Love at First Bite
5 tips that will help you fall in love with your organic vegetable garden.
Fickle hearts can waver when it comes to almost anything:
significant others, favorite sports teams, desserts and, yes,
even gardens. Gardens can invite this change of heart because
they need lots of attention, take up space in our yards and
sometimes don't give as much as they get. Luckily, there are
ways to tip the balance and keep things fresh in your
relationship with your garden.
Grow your own seedlingsGrowing your own seedlings is an easy way to add variety and wonder to your garden. It's often difficult to find organic seedlings and, when they're available, they're usually very expensive. All you need to grow your own are some seeds, containers to grow them in, organic potting mix, a warm, sunny spot, labels to keep track of who's who and the ability keep the plants watered. You will be rewarded with healthy plants and a new sense of interest in their well-being.
Putting your seedling plants into your garden will help you keep it more organized and orderly--they take off faster than direct seeded plants, so they choke weeds out better and they bear fruit (or vegetables!) sooner. If at all possible, vegetable plants such as tomatoes, eggplants and peppers should always be put into your garden as seedlings instead of direct seeded. Since garden stores often have a very limited selection of these plants, growing your own will open up whole new worlds of varieties for you to try.
Use mulch to keep weeds awayA messy garden that's full of weeds would be enough to make anyone break up with their veggies. There are ways to keep the weedy invaders under control without breaking out the spray bottle. One of the best ones is using mulch. Mulch can be made of almost anything. Hay, straw, wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, pebbles or stones and plastic or rubber are all materials used for mulching. By covering the soil around your plants with a layer of mulch deep enough to block out light, you prevent weed seeds from sprouting and trying to take over your garden.
Concentrate on growing varieties of plants that you know and loveResearchers who study happiness have found that the most sure-fire way to be happy is to stick with things that you know and love as opposed to continually seeking out and trying new things that you may or may not like. This holds true when it comes to your vegetable garden. Once you have found a variety that works well in your garden and produces vegetables that taste good and make you happy, it's hard to do better. Growing and enjoying your favorite varieties time and time again is your ticket to gardening bliss!
Don't overdo--grow less, enjoy more!It's so temping to get caught up in the idea of having loads and loads of produce from your garden to can, freeze, pickle, dry, puree, enter in fairs, and whatever else you feel compelled to do with it. They question is, how many quarts of tomato sauce or gallons of pickles will you realistically make this year? If you only have a couple of plants in your garden but you eat almost everything that they produce, you will love your garden much more than if you have hundreds of plants that all have bushels of produce that you have to harvest and use or dispose of somehow. A garden full of giant, spiny zucchinis, rotting, unpicked tomatoes and armloads of tough, yellowing, basil is hard to love. Plant less than you think you will need and you will take better care of the plants and appreciate what they give you more.
Follow these tips so that you can enjoy watching your very own seedlings grow up to provide you with your favorite vegetables. Even better, they'll be doing it in a weed-free garden that's full of birds and butterflies. Best of all, you will have a great time picking manageable amounts of produce and using it while it's still fresh and delicious. How's that for keeping the magic alive?
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Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.