One Stop Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening Doesn't Have To Be Intimidating

The purpose of One Stop Organic Gardening, as the name implies, is to give you a single, simple to understand, source for your organic information and gardening needs.  If you knew nothing about gardening and wanted to give organic gardening a try, you will find this site a great resource of information, tips, and the gardening tools that will make your organic garden a success.

What is Organic Gardening All About?

Growing your own herbs, vegetables, greens and fruit can be both incredibly rewarding and delicious.  However, many gardeners rely on pesticides, herbicides and fungicides not to mention chemical fertilizers to help their garden grow.  That’s not only unnecessary, it’s also unhealthy. All those nutritious veggies pack a much healthier punch if they’re sans harmful chemicals.

Reduce your use of commercial fertilizers and reduce the amount of phosphates, nitrates, and other chemicals that end up polluting our waters. Combine the algae blooms that occur because of these high nutrient waters with warmer weather and you read about widespread fish kills on a regular basis.

Whether you go completely organic or just supplement your garden fertilizing by composting…every bit helps.  Of course, if you go completely organic, that also involves not using chemical pesticides that are not natural.  When I was a kid, I remember sprinkling sulfur in our vegetable garden to keep the bugs away and going out nightly and sprinkling salt on snails and slugs.  You can also introduce natural pest controls, such as lady bugs and praying mantis to replace insecticides.

By eliminating or at least reducing commercial fertilizers and insecticides, loaded with unhealthy chemicals, you provide your family with healthier produce.  There is even a growing interests in getting back to natural plants or heirloom plants, versus the commercial hybrids and genetically altered plants that dominate the market.  The problem with genetically altered seeds is that while they may be more pest, drought, and disease resistant, we do not know what the long-term effects upon us may be.  There are some indications that while they may increase food production in the short term, they may do long term damage to our own DNA and/or reproductive systems.

And, of course, if you extend this to include genetically altered animals or genetically altered feed that is fed to animals that will eventually enter our food supply as eggs, chicken, pork, or beef, you can start to understand why the interest in organically grown foods is a growing trend.  The great thing about organic gardening is that you know your produce is free of these additives and healthier for your family and you.

Don't stop at Organic Gardening

People who are interested in organic gardening are often the same people who are concerned about the environment in general.  There are additional things you can do to help stop or minimize our impact on Mother Nature.  Something as simple as a rain barrel collection system can lower your water usage and accompanying bill, not to mention provide fluoride and chlorine free water for your fruits and vegetables.  Over the course of a growing season, you might only save 500-600 gallons of water, but what if we all used 500 gallons less water each year?

While not part of "organic gardening" as such, electric mowers and trimmers can be a relatively painless way to help reduce your carbon footprint. As a matter of fact, the next time you’re out and having to fight to get your gas mower started, spill gas while refilling the mower, or having to deal with the smell on your hands and clothes, you may start to think of other benefits of going electric.  With gas prices rising and talk of possible $5/gallon this summer, its easy to see that going electric may pay for itself.

Well, this should give you a better understanding of where I’m coming from and why I have created this website.  I have done the homework for you and selected a number of products that represent some of the best in each category, so you don’t have to.  While the primary focus of this site is to help guide you in your organic gardening,  I think you’ll agree that saving natural resources, money, reducing our carbon footprint,  and saving time is just as important.

I hope you find One Stop Organic Gardening a helpful resource in making your organic garden fun, easy and a tasty success.


Organic Secrets

Gardeners, Discover The Easy Way To Save Money and Eat Healthy For Life With Organic Secrets.

Organic Secrets

Organic Secrets is an amazing fact filled book.  Over two years to research and write and now for the first time available as a digital download.  You will be able to start reading this “comprehensive manual to everything organic” in less than five minutes. 

Order Organic Secrets and you’ll have the plain, simple facts about growing your own healthy organic produce in your garden. 

There is a special of 75% off the regular price on this e-book available now.  See below.

You’ll get over 40 chapters that explain in plain and simple terms how to become ‘Organic’ – You will read about the basics including: creating the best soil, when and how to plant seeds through to great time and labor saving ideas on eradicating garden pests safely and choosing the perfect tools to make light of any task.

“This fantastic, easy to follow guide book is written for both the amateur gardener and the enthusiast alike.”

