Gardening is an activity that has spanned countless generations. From the first peoples, who observed that discarded seeds became spring shoots for their nourishment, to those of us who delight in gardening wherever we can cultivate—rooftops, planters or backyards—we find a way to experience the joy of gardening.
Photo By Diana Taliun/Fotolia
My paternal grandmother, whom we called ‘Dee’, was an incredible organic gardener. She had green thumbs and read the farmers almanac faithfully. Truth be told, I think she had some of her own magic incantations she must have mumbled and sung as she planted her garden each year. I remember being awed by this prodigious realm of climbing beans, tomatoes sprawling everywhere, flowers of every color, tall stalks of corn, winding shoots of cucumbers and crook-neck squash, crowning onions and so much more filling tiered spaces in the backyard of her home in Concord, North Carolina. Steamy summers with air so thick you could swim in it, full of all manner of flying creatures—in this southern jungle, Dee cultivated extraordinary fruits and vegetables that became delectable squash casseroles, apple pies, stewed tomatoes and pickled relishes that I dare say I still crave.
Today more than 12 million Americans enjoy growing gardens using only all-natural fertilizers and insect and weed control and our numbers continue to grow. Organic gardening is good for us and all the creatures that make their living in our backyards.
As we approach the growing season, the question is what to plant? As I am a novice, I have gathered some helpful hints that might assist you and me in making innovative and tasty choices for our fruit and vegetable gardens.
Planning Your Garden
According to Organic Lifestyle magazine there are three basics to getting the most from choosing where to plant your garden: sun, water and access. Plants need at least six hours of sun per day with many types needing more. Observe the areas you are thinking of planting and work out which spots receive the most sun and where your shade is. Make sure you have easy access to water and navigation of your plots. Our household placed our garden along a fence in the backyard, taking advantage of full sun for our tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and shade from a nearby tree for growing mixed salad greens all summer!
Another great tip from Organic Lifestyle is to take stock of what vegetables you and your family enjoy and try planting some of your favorites. Some relatively easy-to-grow vegetables are tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. I encourage involving your children in the family garden. Kids may not be much help with weeding as they might pull the sprouts. However, your child will delight in planting a few rows of seeds, marking it and helping with the watering. Come harvest time, her joy will be yours to treasure.
The Dirt on Soil
Soil is full of beneficial living organisms. Did you know that one handful of soil can hold 6 billion lifeforms?Amending the soil by adding compost to enrich and condition the soil in your garden feeds these friendly organisms. Adding compost speeds up the natural process of soil building by recycling nutrients from the organic matter back to the earth that then supplies the plants with the food they need to grow strong. In fact, organic soils have been found to produce fruits and vegetables containing as much as 40 percent higher levels of antioxidants, which are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease and many cancers.
Those tiny powerhouses become the food we will harvest. At America’s Best Organics, we offer organic seed packets that you can add to any of our gift collections at checkout from our friends at Botanical Interests, a local family-owned and -operated seed company in our Colorado community. Not only do their seeds mature into delicious foods, their beautifully illustrated seed packets are packed with helpful information on successfully cultivating your seeds. They also offer heirloom and unique seed varieties that you will not find anywhere else.
Try your hand at gardening. Be it in a pot on your porch or raised beds in the backyard, start simple. This amazing journey from seed to table is sure to become a part of your healthy lifestyle practice for years to come. Sow your seeds with love and enjoy the journey to harvest time!
Seleyn DeYarus is a long-time advocate of the positive impact of healthy lifestyles on people and the environment. Based in Boulder, Colorado, she is majority owner and CEO of Best Organics, Inc., an organic and sustainable brands promotion company and provider of America's Best Organics gourmet gift basket collections. Learn more about Seleyn and find your next best gift at AmericasBestOrganics.com.