May 21, 2013

Getting Obsessed with Organic Gardening

Guess who’s getting obsessed with organic gardening?

Yup, the lady whose house is “where plants go to die.”


Since hubby and I embarked on a major project to transform our lawn into an eco-friendly lawn, I’ve been reading up on organic gardening. (A lawn update will be coming in a separate post)

Organic Gardening Book

I looked for a good, reliable resource about organic gardening and finally chose a book by Phil Nauta, entitled, “Building Soils Naturally.”

There are plenty of books, magazines, and websites on organic gardening, but Phil’s approach attracted me. He’s a trained and experienced horticulturist who grew up caring for a golf course. He’s also a certified land care professional by the Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL). Plus, he’s Canadian.

Phil’s premise — and this is also the heart of organic gardening — is that we must make the soil healthy in order to grow healthy plants.

Phil got me into using effective microorganisms and doing Bokashi composting. Because of Phil, I got my soil tested, bought organic fertilizer, and mulched my yard with straw.

But since I read Phil’s book at the end of the growing season last year, I haven’t really been able to apply much of what I learned until Spring came along.

Now I’ve been puttering around in the garden, eager to bring more life and diversity in my yard.

I’ve overseeded my backyard with more eco-friendly grass. I’ve supplemented the soil with calcium and organic fertilizer. I’ve also ordered more effective microorganisms (or EM), kelp fertilizer, and organic molasses so I can begin spraying Phil’s Foliar Recipe (on page 284 of the book), which is supposed to help build the soil naturally.

When I began making the “investment” to follow Phil’s organic gardening guidelines, it dawned on me: Why am I spending so much money to grow a nice, organic lawn when I could use that resource to grow food instead?

How to Grow Food Easily – No Digging!

So this year, I’m challenging myself to grow herbs and vegetables.

This time, I turned to an ebook for guidance, specifically Food4Wealth by Jonathan White. I like its simple approach to growing food — much simpler than Phil’s, because he tends to get technical and scientific. Jonathan’s method can even be adapted to container gardening, if you don’t have a yard to grow food in.

Food4Wealth Grow Food Easily

I was going to allocate a 8′ x 8′ area of my backyard to grow food in, but now I’m having second thoughts. I really want a nice lawn! So I may adapt the Food4Wealth method to a strip of soil along the side of my house. This soil is so barren that weeds didn’t even grow on it last year. I buried some Bokashi compost in it last year and covered  it up with straw, so it must be a lot healthier now. In fact, I’ve been pulling a few weeds out of it (which is really easy if the soil has been properly mulched).

I’ve got some heirloom tomato seeds starting indoors, as well as some cucumber and herb seeds. As soon as I get compost and more straw, I’ll be all set to begin implementing the Food4Wealth method. I’d also like to grow some carrots, spring onions, and snap peas, because I know we’ll be able to eat them. I’ll keep you posted!

A Flower Garden, Organically

Meantime, I’ve been planting flowers. I decided to transform the front of our porch into a flower bed. I think I’ve got assimilated “organic thinking,” because I covered the area surrounding my new plants with newspapers and straw — only to find out later that it was the right thing to do!

Below, you will see the rose, echinacea, and crawling phlox I’ve planted so far:

Organic flower garden

I may or may not cover the straw with compost when I finally get around to picking some up my city’s solid waste authority. I’m at the mercy of my husband’s schedule, and unfortunately, when the solid waste authority is open is also when my hubby is at work.

But it shall get done!

I’m expecting about a dozen more plants I ordered online, including a climbing rose and flowering perennials. I’ll definitely keep you in the loop about my organic gardening adventures, both my failures and successes. I only hope there are more of the latter than the former.

How’s Your Garden?

How about you? What are your gardening projects this year? Do you have tips for a newbie organic gardener like me? Do share!

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Alexis Rodrigo