If you are new to organic gardening the in-depth advice on growing over 36 different types of vegetables will be indispensable – find out when to sow, maintain your crop and when to harvest to get the very best from your garden.

Here are just some of the delicious, healthy, vegetables covered in this great book:

 Broad Beans, French Beans, Runner Beans
 Broccoli & Calabrese
 Brussels Sprouts
 Spring, Summer and Autumn Cabbages
 Corn Salad
 Sweet corn
 Tomatoes . . . . . And Many More !

Organic Secrets will help you keep your family healthy and save you hundreds of dollars each year on your shopping bill.

Organic Secrets has been specially created in e-book format – this means that when you order your copy you will receive it within minutes and you will be reading and putting the advice into practice.


100% Guarantee

Ordering is fast secure and easy – All transactions are handled by PayPal. 

Get your copy now for just $19.95.  To show my appreciation for interest in my site, I am selling this e-book at a special price of $4.99.  That’s 75% off the regular price!  Buy it now before its too late.

WORRY FREE:  If for any reason you are not 100%  delighted with your purchase we will refund your payment in full for up to 30 days no questions asked.  That’s more than a guarantee, that’s a promise!

Organic Secrets


Please Note:  In order to read Organic Secrets you will need: Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT4, Me, 2000 or XP, and you’ll need Internet Explorer 4 or later.


Vegetable Gardening

Vegetable gardening has lately become just as popular as going to the grocery store fore produce.  Vegetable gardening can produce vegetable that are usually cheaper than store bought, and vegetables from a home vegetable garden definitely taste better by far.  Vegetable gardening is no different than growing herbs or flowers and if the proper steps are taken and the plants are give the proper care they will flourish and produce very tasty vegetables.

First you must decide what size of garden you wish to plant and then select a place for it; somewhere that has good drainage, good air flow, and good, deep soil.  It also needs to be able to get as much sunlight as possible.  Because vegetable gardens have such tasty rewards, many animals, such as dogs, rabbits, deer, and many others will try and get to your veggies.  One way to prevent this is to surround your garden with a fence, or put out a trap to catch mice, moles, and other animals.

Before planting, the soil must be properly prepared.  Good soil for vegetable gardening is achieved by cultivation and the application of organic materials.  The soil must be tilled (plowed) to control weeds and mix mulch into the soil.  If you have a small garden, spading could be a better bet than plowing.  Mulching is also a vital part of soil preparation.  Organic matter added to the soil releases nitrogen, minerals, and other nutrients plants need to thrive.  The most popular and best type of mulch you can use is compost.

While the kind and amount of fertilizer used depends on the soil and types of plants, there are some plants that have specific needs; leafy plants, like cabbage, spinach, and lettuce usually grow better with more nitrogen, while root crops like potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots require more potash.  Tomatoes and beans use less fertilizer, while plants like onions, celery, and potatoes need a larger amount.

One thing that is vitally important in vegetable gardening is the garden arrangement.  There is no single plan that will work for every garden due to varying conditions.  One popular way to arrange a vegetable garden is to plant vegetables needing only limited space together, such as radishes, lettuce, beets, and spinach, and those that require more room together, such as corn, pumpkins, and potatoes.  Try and plant tall growing plants towards the back of the garden and shorter ones in the front so that their sunlight does not get blocked.

When you are finally ready to begin planting your vegetable garden, make sure and plant at the right time of year.  If you are dying to get an early start, you may want begin your garden inside in a hotbed and then transplant when the weather permits.  After you are finished planting, make sure your vegetables receive the appropriate amount of water, which depends on the type of plant.  Most plants will need the equivalent to about an inch of water per week.


Expert Author Julie Williams

Beans – both fresh and dried green beans are rich in the B vitamins and potassium.  They may have even more antioxidants than blueberries and as much cholesterol-lowering fiber as oats (another super-food).  They also are an excellent source of lean protein.

Climbing beans originate from the warm / temperate to tropical regions of the Americas.  There are 36 species, some being annual and some perennial.

Most grow on twining climbing plants with bright green tri-foliate leaves.  There are many bush varieties available now that don’t require staking. Flowers can be purple, red, white or yellow, followed by round, long or flat seed pods.

Some plants are grown for the beans inside the pods, and others are eaten pods and all.

