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Occupy Your Garden

Posted by Rory Holland on

Ok, so if you didn’t before, now you’ve got a great excuse for growing your own vegetables. For the price of some seeds, and a few blisters – you can have fresh practically free food right out your front door. Beats the heck out of those veggies at the store that have been trucked up from the Central valley of California along with their American dollar prices.

This is the year, and we’re here to help. Here’s a top ten list of what you need to grow all the salad you can eat, and more.

  1. Get composting! Build and feed the soil with microorganisms, worms, and organic matter! Never mind those little hardware store composters – you need about a metre square of material – 30-40% nitrogen (green – grass clippings, kitchen scraps, seaweed, manures) and 60-70% carbon ( brown – woodchips, old leaves, straw). Add a couple of cups of molasses to get things going. Let it sit for a week to heat up, then turn it over once a week for about 8 weeks.

  1. Don’t till that soil! I know it feels good to churn everything up to give a fresh start – but by doing so you disrupt the brilliant growing network of mycelium under the ground that is nature’s internet – connecting plants with what they need. As well, the more you dig, the more you spread those weeds. Cut old plants off at the soil, let the roots rot and return good stuff back to the ground.

  1. Give your seeds a head start. Using a combination of potting soil (sterile) and vermiculate plant your tomato, cucumber, bean, and pepper seeds indoors - you can use any desk lamp, or get fancy with a grow light keeping it low over the tray to grow strong little guys who, once there’s a couple sets of leaves, can be transplanted in the big outdoors.

  1. Root and tubers, straight in! Once it’s warm enough ( over 10 degrees at night) direct seed carrots, beets, parsnips into the dirt – make sure they’ve got lots of room underneath to grow down.

  1. Cut and plant potatoes. Either the seed stock from a nursery or the organic ones that are going green in your drawer can work to provide a great mid summer harvest. Cut them such that there is at least one ‘eye’ per piece. Trench the row and drop ‘em in – covering with 2-3 inches of good soil. As they grow, continue to bury the leaves as that’ll make for more potatoes later on!

  1. Cover ‘em up – once outside those little guys are still a wee vulnerable to late frost, birds, or even too much early sun. Cover up the seedlings with remay or an equivalent cloth – that provides protection and insulation while still allowing light and water to get through. Once they’ve got a good foothold and the days are longer and warmer you can remove the cover.

  2. Mulch – bare dirt is like exposed skin. Use straw, old leaves, or even shredded newspaper to cover all the spots that aren’t planted – it’ll suppress the weeds, hold moisture, and create a lovely haven for beneficial soil critters.

  1. Jump ahead of the weeds – get ‘em before they seed! Hand pull weeds before they take over. They are just doing their job, but since you want other stuff to grow – they need to step aside. The goal is simply to advantage the good by disadvantaging the not so good.

  1. Sharpen your tools – now’s the time to get at those pruners, clippers, lawn mower blades, anything with a blade – all sharp – not only does it make the work so much easier, but means the cuts are cleaner and less damaging to the plant, tree, or shrub.

  1. Call yourself a gardener – There is nothing more honourable, or obvious, than to occupy our gardens, and nourish ourselves and our families with the fruits of our labour. Wear those dirty finger nails with pride!

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