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How To Grow Your Favorite Organic Produce in Limited Space

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Spring has officially sprung, although it may not feel that way here in New England! In honor of the season symbolizing renewal, new beginnings & ideas blossoming, we wanted to share this guest post from Go Green, discussing the ins & outs on growing your own organic produce. Enjoy!

There is nothing as delicious as biting into a juicy strawberry, handpicked form your own garden. You get that nice berry and sweet bite invigorating all of your senses. This is just one of many pleasures you can revel in when you grow your own organic food. We've all gotten past the time when we don't give much thought about the food we buy in grocery stores. Most of us now smartly read labels and reviews. We understand that what we put in our body affects every aspect of our lives.

There was also a time when there was no such need for the term "organic" before pesticides came along. With our ancestors, everything they ate was "organic." Yet, when you go to the grocery stores, you might notice organic foods cost a bit more than non-organic foods. Nonetheless, how much would it cost to manage your healthcare due to a bad diet. Still, you don't have to purchase everything at the grocery store. You can grow your own organic garden even in a limited space.

Why grow organic food

Once you've tasted organic produce, you will never go back. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables sold in stores are adapted for commercial farming. Their strains are developed to produce more per plant. They have a longer shelf life and are less prone to bruising. But, the taste and texture of grocery store fruits and vegetables just cannot compare to picking something up for your own garden.

For the same reasons noted above, the variety can be limited at grocery stores. Within your own garden, you can choose from hundreds of varieties based on shape, flavor and color. Plus, you control the environment. You don't need pesticides and chemicals in your garden. If you do have an issue with disease or pests, there is often an organic solution. The worst-case scenario is simply pulling the plants. In grocery stores, non-organic produce often with the highest loads of pesticides include:

  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Peppers

Well, those are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in your backyard without the need for pesticides.

In addition, you eat better when you grow your own organic food. You learn to eat in season when flavors and nutrients are at their peak. Since your fruits and vegetables are harvested fresh, they need little in the way of seasonings. Fruits and vegetables which ripen naturally and consumed within days of harvest have more nutrients than the grocery store variety.

Many vegetables in grocery stores are picked early and stay in storage until you purchase them. Their nutritional value declines over time. And, if you're tired of walking on that boring treadmill--digging, planting and weeding provide a useful form of low-impact exercise. You don't even realize you're working your body because you'll be so excited to see the fruits of your labor. In fact, 45 minutes of gardening burns the same amount of calories as running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes. As a result, gardening helps to relieve stress, release tension and improve energy.

What type of soil should you use?

You want good produce, which means you should use healthy soil. Before you plant anything, you need to purchase potting mix. If you can, it is even better to create your own compost. There are methods of creating compost which supports your chosen crops. There are many articles and books on the topic of composting for organic gardening.

You can also set up a worm farm to help restore soil health. Worms can break down toxins such as cadmium, lead and other heavy metals. They essentially optimize the bacterial content of the soil. Worms can even break down cardboard waste fibers. This means you won't need synthetic fertilizers.

Start small

You only need 25 square feet. Find a spot which has sun all year round. You can use every square foot of your space including your balcony or even hanging baskets. In fact, hanging baskets can be used for runner beans, tomatoes, herbs, leafy greens, pea shoots and strawberries. If you opt for window boxes, they can hold greens, radishes, strawberries, chard, chiles, scallions and herbs. With pots, it is best to use large and lightweight containers.

The smaller the pot, the faster it will dry out. If you do have a small garden plot, remove all debris from the area and spread compost over the area. Use a shovel to mix the top 3 inches of soil and organic material. Then, keep the soil damp like a wrung out sponge--but, never soggy. In addition, never walk on your soil. Get your vegetables from 4" square pots. Dig a hole a bit larger than a rootball, and squeeze the sides of the plant to remove it. Moisten what you have cut out, and plant it in your soil. Then, mulch around it with leaves and straw. Water it with a slow drip.

Growing organic food indoors

1. You want to pick a space, as stated above, with adequate sunlight. If you have a grow then, then get the types of lights that emulate lighting from the sun. Then, place the light as close to the plants as possible.

2. Buy a temperature controller. Vegetables need to be grown in a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees for about 14 hours per day. Wherever you decided to plant your organic garden, make sure the temperature is correct.

3. Have a humidifier to keep the right amount of humidity in your plants. Your plants will be weak without the proper amount of humidity.

4. Make sure they are hydrated. Indoor plants have a tendency to dry out faster due to limited levels of humidity and nutrients. You must ensure your plants have the proper water levels and growing within the right temperatures.

Harvest time

During peak harvest time, you want to check your garden every day. You want to pick sporadically from the entire crop, just a little from each plant. Moreover, it's best to cut produce with a sharp knife or scissors. Ripping a plant out with your fingers can cause damage to the root. If you have too much, remember you can always freeze them or can.

Growing your own organic garden has many benefits from superior flavor and nutrients to providing some low-impact exercise. Plus, you'll save money on your grocery shopping budget. Once you start, you won't look back.

This guest post was written by GoGreen.org. For more tips on green living, visit their site!