Beans will do best with a long, warm to hot growing season. They should be grown in full sun and need ample amounts of water to grow vigorously. Beans will thrive in a light, well-drained soil that is rich in humus (well rotted compost).

Wait until the last frost and the ground has warmed before planting seed in it’s permanent position, sowing from mid-spring to early summer.

Watch for snails and slugs in the early growing period.

Beans are heavy feeders, so make sure to add compost at the time of planting and give additional feeds of organic fertilizer every three to four weeks. They will take between 60 and 90 days to mature – depending on what variety you are growing.

Select the healthiest looking plant and let the beans mature and dry on the vine to save the seed for next spring.

*My own personal tip is to keep picking your beans just a tiny bit before mature. That way you’ll enjoy tender baby beans and your plants will keep producing more beans so you’ll end up with a higher yield. *

Beans are such easy plants to grow. They are a great plant to encourage your kids or grandkids into the garden. They taste great fresh off the vine too.

To make sure you have a long supply of fresh, health promoting beans, plant a succession of plants and varieties to last you well into autumn (fall).

Beans also enrich the soil with nitrogen. They will grow quite happily with companions of cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, squash, strawberries (with Bush Beans), and tomatoes, but should not be grown with any of the onion family or fennel.

Hi, I am an avid organic gardener and am known by my friends as the recycling queen. I live on a small country property in South Australia.
It is my mission to encourage as many people as possible to start organic gardening ( I know you’ll become addicted). This will improve both our individual lives and the wellbeing of our personal and global environments.
Anyone can grow their own healthy food with Organic Gardening. Click here to get started now! Happy Organic Gardening, Healthy Living…
Julie Williams

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Expert Author Julie Williams

When you’re just starting out as a newcomer to organic gardening, it’s great to get some successes on the board as soon as possible. I’ve put this list together of my top 10 easiest veggies to grow to encourage you to give it a go. Once you discover how easy it is to grow your own delicious, healthy veggies, you’ll be scratching your head wondering why you didn’t try it sooner.

So start out with these, then when you’ve had success you can research other veggies, fruits and nuts that you want to try. Always bear in mind the climate zone you live in so that you are working with Mother Nature.


Radishes are probably the easiest vegetable to start out with. They thrive in all climates, all year round in temperate zones. The other great thing about them is that they mature really quickly, from seed to eating in as little as 4 or 5 weeks.

They rarely have any pest or disease problems because they grow so quickly.

If you’ve already enriched the soil with organic compost all you need do is keep the water up to them, especially in hot, dry weather – mulch in summer, but not in winter. If you’ve used plenty of seed you may need to thin them as they get bigger. Pick them as soon as they’re a reasonable size or they become woody.

Silverbeet, Spinach or Swiss Chard

This group of vegetables are related and are also quite easy to grow. Spinach grows best in cooler climates, but silverbeet will grow all year round in temperate zones.

If you’re growing them from seed, soak them overnight. Sow seeds about 30cm (12 inches) apart by placing them on the soil surface and poking with your finger to the depth of about 1cm (half inch). Cover with soil and water in well.

Keep them well watered in hot weather and apply organic fertilizer every month, giving them an occasional feed with an organic liquid fertilizer. Mulching with compost or pea-straw will help conserve water, control weeds and feed your soil.

When the leaves are big enough to use, pick from the outside making sure you leave at least 5 or 6 stalks in the centre for the plant to continue growing.

Capsicum (peppers) and Chillies

These plants are also related to each other and enjoy the same growing conditions. They are a warm climate vegetable and will not set fruit if the overnight temperatures are too low. You can grow both capsicum and chillies in pots.

You may need to stake capsicum for wind protection if you grow them vigorously, as they can reach up to 80cm (30inches).
Sow in seed boxes in spring. When your seedlings have reached 15cm (6inches), transplant them into beds prepared with compost at about 50cm (20inches) apart.

Fertilize with organic pellets every 4 or 5 weeks when they start to flower. Make sure you don’t over do it, or you will end up with very healthy plants with lots of leaves, but very little fruit.

You can harvest capsicum at any time, but if you wait for the fruit to turn red (they all start out green) they have much higher amounts of vitamin C.
Leave chillies on the plant to mature, then they can be harvested and used fresh. If you want to dry some just leave them in a dark, dry, airy place for several weeks. They will store well in glass jars for many years. Remember never to touch your eyes after handling chillies as it is very painful. Wash your hands thoroughly.

Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes will grow in most soils and all but the coldest climates. And cherry tomatoes are the easiest to grow, so they suit new gardeners perfectly. They will even grow well as tub specimens. It’s not essential to stake them, provided you don’t mind them sprawling around the place a bit.

They are frost tender, so you can start them indoors if your area has late frosts. When your seedlings get to 15 – 20cm (6-8inches), transplant them into their permanent position, whether it be tub or ground. If you are going to stake them, get your stakes in first so you don’t damage their young root system. Tomatoes (unlike most plants) actually benefit from being planted deeper than they were in the seedling box. You can even bury the bottom leaves. This actually benefits the plant as they grow roots right up to the soil surface, giving it more stability and accessibility to water and nutrients.
If growing them in the ground, give them at least 50cm (20inches) spacing.
Deep water you plants regularly and give a thick layer of mulch.

Providing you’re planting your tomatoes in a compost-rich soil, you will only need to liquid fertilize when fruiting starts. Use a good organic liquid manure such as Seasol or Maxicrop and use as a foliar spray.

Pick your tomatoes as they ripen, to encourage more fruit.


You will find zucchini one of the easiest vegetables to grow, with amazing yields. They just keep giving! Zucchini are part of the cucumber / melon / pumpkin family and enjoy a warm growing season.

Sow 2 or 3 seeds directly into a mound of richly composted soil in late spring, or after frosts are over. You can train zucchini to grow up a trellis or fence, which can help prevent powdery mildew. When the seedlings are about 10cm (4inches) tall, gently pull out all but the strongest plant.

You’ll need about 3 or 4 mounds (plants) to feed a family of 4 – 6. Give them plenty of water and add organic fertilizer every 4 weeks or so. When the zucchini reach between 15 and 20 cm (6-8inches) it’s time to pick them. They can grow really quickly – literally overnight – so keep a vigilant eye on them otherwise you’ll end up with inedible veggies. You also want to pick them as they’re ready to keep the yields high.

Butternut Pumpkins

Pumpkins are known for being easy to grow. Belonging to the same family as zucchini, they grow in similar conditions. Again plant seeds in mounds and keep the strongest seedling. Have your mounds about a metre (yard) apart.

Mulch around the mound and keep the water up to them in really hot and dry weather. Feed every 3 weeks with well rotten manure or mature compost.

Here’s where the difference comes in. You need to leave pumpkins on the vine to fully mature. Wait until the vines have died off before harvesting (somewhere between 14 & 20 weeks). Before any chance of frost, harvest by cutting the stems at least 5cm (2inches) from the pumpkin.

Store in a dry place until needed.

Leeks and Spring Onions

Spring onions and leeks are in the Allium family and grow in very similar conditions. You can grow in seed raising mix or seed directly where they are to grow. If you grow seeds in punnets you can transplant seedlings when they are about 20cm (8inches) tall into well prepared beds (they like a little lime if your soil is acidic), about 20cm apart.

Some people like to “blanch” the stems of leeks to keep them white, but I don’t bother. All you really need to do for leeks and spring onions is give them plenty of water, mulch to keep the weeds down and the soil moist and apply organic fertilizer every few weeks.

Harvest when leeks are about 2cm (an inch) thick, and spring onions as they become big enough.

Bush or Dwarf Beans

There are many different varieties of beans to choose from. When you’re starting out, go for the bush or dwarf varieties. Grow these beans in warm weather as beans don’t like the cold (unless you’re growing broad beans – different story).

Fertilize along the row where your beans are to grow. Don’t let your bean seeds come into direct contact with your organic fertilizer. Sow your beans directly where they are to grow, into damp soil and avoid watering near them for the first few days. (Don’t soak seeds before planting).

Space rows at 60cm (24inches) and push seeds about 2cm (an inch) into the soil, 10cm (4inches) apart. A row about 3 or 4 metres (yards) long should be enough for a family of 5.

To get a continuous supply of beans, start your next sowing when the first crop has grown their first true leaves. Feed with a liquid organic fertilizer when flowering starts. Remember to harvest your beans while they’re young and tender. They taste better this way, but more importantly, they will give you much better yields.

