We strive every year to have a big vegetable garden. The eventual goal is for it to be EPIC and full of healthy, organic fuel for our body.
Some years are better than others, there is always a learning curve. Every year we learn new tricks, usually through failures, but we are getting there bit by bit.
There are few things that are non-negotiable in our garden:
Love. It’s so simple really, and a little fluffy I know, but we all need love. And so, I talk to my plants. I treat them tenderly. I know them. Sometimes I name them. I watch to see how they are feeling, if they need anything. I treat them like part of the family, deserving of my love and attention
Natural Pest Deterrents. We don’t use synthetic pesticides in our gardens, be they decorative or edible. We just don’t find a need, when there are so many natural options out there. Check out this post for more on the subject, cause I could chat on this topic forever.
Natural Herbicides. Again, we don’t use synthetic chemicals to treat those errant “weeds”. Truthfully, if we didn’t have a strict HOA, I would just let the weeds do their thing outside of the vegetable garden, where I weed by hand. But alas, that’s not an option right now. Instead, we use vinegar. Pour on a little and, next thing you know those weeds are shriveled up. You can also use a flame weeder, but we haven’t personally ventured down that path yet.
Honor native pollinators and beneficial insects. Not all insects are bad. In fact, we as a species need them on many levels, and we cash in on that in our garden. We have a solitary bee and insect house, water source for bees and butterflies, have planted many native plants and pollinator attractors, and we release beneficial insects like lady bugs and praying mantis’. It’s all about letting mother nature do her thing to help us.
Plant the right plants. We live in North Carolina, so we only plant what will grow here well, based on the season. For example, we grow lots of leafy greens, but they are mainly spring and fall crops for us. I work with nature, not against her.
Build healthy soil.. This here is the big one. The soil is the real key. Ok fine, pest management is important as well, but the soil comes first. We use very little chemical fertilizer, only for some of our more finicky potted plants like orchids, and it is always organic. For our actual food gardens, we use compost. Lots of compost. Sometimes I will blend up coffee grinds, banana peels, and egg shells from the kitchen to add. But really, a good dose of nutrient rich compost will do wonders for any garden…working to feed not just the plants, but the entire soil ecosystem. Compost = magic
Some people say that organic gardening is less productive or more expensive, but with the yield we see every year I 100% disagree. Sure, it would probably be easier to just spray the garden with fertilizers and pesticides and wait for the veggies to grow. The thing is, for us gardening is about more than just the end result of food.
Gardening is about sustenance, sure. But it is also about connections: to the food on our plate, to the environment outside of our home, to the earth that we inhabit, and to those we inhabit it with. Taking time to be in the garden; watching and learning from it, can be an incredibly fulfilling task if you allow it to be.
Gardening doesn’t have to be a chore.
For us, gardening is a constant learning process, full of wonder and exploration. And always, it is humbling to see the power that can be found in working with mother nature, rather than against her.
She really does know what is best.