It took me several years of gardening to fully appreciate just how important healthy soil is. But when I began growing food for my family, I embraced organic methods. Why go through all the effort to grow your own food if you are just going to spray it with the same chemicals the commercial farmers use? And why expose yourself to those chemicals while you’re supposed to be out enjoying nature?
When I began organic gardening, I really did not expect to harvest the same yields that I would obtain from using chemicals. Boy, was I wrong! It took awhile to learn about organic gardening methods, and I’m still learning, but once I began to regularly amend my soil with natural, healthy matter such as compost, worm castings, and aged manures, the garden responded with generosity. I rarely have problems with disease or fungus. My plants tolerate heat better, and my yields feed my family and friends very well! Most nights after work, we throw something on the grill, stroll out to the garden and pick our dinner!
In addition to amending my soil, I regularly feed my plants and with natural teas made from compost, worm castings, or fish emulsions. This season, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out Haven Brand Moo Poo Teas. Annie Haven and I are Twitter friends (follow her on @GreenSoil and me on @CowlickCottage–we’ll introduce you to tons of Twitter gardeners!), and she comes from a family of ranchers that raise grass-fed beef. I think it’s brilliant that they use the Moo Poo to create fabulous organic fertilizers. When Annie sent me a trio of teas, I was delighted with its neat, environmentally friendly and very pretty packaging. The reusable fabric tea bags make it a breeze to make a big, 5 gallon bucket of garden goodness. A couple of weeks ago, I used the alfalfa tea on my roses, and the Moo Poo tea on my vegetables and container plants. Here’s a peak at the results from the first tea party of the season!
My green bean bed is blanketed with growth and buds and baby beans. We’ll begin harvesting them in a week or so. The sweet green beans are so crunchy and delicious that even our doggies sneak them right off the vine for a treat. This 4 X 8 raised bed will provide us with more than enough green beans to eat, share, and freeze. There are two different varieties of green beans planted in this bed that will ripen a few weeks apart, extending our harvesting season.
The Three Sisters are a classic example of companion planting that dates back to the Native Americans. There is a wonderful spiritual component to them as well. The combination of corn, pole beans, and squash not only provides nearly complete nutritional sustenance, but the plants actually work together and help each other. The oldest sister, the corn, is planted first and allowed to get about a foot tall. Then the middle sister, the pole beans, are planted around the corn, which provides the pole beans with a stock to scamper up. The pole beans are rich in nitrogen and feed the soil, and as they wind around the corn, they provide it with extra support as it grows taller. The youngest sister is the squash. She dances around the beans and the corn and blankets the soil with her leaves and flowers, helping to keep the soil cool and free of weeds. As you can see, like most sisters, they can be a bit unruly and wild! I plant the Three Sisters in honor of our three daughters, who share a similar relationship of love and support with one another.
My herbs just love the Moo Poo tea. This tarragon ball is at least two feet around, after a good trimming. If you are just starting to garden, or don’t have much room, try a few herbs. Fresh herbs will change your cooking for the better!
While we grow mostly heirloom tomatoes, this is a little hybrid named Totem. It was so cute, I just had to buy a couple and plant them to see what they do. They are totally covered with tomatoes…I think there are more ‘maters than leaves! We will enjoy them before our heirlooms are ripe and ready.
I can honestly say that I’ve never had such beautiful, healthy container gardens before, and I especially love this elegant combination of coral geraniums, pink muhly grass, and sweet potato vine. Use really good quality potting soil, drench regularly, and feed your container gardens with natural teas like Moo Poo. The results are delightful!
We have about 30 Knockout roses along the back border of our property, and they had already bloomed this spring and were just kind of hanging out, looking a little weary and kind of gangly. Two weeks ago, I drenched them with Alfalfa tea, and last weekend each plant got a half-cup of Epsom salts soaked in around its roots. Kind of like a spa party for roses! They are now covered with beautiful new growth and starting to bud again. The rose border will be stunning in a few weeks.
This container is an example of what you get when you mix Proven Winners plants with Moo Poo tea! I fell in love with this gorgeous petunia, called Pretty Much Picasso, at the Proven Winners Outdoor Living Extravaganza this spring and bought two little plants. They are the most productive and easiest petunias I’ve ever grown. Gorgeous and extremely healthy. Regular tea parties will help to keep my little petunias blooming like crazy!
I hope you’re encouraged to try using easy and healthy organic methods and products in your own garden. And while I am recommending a couple of my personally favorite products, I have not been compensated to brag about them, and my comments are soley based upon my own experience.