If you want to save your own seeds, leave the healthiest pods on the bush until they have completely dried. Then pick and pod them, storing in a dry place until next season. Remember to label them.


Peas will yield heavily if you give them what they need. And they are so delicious! Most varieties love the same conditions. Plant in late summer through to late winter, providing your soil is still workable. Peas like a higher pH than most vegetables, so add some lime into the soil along with mature compost or organic fertilizer.

Provide support by giving them something to climb up. Plant seeds every 5cm (2inches) in a well-drained soil with a sunny position and provide support with small sticks or similar until they reach what you want to grow them on.

Keep down any weeds with good organic mulch. Feed with an organic liquid fertilizer every 3 or 4 weeks. Keep moist in dry weather. Pick regularly to increase yields. Save seed the same as you would beans.


I love growing beetroot. It’s so easy to grow – but let me say this up front; it’s quite different from the tinned supermarket kind.

Plant throughout spring and summer. Add lime to your soil a couple of weeks before planting if your soil is a bit acid. Take your seeds and soak them overnight. Sow directly in the soil, about 1cm (half inch) deep and 30cm (12inches) apart. Cover lightly with soil and water them in. If you want a continuous supply, plant your next crop every 2 – 3 weeks.

At about 4 or 5 weeks, give them a feed with organic liquid fertilizer. You pull your beets when they have grown to about 6 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches) in diameter, roughly 8 to 10 weeks after planting. Don’t leave them to grow huge as they just become tough and woody.

The young leaves are great in a salad. I love to roast or boil them. They make great juice when added to apple and carrot. I’ve also pickled them and turned them into soup – very unusual, but delicious.

So there you have it – the 10 easiest veggies to grow. If you’re short on garden space you can try growing some of these in pots. You just need to remember to make sure you water when needed.

I wish you every success in getting started gardening organically. If you already garden, have a go at getting your kids (or grandkids) to try growing these veggies themselves. You’ll be surprised at how much more eager they are to eat something they’ve grown themselves.

Hi, I am an avid organic gardener and am known by my friends as the recycling queen. I live on a small country property in South Australia.
It is my mission to encourage as many people as possible to start organic gardening ( I know you’ll become addicted). This will improve both our individual lives and the wellbeing of our personal and global environments.
Anyone can grow their own healthy food with Organic Gardening. Click here to get started now! Happy Organic Gardening, Healthy Living…
Julie Williams

Article Source:

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Spring is the start of a new growing season. Time to get your garden ready for planting and finish what you couldn’t get done before winter set in.

Soil is the key to having a successful organic garden. The first and most important part in preparing your garden for a new growing season is to know what you are working with. Testing your soil is very important and even more important if your crops the year before didn’t do as well as you would of liked them too.

Once your soil has been tested and you know what you need for soil amendments you can start working the soil in your garden to get ready for planting. Turning your soil over by tilling, plowing or by hand with a spade aerates the soil by exposing new soil to the air, which will activate microbes that are in the soil and other organic matter to help make fertile soil. You want to make sure that your soil is dry enough before you start working with it. If you take a hand full of soil and squeeze it and it stays in the form of a solid ball the soil is to wet. Working wet soil will destroy the texture of the soil. The soil will just be full of clods when it dries and the restoration of the soil can take a lot of work and time that you don’t need to lose out of the growing season. If the area that you plant your garden is usually wet in the spring and dry in the fall you should consider a fall preparation of your garden. This way in the spring there will only be a minimal amount of hand work needed to prepare and start planting.

Now that the soil in your garden has been turned over it’s time to add a layer of compost to feed the soil. A good healthy soil structure is one that will retain moisture, drain well and a lot of nutrient rich humus to feed your plants. Feeding the soil is different that feeding your plants. When you feed the soil the nutrients are there for the plants to feed from as they need too. When fertilizing you are applying nutrients to the soil and the plants will only take what they need when they need it and the rest gets diluted or evaporated away. Having a good nutrient rich soil is the best way to supply the plants in your garden the nutrition they need.

Now that you have your garden prepared and a good healthy nutrient rich soil it is time to start planting. Don’t be afraid to add compost to the hole you dig for your new plants. The plants will love you for it.

