Getting original with organic

Get your hands dirty and grow your own fruits and veggies

newDonnawebWill you jump up today and start growing your own food?

Even though it’s early spring and you might not have an acreage or farm-scale garden, today is the perfect day to get started.

With water shortages in California – where most of our lettuce comes from – and climate change everywhere, it’s time to try your hand at gardening.

And if you are growing your own, why not grow it organically?

Here are tips to get started even if your urban farm is an inner-city patio:

You don’t need a field or a framed wooden box to grow strawberries. Farmer Dean Kreutzer, near Lumsden, Sask., has a 10-hectare farm, but he grows strawberries in fabric bags.

Kreutzer places the bags on raised flood trays for easy watering and picking. He grows enough to sell his berries at his local farmer’s market.

strawberries

Many people wait until they can find a person to build them a wooden box or dig them a garden before they start growing in spring. Don’t delay; start growing today in pots, preferably fabric pots such as Root Pouches or Smartpots.

I never have enough room for potatoes in the ground, and am always fighting for space – until this spring when I started growing potatoes in Root Pouches and wire-fence planters. Now, I have plenty of room. The one-metre-tall wire fence, bent into a circle, allows me to use vertical space instead of ground space to grow more food.

As the potatoes grow, I fill up the pots or wire cages with more soil. I liked it so much I published a two-minute video about this on my YouTube channel No Guff Gardening.

Even though cabbage family plants such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are good for us, bugs are on to that secret too. And sometimes they eat more than their share of the plant.

To combat hungry critters, I bought a roll of nine-gauge wire, cut it into one-metre lengths, pushed it into the ground and covered the wire with protektnet or grownet. These two different products let in the sun and rain, but keep out the bugs likely to eat our food. Both products were ordered online, but ask around; local suppliers are always adding new stock.

Many of the organic fertilizers sold are based on biosolids made from human waste and would never be certified for organic growing. Look for worm castings made from local animal manures and green or local kitchen waste instead of peat or bio-solids. This won’t eliminate all risks, but will reduce the chance of heavy metal accumulation in your garden.
Other natural fertilizers include your own compost. Consider making your own composts to improve your fledgling garden this summer.

And P.S., even though today is the best day to start growing your own food, tomorrow and the next day are pretty good as well. So just get growing.

Donna Balzer is a garden writer and entertaining speaker. Check out her blog at www.gardenguru.net or follow her on twitter @NoGuffGardener.

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