Organic Gardening… Spotlight on Readers!

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Wow.  I’ve gotten some pics from readers lately that have me laughing at my own garden attempts.  You all are awesome!

I just have to share a few of my very favorite reader pics with you here.  If anyone wants to email me their garden pics, I’d love to see them!

As you’ll see from some of my own pics further down, my garden is growing well but my tomato seedlings are not all I thought they would be at this point.

If anyone wants to shoot me a “my garden ain’t doing so hot either” picture to cheer me up, I sure would love it.  heartsong@primary-plus.com

 

 

 

Okay, here is a clever idea that Diane shared with me.

She saw a similar design at Baker’s Garden Center in Summerville, SC and came home and created her own version.  Wow, it knocks my socks off!  Looks so hard, doesn’t it?  But she said all you do is thread some different sized pots onto a pole — just thread them through the bottom drainage hole in the pot, and it will support itself by leaning the side of the pot on the pole.

Here, Diane has planted an herb garden… awesome idea for those that 1) like vertical gardening, 2) have small spaces, 3) want something funky and cool and unique in their yard 4) don’t want to bend over to grab some basil for the spaghetti sauce!  Love it!

 

Gabrielle sent me this amazing pic of her garden… awesome!  She created an amazing garden “table” that was raised so that she would have less weeds and less root-eating pests to worry about.

What I love about her gardening style is that she incorporates bio-dynamic principles into her garden… adding soil amendments that were perfect for her plants and planting in a raised table to detour critters… very clever!

She also planted flowers to repel caterpillars and put a net over the garden table to keep out other insects like crickets… love that Gabrielle!  She has beets, fennel, onions, melons, cilantro, lettuce and tomatoes all growing strong in this garden table!

 

Elaina sent these awesome pics of her garden:

Elaina’s bell pepper plants…

 

and strawberries…

 

and gorgeous tomato plants that knock my socks off!  From seeds, folks!  From seeds!

 

I was so impressed with Elaina’s pics that I asked her to give me some of her best tips for organic gardening to share with you all on the blog today.  She won the 5 bottle garland from my last giveaway, and as a very generous gesture, she gifted me one of her tomato seedlings that she planted from the Baker Creek Seed Catalog that I recommended at the start of the planting season.

I was thinking it would be a tiny little seedling like how *my* seedlings are doing.  I’ve had my seedlings planted and growing on my front porch the entire time… keeping them covered in their little recycled greenhouses over night on the cooler nights.

I knew they were taking their sweet time to come up, but I did not expect anything like the amazing contrast that Elaina’s seedling (planted at the exact same time but grown indoors) would have:

My tomato seedlings… just forming their first true leaves… barely.

 

Elaina’s tomato seedling… planted at the same time, but grown indoors in warmth.  Um… what?!?!   Holy Moly!

 

Oh.  My.   I was speechless at the difference.  Now, I still have faith in my little tomato babies, and I know that the time will come when I have more tomatoes then I possibly can stand to can.  Yet.  Elaina… your gardening expertise is amazing.  I am very impressed and humbled by the differences in our seedlings.

I think it’s great to showcase all different ways to garden… my way being decidedly less precise or educated.  My way is very *whatever is easiest feels right to me!* and yet… with all the gardening websites and blogs out there, maybe it is good for some folks to see that if you just throw some seeds into soil and stand back and let nature do it’s thing, you can still get some great results.

My way is completely non-intimidating… it proves that anyone can do it.  For example… when I first found out that our climate was perfect for winter gardening, I started reading a winter gardening book… quickly got discouraged… then took all the left over seeds from my summer planting, and mixed them in a bowl (all types of lettuce, spinach, and carrots this first time around.)   I took this one bowl, with all kinds of old seeds mixed together, and literally just chucked it all over my old pulled out summer bed.  Didn’t do anything to the soil… no compost, no mulch… didn’t cover the seeds, didn’t even touch them except to take them in one giant handful and toss them up in the air and let them fall where they may.

Between the natural fall rains and the slow patience of nature, I’ll be damned if lettuce and carrots didn’t grow!   It was so fun to watch!  I couldn’t believe it.  We had enough lettuce for lots of winter salads and some teeny tiny carrots for the guinea pigs to nibble in the middle of winter (and I think I was able to make one carrot cake by the end of winter too.)

My point was, if it didn’t work, no big loss, as I had never had a winter garden anyway.  But if it worked… and oh yes, it did… I was now turned on to winter gardening and the ease and fun of it all.

So there are lots of ways to do things with gardening and I just make this point so that if you are like me, and a bit intimidated at Elaina and my other blog readers AMAZING garden results, don’t be.   If you want the “you can’t fail, this will be fun!” way, you’ll get plenty of that on my blog.

But… for those of you who want to see what you can accomplish with a touch more dedication and a ton more information and patience… I turn to Elaina.  Her garden had me drooling on my computer keyboard.  Literally.

Here are some amazing tips that Elaina shared with me about Organic Gardening:

 

Keep in mind these four most important rules when it comes to planting anything.

Rule #1: Every plant needs appropriate sources of light for the most important process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy. If you start your plant inside, you can use a simple fluorescence bulb to support your plant’s growth. If you plant from seed, make sure you don’t leave them in the afternoon heat too long, it can cause them to burn and it will take a long time for them to recover from the heat shock. However, light is not the only element which will help the plant nurture itself, which brings us to Rule #2.

Rule# 2:  Provide your plants with appropriate amounts of water. The water requirement goes hand in hand with the light requirement in order for the plant to nurture itself successfully. Most causes for seedling or plants to die or not produce, is due to overwatering. So make sure you always test your soil before you decide to water it. General rule of thumb is water every 2-3 days, depending on the temperature.

Rule #3:  Make sure you provide your plants with the temperature the plant likes best. This often requires a little bit of research before you start planting.

Rule #4: And last but not least, make sure you give your plant enough space to develop. Planting your plants to close together can hinder them throughout their development and can either cause the plant to die because it’s competing with other plants for light and water or leave it underdeveloped leading to none-production of flowers or fruits and vegetables.


Having said that, don’t over-pamper your plants and just give them time, light and water to develop on their own. The less you interfere the easier nature can just do its thing and unfold itself in its indescribable beauty.

Okay, from this I would say that not only are my tomato seedlings growing slowly because of the colder temps, but I probably over water them.  Thank you so so so much Elaina for teaching me some of the finer points of planting seeds, and for sharing them here with my readers!

She sent even more great advice, but I think she rocks this whole organic gardening thing so much she should start her own blog… don’t you guys?  Elaina, I’d love to feature you again here if you want to give your blog a shout out… and of course I’d love to share more of your tips here any time.

So, how is everyone else’s garden coming?  Are you harvesting anything yet?  We are drinking peppermint tea (hot and iced) from our garden and eating so much lettuce I am already sick of salad and it’s only April.  Gonna be a long summer!  Can’t wait until I can throw some cukes and tomatoes onto my salad as well, carrots too.  I have a feeling I’m going to be eating Elaina’s tomatoes long before my own.  xoxo

 

My nectarine trees are producing fruit for the first time this year!

 

Blueberries are almost there!  We can’t wait for these!

 

My cucumber plants…

 

and lettuce galore!