Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening is booming today, with a plethora of Local Council-sponsored Community Gardens springing up all around the country, back yards dedicating patches to growing veggies, home and high-rise balconies displaying an array of potted colour and herb. What is happening? People are heading back to the old days in droves to the time when the tastiest and healthiest vegetables were the ones you grew yourself. None of those Supermarket water tomatoes for these people (although the Supermarkets are trying) just that incredible taste and aroma of a lush firm fresh-picked tomato - yummm.
And then there are the Zen moments in our otherwise hectic and stress-filled lives - when we focus exclusively on studying emerging shoots, new leaves, flower buds, fruit - spellbound as we marvel at Nature's work. There is something too in getting your hands dirty, soil under the fingernails, just as the ancients did thousands of years ago.

The ideal way to grow a crop that you and your family intend to eat is to grow it organically. In the purist sense this means growing in organic soil, using organic seeds, fertilising with organic fertiliser and watering with rain/aquifer/river water. No chemicals or pesticides in any part of the process, obviously. Who wants to eat chemicals or ingest herbicides, or for that matter animal excrement?

Farmers growing certified organic vegetables must adhere to the purist path or they will lose their organic certification. (Many years ago we set out to grow organic cherries on our farm but had to give up - the weeds beat us. We wanted to hand weed instead of spraying but by the time we reached weeding the end of the rows the ones at the beginning we were covered in weeds again). Chemical-free can be a tough assignment and that is among the reasons for organic food often being expensive. QED - grow your own.

To grow crops as a purist may be an unreasonable target, however, it is worth shooting for in a domestic garden/balcony plant setting, as is practically realistic, especially in terms of the fertiliser used. It must be certified organic.

Soil and Potting Mix
For your veggie garden, select a sunny, protected area in your yard that has not been affected by chemicals. Ideally, your garden will have a soil depth of 50-90cms (the depth from soil surface to any layer that would stop plant root growth); however, you may need to bring in some soil. Scatter a couple of large handfuls of Power Pellets over each square metre of the soil surface then dig them in. After two weeks you will be ready to plant into a magnificent soil base.
For growing in pots, buy a potting mix that contains no chemicals and mix in some Power Pellets. Even better, consider making your own soil - veggie scraps into a garbage bin, add a few handfuls of Power Pellets as you fill it, keep the lid on then wait. You will have a rich organic soil that will do a far better job.
You can buy seeds that are certified organic, that is to say they have been harvested from certified organic plants. Eden Seeds is one such supplier.

Growing Seedlings
You can buy chemical-free seedling mix, or coir, or use your own soil if suitable.
Fill old egg cartons to the top with soil then water. Place seeds on top of soil or fractionally below surface, fertilise with a Power Pellets liquid brew. (Two desert-spoons of Power Pellets to one Litre hot water. Allow to cool then pour through sieve onto seedlings).

Transplanting to Garden or Pots

When seedlings appear strong enough (say around 5-10cms tall) tease them out of egg carton being sure not to damage roots (push from the bottom if they are stubborn). Make a hole in moistened garden or potting mix soil large enough to comfortably accommodate seedling, carefully insert seedling then gently pack soil/potting mix around it. Fertilise by sprinkling Power Pellets around each plant, avoiding stem, say 20- 40grams per plant - small to average handful depending on size - then water. Keep pellets and soil moist.
Tending to Plants
Number one rule: Water. Water is the most important need of any plant. Without water, plants can not survive. Number two rule: Fertiliser. Without fertiliser, plants can not thrive. Keep soil and pellets moist.
Your Power Pellets application should provide your plants with all their nutrient needs for 6 weeks.
There is nothing better than walking out into your garden or onto your balcony and picking your crops - immensely satisfying - especially knowing that you have fed your crops with the best organic fertiliser, Power Pellets. 

Happy growing and healthy eating!

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