Woman gardening

Tips For Growing Your Own Organic Produce

You say you’re not the type for organic gardening. People who grow their own organic vegetables are the kind of people who practice yoga. They throw away their razors and change their names to Persimmon or Rutabega. They listen to new age music and Joni Mitchell. They replace all their tight-fitting clothes with sack-like hemp items. You would never fit the bill. Although it may be tempting to find some plausibility in this scenario, it is actually quite far from reality.

Organic gardening is actually one of the most practical things you can do. It’s the healthiest and cheapest way to produce food for your family; the transcendental meditation and is optional. If you’re thinking of growing your own organic produce, here are some tips for keeping it real.

Gardening

Green Manure
Green manure is a way to grow plant material while improving the quality of the soil. It’s usually planted in the winter and grows a few weeks before planting season. It retains nutrients while it grows, until it’s cut down and turned into the soil. Winter rye is a good source of green manure during the winter because it clamps onto the soil to prevent erosion. Comfrey is another excellent green manure option, which helps to add minerals, such as nitrogen and phosphate to the soil.

Compost
Compost is a nutritious humus made from rotting organic material, like grass clippings, wood chips, vegetable or fruit scraps. In fact, you can add anything organic to the compost pile to provide extra nutrition to your plants. Compost can be added directly to the soil and turned under, or you can leave it on the top of the bed and let the worms come and do the work for you. Using compost prevents water erosion and disease. You can make your own compost pile by setting aside a bin and adding organic material at regular intervals, adding it to your vegetable garden bed when the older material becomes finished.

mother and daughter

Mulching
Mulching is a way to slow down the growth of weeds while keeping the soil from dehydration. Although almost anything that provides cover for the bare ground between your vegetables can be used for mulching, organic materials will degrade slowly and add nutrients to the soil. The best organic materials for mulching include dry grass, wood chips, and hay. Spread a few inches of mulch onto areas of bare soil to keep sunlight from reaching the ground and drying the soil.

Companion Planting
Strength in numbers applies to the gardening world as well. Companion planting is the planting of certain types of herbs, flowers, and vegetables together to fight off disease and pests and provide nutrients to one another. Although herbs are the most regularly used for companion planting, there are certain vegetables that should be planted apart or together. For example, planting tomatoes with carrots will make your carrots turn out smaller than usual. Garlic is a natural fungicide that can fight off a large number of diseases and pests. In fact, garlic can even improve the flavor and production of certain vegetables. Beans are an excellent companion choice for corn and grains because they enrich the soil with the nitrogen necessary for these plants to thrive; melons and squash work well with corn as well, because their broad leaves provide the soil with the shade necessary for keeping the corn moist.

Are you going organic? Let us know what you’re doing to make your garden grow!

Woman holding organic foods

Make the Switch To Organic Foods

What does it mean to “go organic?” Is it the environmental equivalent of buying Christian Louboutins? Does it mean meeting friends for organic Suncrust Pizza at the LYFE cafe followed up by a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts? Making the switch to organic foods is not a trend, its a commitment. It means being diligent about shopping practices, and may even require some economical sacrifices. However, it also means taking steps toward a chemical free environment. If you’re considering making the switch, here are some things you need to be prepared to do.

Make Room In the Fridge
Since organic produce typically does not last as long as inorganic, you’ll have to inspect your refrigerator and food storage areas to make sure you have room to store it. Clean out rotten produce to make room for your newer, healthier items.. Consider stocking up on frozen organic versions if frequent trips to the market are inconvenient.

Make a List
Make a list of items that you are running low on and gradually replace them with organic versions. This will cut down on waste and stretch out your finances while you are making the transition.

Organic Produce Shopping
Thin skinned produce or produce without peels have the least protection against pesticides. When switching to organics, berries, celery, apples, bell peppers, peaches, greens, and potatoes should be your first priority. Thicker skinned produce, such as avocados, pineapples, melons, and mangoes pose less of a health risk, and can be held off on, if you need to make the transition slowly.

Shopping for organic food

Organic Dairy
Switching to organics will also mean converting to organic milk and dairy products to avoid antibiotics and pesticides. Although there may be a significant price difference, keep in mind that the switch will help to support and more natural agricultural system.

Meat and Eggs
If meat and eggs are dietary staples for you, you will want to purchase hormone free and organic forms of these proteins. Organic meat will probably be the most costly of all your switches. You may want to accompany this swap with the purchase of few organic flavorings, seasonings, and condiments, to keep your transition tasty.

Read Labels
Look for the “USDA organic” certification on the label of your food to make sure the Department of Agriculture has deemed it free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and that no ionizing radiation was used in the processing of the food. “100% organic” indicates all ingredients are organic, whereas simply “organic” means 95 % organic, and “Made with Organic Ingredients” means that 70 % of the ingredients were not genetically modified.

Shop Around
Go to different grocery stores to find the best prices and selections of organic food. Your regular grocery store probably has an organic food aisle, and you may be able to find organic foods place next to the nonorganic. Health food stores, membership stores, and farmer’s markets can be good organic food sources and you can always consider starting your own garden, if you are so inclined.

Eating out

Eating Out
Do your research when it comes to restaurants. Some restaurants may claim a dish is organic, but key uses seasonings, oils, and other components that may not be. Specialty restaurants are generally most reliable.

What do you think? Are you prepared to take the steps for a healthy environment and a healthy you? Let us know!