A environment friendly and healthy way of gardening. Organic Gardening is away of gardening in harmony with nature. Growing a healthy and productive crop in a way that is healthier for both you and the environment.

John Yazo


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Something gardeners know is that they will face bugs!  Of course, the initial reaction is to run out and buy various commercial insecticides.  The trouble with using conventional chemical pesticides is that it undermines the benefits of raising home grown vegetables.

1.  A healthier solution would be the reduction and prevention of such a bug invasion to start with.  Companion plantings are an age old, yet effective, approach to pest control and help with better vegetables, as well.

2.  There are organic and natural sprays that you can use, as well as homemade solutions, ranging from a simple mixture of dishwashing soap and water to a natural, organic approach that is gaining in popularity, Neem oil.

3.  Or, you could fight bugs with bugs!  Two bug fighters that an organic gardener can easily introduce to their organic vegetable garden are lady bugs and praying mantis.  The simplest way is to just buy and release them directly into your garden.  You could do a little research and find plants and flowers you can plant to attract and keep them in your vegetable garden area.

An example of a companion planting is growing tomatoes along side carrots.  Carrot flowers can attract insects that feed on other insects that would otherwise go after your tomatoes. But, for the beneficial insect-attracting properties of carrots to work, they have to be allowed to flower.

Sage, rosemary, and radishes are recommended by some people as companion plants, yet listed by other people as incompatible.  Alliums inter-planted with carrots confuse onion and carrot flies.  Rosemary repels cabbage worms, geraniums trap cabbage worms and are recommended general companion for all brassica (cabbage, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc).  Marigolds will deter beetles and nematodes. Mints (such as hyssop, sage, and various “balms”) repel slugs, the nemosis of lettuce and cabbages.

An organic treatment that has recently started gaining popularity is Neem oil.  Neem oil has been used in India as a pesticide, miticide, and also fungalcide for millennia.  What is interesting is that it has also been used for its medicinal qualities as well!

Neem oil does not work the same way as commercial pesticides and does not kill garden bugs as quickly. Insects absorb the neem oil compounds just like natural hormones.  Neem enters their system and blocks the real hormones from functioning properly.

Bugs “forget” to eat, to mate, or they stop laying eggs. Some even forget that they can fly.  If eggs are produced they will not hatch or the larvae don’t moult.  Needless to say insects that are too confused to eat or breed will not survive.  The population eventually plummets and they vanish. The entire life-cycle is broken.

The neat thing is, Neem oil does not hurt beneficial insects.  Only chewing and sucking bugs will be affected.  It really is fascinating.

However, this is not something that happens right away.  People spray Neem oil as an insecticide and anticipate immediate results, since that is what they are used to from chemical poisons.  When that does not happen many people conclude Neem insecticide does not work!

It will deliver the results…but, you have to give it time to work.  It’s a much smarter way to deal with insect pests than to simply kill everything and then having to worry about the long term effects any residue may have on you and your family.

Bag Gardening…As Simple As It Gets!

Here’s a simple alternative for those people who have poor enough soil conditions that a raised-bed garden would make a good solution.  By bag gardening, you can get the benefits of raised-bed gardening with a minimum of work.  Click on the link below to view a short video showing just how easy it can be.

As you can see, there is very little effort involved and even the frame is optional.  Personally, I think the frame should be used in order to hold everything together.  An important point that you may have missed from the video is to punch holes through the bottom of the bag for drainage…that’s what the pitch fork was used for.

He also utilized some of the techniques of square-foot gardening by partitioning the soil with the string. Each square partitioned is used to keep your plants organized. You might put one or multiple plantings in each, depending on the space requirements of the vegetable planted. For example, it may hold just one tomato plant or lettuce, but several carrots or radish.

Price accurate as of 11/19/2012.

An added benefit of bag gardening is that you don’t have to worry about what might be in your current garden soil.  You are simply using bagged organic potting soil to which you could add your own compost, or purchase organic compost from your garden center at the same time.  Another name you could give this is the Lazy Man’s Garden, as there is no digging or soil preparation before you can start planting.

Bag Gardening Melons

This is just another example of how to maximize your garden efforts and an yet another alternative to hay-bale gardening. Obviously, you need to have room for the melon vines to roam, but you can see just how fast and easy it was and the melons are well fed by being planted directly into mulch. Just make sure you get a bag of organic mulch if you want to practice organic gardening.

