Spring has officially arrived in Dallas. The red bud and dog wood trees are beginning to bloom and so are the bushes outside my door. After seeing these marvels of nature on my way to the grocery store yesterday, I cannot resist thinking about gardening! Even though I'm living in a condo without a space to do much growing, gardening has consistenly been on my mind for several weeks and now I am going to self-diagnose myself with a full fledged case of SPRING GARDENING FEVER - and I think it may be contagious!
Or maybe it's because of this 100 Days of Fun with Real Food challenge . . . just thinking about fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh herbs and farmer's markets reminds me of how much joy I get from harvesting anything!
At this point you may be noticing an emerging pattern . . . as the weekend comes, my mind and my posts turn to a gardening project or two!
For those of you who are new to gardening or who are dyed-in-the-wool enthusiasts, I thought this article may be of interest to you. It's information that kind of bridges the gap between growing vegetables, herbs and fruits, and growing them in a way that ensures they are packed with nutrients and at the same time enriching rather than depleting the earth.
I hope you enjoy it . . .
Six steps to create your own organic permaculture garden
by Tara Green
Organic gardening avoids the use of chemicals to make plants grow or protect them from insects, relying instead on natural gardening principles used for thousands of years. Permaculture organic gardening goes a step further and also emphasizes growing plants sustainably, working with rather than against the grain of the natural environment. Permaculture organic gardening is growing in popularity as more people realize that it offers an inexpensive and relatively low-maintenance way to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Choosing a location
Observe your property at different times of day. Consider which areas receive the most sun, which are in shade for much of the day. Depending on where you live, if sunshine is a scarce commodity, you will want to expose plants to receive as much as possible. On the other hand, in desert regions, you will not want your plants to be in the area most likely to be parched by sun exposure. Also think protecting your garden from the paths where strong winds tend to blow through your property. Even a small property will have microclimates -- notice these and plant accordingly to give different plants either more sun or more shade according to their preference.
Avoid disease-prone plants which require time-consuming chores such as spraying and pruning by the gardener. Select plants which will thrive in your area rather than those which will require extra labor on your part to protect them from the environment. As far as possible, select plants which serve multiple purposes, such as fruit trees which will put forth blossoms in one season, fruit to pick in another, and provide shade for when you want to sit and enjoy your garden's natural beauty. Native plants are also more likely to attract local pollinators such as bees, and to draw butterflies so that your garden contains even more natural beauty.
Making a home for your plants
Raised beds require less physical effort on the part of the gardener and also benefit plants, providing better air circulation, more protection from spring chills and improved usage of water. Raised beds also mean a small permaculture garden is an option even for apartment dwellers and others with little available space since you can rely on containers and vertical gardening principles.
Feeding your plants
One of the key concepts of permaculture organic gardening is to avoid waste. Having a garden gives you a means of re-using natural waste such as eggshells, apple cores, coffee grinds as well as yard waste which many people throw away. You can either purchase or make a compost bin to turn this organic material into gardening gold which can be used to help your plants grow.
Watering your plants
Modern gardeners who do not follow sustainability principles tend to draw heavily on piped-in water resources, often using hoses and sprinklers to make plants which require abundant water grow in a desert climate. Permaculture organic gardening tries to use natural water as much as possible, maximizing the use of groundwater and rainwater. Rain barrels allow you to collect rainfall and extend its use over longer periods of time.
Protecting plants from pests
Eschewing the use of chemicals does not have to mean a garden full of pests. You can use companion gardening principles, growing plants which deter pests near those which attract them. There is also a natural synergy between some plants which means planting them near each other increases your yield. Also, just as some herbs have a medicinal effect on human health, they also offer benefits to plants which grow near them. For more information about companion planting, visit http://www.appropedia.org/CCAT_companion_planting and http://www.gardeningknowhow.com
If you have space and live in an area where it is permissible to keep poultry, chickens can make a wonderful addition to a permaculture garden. If they are permitted free-range for most of the day, they will consume many pests. Chicken manure also contributes beneficial nitrogen to the soil of your garden.
Sources for this article include:
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