I have been a practicing chiropractic physician for more than 30 years and I have been an organic gardener for more than 50 years. As a hobby, I run a year-round organic farm, complete with sheep, chickens, fish, cows, fruit trees, berries, grapes and vegetables. Springtime is when I start working on my vegetable garden. Here are a few tips that may be helpful for you to have a successful vegetable garden this year.
1. Plan your garden ahead of time. Prioritize the vegetables you want the most because overcrowding makes your plants weak and vulnerable to bug infestation.
2. When possible, I follow an old Chinese proverb that says, “Don’t walk where you are going to plant and don’t plant where you have walked” because compacted soil makes the roots weak and vulnerable to bug infestation as well.
3. Add 2-4 inches of well-aged compost or mulch to your garden each year. The long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term benefits of commercial fertilizer. If you cannot use finished compost right away, be sure to cover the pile with a tarp to avoid losing valuable nutrients in the compost.
4. Consider watering plants in the early morning by using soaker hoses. This helps avoid powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that are often spread by high humidity.
5. When planning your garden, be sure to put plants that require the most sunshine in spots where they will get the strongest rays, when possible, for strong vital plants.
6. Attract ladybugs to your garden with nectar-producing plants such as parsley and dill.
7. To avoid injuries such as back strain from repeatedly bending over, I recommend warming up your muscles with a brisk walk for 5-10 minutes before you start gardening.
8. Try to alternate activities (digging, raking, pruning) every 15-20 minutes to avoid repetitive strain.
9. Make sure you bend your knees and use your leg muscles to dig, rather than bending from the waist and relying on the muscles in your back.
10. Be sure to use a kneeler mat or stool for weeding.
If you are a passionate organic gardener like me, you know there are many rewards from gardening. You get the benefits of fresh, uncontaminated food at their peak of ripeness, all while cutting your grocery bill. Another great bonus that comes with gardening is that you get great exercise, fresh air and sunlight.
Nearly everyone can reap the benefit of fresh, nutritious food by becoming a gardener. You don’t need vast amounts of space. Even apartment dwellers can create a well-stocked and edible garden anywhere there is available sunshine. Hanging baskets work great for a wide variety of crops, such as herbs, leafy greens and strawberries.
So get ready, get set – garden!