Organic Food Fraud

I recently came across this article and thought I would share it with my readers…yes, I have permission to do so.

There’s always somebody looking to make an easy buck.  Scams of all kinds are simple because honest people believe that other people are honest.  Not all of them are.  Let’s face it — we are truly at the mercy of the governmental agencies that regulate our food supply, including our organic food supply.

An orange is an orange.  You can’t look at two oranges and determine which one was produced using organic means and which was raised using traditional farming methods.  There is simply no way to tell by looking.  And yet, when the two oranges are displayed side by side if one is said to be organic, we will pay more for that orange.  The question is, however, is it REALLY organic?

We expect that when the organic label is on food products that we purchase, it means that the food was produced without the use of chemical fertilizers or toxic pesticides (among other things).

There have been testing procedures available for years to test for pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables.  There are regulations regarding legal levels of pesticide residue even on foods that are not called “organic.”  Not every apple or every leaf of spinach is tested, of course, but there are quality control measures in place that give us a certain level of confidence that chemical pesticide was not used on fruits and vegetables that are labeled organic.

However, there has not been a similar test to determine if chemical fertilizers were used in the production of food that is labeled organic — until now. Science, it seems, always eventually catches up with advertising.  Now there is technology available to test fruits and vegetables to determine whether chemical fertilizers were used.  There isn’t widespread use of the technology yet, but there will be. This is one more step in the right direction!

When I read this article, I was reminded just how often we hear about fraud, in one form or another, which just gives another reason why growing your own organic fruits and vegetables is such a good idea.

Worm Castings or Vermicasts

Using worm castings, or more correctly vermicompost, as organic fertilizer adds more nutrients for your plants and in a plant available form.  Worm castings or vermicasts are just one component of what makes up vermicompost.

Here is how Wikipedia explains it:

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting utilizing various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast, similarly known as worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by a species of earthworm.[1] These castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than do organic materials before vermicomposting. [2]

Here are some of the benefits of using vermicompost in your organic garden, per Wikipedia:

  • Improves its physical structure
  • Enriches soil with micro-organisms (adding enzymes such as phosphatase and cellulase)
  • Microbial activity in worm castings is 10 to 20 times higher than in the soil and organic matter that the worm ingests [27]
  • Attracts deep-burrowing earthworms already present in the soil
  • Improves water holding capacity[28]

It takes about 20 pounds to treat a 12′ x 20′ garden area.  Its fairly inexpensive, running between $1-$1.50/lb.

Prices accurate as of 5/9/2013

Make Your Own

For a standard size composting bin you will need two pounds of worms for every one pound of raw material you add.  The earthworms you will need (known as red wrigglers) do not go very deep underground so your pile or bin should be between 8-10 inches deep.

You may be tempted to go to your backyard and start digging up some worms, but you really should invest in the proper kind.  The worms in your backyard are not the recommended breed for composting.  You will need to buy worms that bear the name of red wriggler (also known as redworms) or brandling worms.  But, you should also be aware of their tolerance temperature range.

Redworms or brandling worms can be purchased from a bait shop, some local gardening centers or by mail order.  An average worm can eat its own weight in material in 24 hours; keep this in mind when you are determining the size of your compost bin and the amount of worms you will need.

With the rate at which the worms consume the food waste, the timeline of getting from raw organic material to mature compost is relatively short.  The same principle applies as for regular composting – you need a good mix of green food and brown food (this can be in the form of shredded newspaper).  The finished compost is known as worm castings, worm humus, worm manure, and worm compost.

You should also be aware of the temperature range that various types of worms can survive.  Nothing smells worse than a worm compost bin filled with dead worms!  So, take some time to find what type of worm would work best for your location.  This post is not intended to give you all the information needed to make your own worm compost bin, but rather to let you know what’s involved.  If you’re interested, here are some resources for you.

You can also purchase and download the Kindle version of The Complete Guide to Working with Worms: Using the Gardener’s Best Friend for Organic Gardening and Composting (Back to Basics) for $11.99.

Prices accurate as of 5/9/2013.

Misconceptions About Composting

Composting can benefit your garden and the planet (when done on a large scale) in many ways.  A lot of people may shy away from composting because of common myths and untruths.  Listed below are some of the most common misconceptions about composting followed by the real information.

