Sunday, May 1, 2011

Self Sustaining Family Gardens- An Organic Accident

Now that I've looked into water collection, desalination, distillation of water, I've got an irrigation plan ready for our self-sustaining family garden projects, so I went looking around for the best tips on gardening and on gardening for kids.

The first tip I read was to give the garden Southern exposure to give it the most sun.  I wasn't sure that was such a good idea here in Florida, considering how strong our son is, but I didn't  really have a choice as that was the only place to plant the garden, but I did give it some shade, and I am considering a greenhouse, possibly using solar energy and condensation from a collection of rain and nearby saltwater to control the climate and irrigate.

I know a little bit about crop rotation as well, so when the greenhouse is ready, I'll grow what I can when I can outside and use soil solarization to try to eliminate any pest threats to the crops.

This technique is largely used in areas that have
abundant sunshine and high temperatures. However, it
can be adapted for cooler areas as well. The results
may not be quite as effective, but it can do wonders
in your battle against weeds.

What exactly is solarization? It is a technique that
does not use chemicals, but it captures the sun’s
radiant heat and energy which, in turn, causes
physical, biological and chemical changes in the soil.

These changes are able to control or eliminate soil
borne plant pathogens including bacteria, fungi,
pests, and nematodes along with weeds.

In order to solarize the soil, you must cover it with
a clear plastic tarp for approximately 4 to 6 weeks
during a time of the year when it is very hot and when
the soil will be able to receive maximum direct

Although I didn't set out to start an 'organic' garden, I accidentally bought some organic seeds, so I did some research on organic gardening, and found that there are some benefits to it that I hadn't considered.

1.One can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste. Though this is a bit more time-consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers, it certainly helps to put garbage to good use and so saves the environment.- First we raked out the old undeveloped flower beds that were now just a collection of leaves, and started a compost pile with them.We'll add more compost material to it over time to start generating rich soil.  We used the leftover hard boiled eggs from easter and our left over coffee grounds to help enrich our soil.

2. Organic farming does not use chemicals that may have an adverse affect on your health. This is especially important when growing vegetables. Chemical companies tell us that the chemicals we use are safe if used according to direction, but research shows that even tiny amounts of poisons absorbed through the skin can cause such things as cancer, especially in children. We didn't know this, so now I'm even more committed to getting that greenhouse built where I can control the soil conditions and the climate.

On the average, a child ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult. This can lead to various diseases later on in the child's life. With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.

Remember, pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose - to kill living things.

3. Less harm to the environment. Poisons are often washed into our waterways, causing death to the native fish and polluting their habitat. Luckily we have the information on desalinating and distilling water.  I'm considering a way to do this inside the green house where there will be more and purer air thanks to the plant life that makes oxygen... since some contaminants of the water can still make it through the desalination process.

4.Organic farming practices help prevent the loss of topsoil through erosion.
The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 - 32 billion tons of soil erodes from United States farmlands every year.  Our composting project should help us to use less topsoil as we'll be creating nutrient rich soil through our composting project.

4. Cost savings. One does not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard. Sometimes other plants can be grown as companions to the main crop. An example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from vegetables. This is definitely something I want to look further into, since I was forced to plant our food garden in our front yard instead of our back yard.  With some flowers added to the area, it just might be more aesthetically pleasing.
Mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 cup of cooking oil can make a cheap garden pest spray. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on plants.  I love the idea of not having to run to Wal Mart or Home Depot for pest spray!

5.A simple mulch of pine needles will help to suppress the growth of weeds as well as keeping the moisture in. Excellent!  Pine needles are in abundant supply around here and they don't smell so good when you burn them, plus they smoke like crazy.

6. Organic gardening practices help to keep the environment safe for future generations.  We started this project for our own future generation, our kids.

So now our self-sustaining garden is 'semi-organic' and once we get our first greenhouse from Amazon, we'll go 100% organic.

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