with thinner skins tend to hold more pesticides. Fruits with thicker skin tend to hold less pesticides. Apples, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers – they have more pesticides.”

She said produce grown in the U.S. also contains fewer pesticides.

See the list of the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen here at waff.com:

Organic vegetable gardening produces pesticide free and nutrient rich produce. You know it and so do I. I’ll be discussing this in an upcoming post in more detail and putting this into better perspective for you. Stay tuned.

Go ahead and leave a comment and share your opinion on this. Have you seen the study? What do you think? Please share this with someone and click the like button to do so.

I have always thought a kitchen garden a more pleasant sight than the finest orangery. I lovee to see everything in perfection, and am more pleased to survey my rows of coleworts and cabbages, with a thousand nameless pot herbs springing up in their full fragrancy and verdure, than to see the tender plants of foreign countries.                                           —  Joseph Addison

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.
Please leave a comment and share any gardening experiences with the rest of us here.
The day of fortune is like a harvest day, We must be busy when the corn is ripe.
                                                                 — Torquato Tasso

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.
Please share your thoughts and experiences here by leaving a comment below. Also, please click on the like button to share this idea with a like minded friend or relative.
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

First Hospital-Based Greenhouse To Grow Organic Vegetables Year Round

Wouldn’t it be terrific to be able to grow organic vegetables year round? Having the benefit of all of that nutrient-dense and pesticide-free produce at your fingertips would be a windfall to your continued good health. Well, who better to to implement this idea than a hospital? After all, you have a population of patients who are trying to recover from their illnesses, as well as hospital staff who have to be at their physical best all of the time. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital located in West Bloomfield, Michigan (coincidentally where I grew up) has become the first hospital in the nation to build and start a hospital-based greenhouse. I mean, such a great idea! Feed people nutritious organic vegetables and fruits so they can recover more quickly and to enhance the dining experience which provides positive psychological benefits that will also improve the overall experience for patients. A recent article by Sylvia Rector written for the Detroit Free Press highlights this concept.

First Hospital-Based Greenhouse To Grow Organic Vegetables Year Round

Perched on a 8-foot ladder, Michelle Lutz reaches into the leafy tops of the pole-bean vines growing toward the glass roof of Henry

grow organic vegetables

Grow organic vegetables year round in a greenhouse.

Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s new $1-million hydroponic greenhouse.

“The first ones!” the resident farmer declares, holding up several young pods.

Already that morning she had picked red and green lettuces, heirloom cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, edible nasturtiums and bunches of herbs for the hospital’s kitchen, which uses the produce in patients’ meals and its cafe.

Dozens of kinds of vegetables and herbs — five types of kale, 23 kinds of tomatoes, five varieties of basil, eggplants, squash, hot and sweet peppers, fresh herbs, microgreens and even strawberry plants — have been thriving since mid-summer in what Henry Ford officials say is the first hospital-based greenhouse in the nation.

It is surprisingly prolific. Hospital chefs no longer have to buy microgreens or basil, their most-used herb, because the greenhouse produces all they need. “If I manage this properly,” Lutz says, indicating her 12-by-20-foot hydroponic table, “this will produce 15,000 heads of lettuce in a year. For 240 square feet, that’s pretty incredible.”

But growing organic vegetables year-round for the hospital’s kitchens isn’t the only purpose of the gleaming, 1,500-square-foot glass structure and its adjoining educational center, both entirely funded by an anonymous donor.

The buildings, which will be unveiled Saturday, are designed to educate and inspire everyone from patients to the public to make healthier food choices — in keeping with the hospital’s mission of promoting wellness as well as treating illness.

And because of Michigan’s high childhood obesity rates, many of its educational center exhibits and programs are geared toward kids.

“We want to make sure that every single day we have yellow school buses coming here from all over southeast Michigan,” says hospital CEO Gerard van Grinsven. “We want to influence our young ones to start thinking differently about food and what they put in their bodies.”

His vision for the project doesn’t stop at the West Bloomfield campus. “Ultimately, we can take this to downtown Detroit and start producing food for the entire (Henry Ford) system — not have it just here,” van Grinsven says.

“This is not just about a little greenhouse. It’s about planting seeds,” he says.

Read the entire article here at freep.com:

To grow organic vegetables in a greenhouse attached to a major hospital is very leading-edge. Given recent and some would say drastic changes coming soon to a health care system near you, being able to improve nutrition as part of health care delivery is a natural step forward. We should all try to grow something in our own gardens and improve our health over the long run in order to decrease the risk of having to be in the hospital in the first place. Try your own hand at growing something in your backyard. If you happen to be in a position to have access to a greenhouse, it expands your growing season and your options as a gardener.

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Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.   —  Doug Larson