  •  Composting is creating new dirt.  Actually composting is not dirt, soil, or earth but it is humus – decayed matter that provides nutrients to soil.
  •  It takes a lot of time and effort to compost.  Once you have your compost bin set-up all you will only have to add new materials and turn or rotate the piles once in a two day period.
  • Having a compost is too smelly.  If your compost bin has a bad odor, something is wrong.  You need to ensure there is enough air circulation and the right combination of green and brown foods.
  • If I have a compost in my back yard, animals are going to come and dig through it.  If you have a cover for your compost bin and ensure a good layer of brown food (at least one inch) is on the top you will not have any animal control problems.
  • If I don’t measure the exact ratio of green to brown food it will not work.  Composting is not an exact science if you add more green food one week and then balance it out with additional brown food the next week – that is fine.  You will be able to tell with time what your compost pile is lacking or needing.

Composting is easy, environmentally-friendly, and an inexpensive way to fertilize your lawn, garden, or house plants.  With some time, patience, and a bit of effort, your mature compost will be ready to use anywhere from one month to one year (hot versus cold composting).  There are more benefits than drawbacks when you reconsider many of these common misconceptions about composting.

Hot Composting

Hot (or active) composting uses microbes to breakdown the matter. Some experts recommend you inoculate the compost with live organisms in order to speed up the process. While others will recommend adding in healthy top soil as it also contains live organisms that will convert your organic matter into compost material.

Either way, once the process is started your compost pile will generate heat. You should tend or check on your pile every second day to ensure good air circulation is maintained and that the right level of moisture is kept.

Here is a list of the most commonly used hot compost items from the kitchen:

* Vegetable peels and seeds
* Fruit peels, cores, and seeds
* Coffee grounds – you can compost the paper filter too
* Tea bags or loose tea leaves
* Crushed egg shells – do not add left-over eggs cooked or raw
* Breads

You may be tempted to add other food scraps into the bin, but don’t.  You should not add any animal meat or bones, oily products, or fish remains.  Not only will they attract unwanted pests but they will make your compost smell bad.

It is a good idea to have a container with an airtight lid to store the food waste in your kitchen. You don’t want to attract insects or pests inside your home nor do you want to be running to your compost bin every time you make a meal or snack. If your kitchen container is airtight you will also cut down on unpleasant odors.

Non-Edible Composting Items

In addition to the acceptable food scraps you can use to hot compost, there are many different organic items you can add too. Some of the items on the list may surprise you while others will be ones you have heard of before. Just remember, by composting these items you are reducing the amount of waste that your home produces.

  •  Lint collected from your dryer (only from natural fibers, such as cotton – avoid man-made materials as they will not breakdown in your compost pile,)
  •  Cardboard, cut into strips or small pieces
  •  Hair, make sure that is isn’t put in as one large clump
  •  Manure (from a horse, pig, or cow, preferably aged)
  •  Tree leaves, cutting or chipping them helps them break down faster
  •  Newspaper (considered brown food), cut into strips. Do not use the glossy pages and do not add too much (it can dry out the pile)
  •  Pine needles and pine cones
  •  Sawdust and wood chips (or shavings) as long as it is from untreated wood
  •  Straw – even better if it is used straw from horse bedding
  •  Grass clippings (green food), IF your lawn has not been treated with commercial fertilizers, weed or bug killers
  •  Seaweed or algae (you can get these from your home aquarium)

Larger items should be broken down as much as possible to speed up their decomposition.  Here are some additional tips to help you with your composting efforts.

*Most of these items can also be used in the cold composting method.  The main exception being manure.

Cold Composting

If you do not have the desire or time to maintain a regular compost bin, starting a cold compost (or slow compost) may suit you better.  In a cold compost, you are only using your yard waste and grass clippings instead of a combination of outdoor material with your kitchen scraps.  All that is required of you is to pile your leaves and grass clippings into a pile and wait.  The process is slow and long – it will not yield usable compost for up to one year.  Be careful not to put in any weeds or other undesirable plants, as there is no heat they will survive the composting process and can grow again when you use the finished material.

If you generate quite a bit of yard waste and it is too much to include in your regular compost bin consider using both hot and cold composting methods.  You can have the best of both composting methods.

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