I started my organic vegetable garden from young plants, figuring that it was cheaper to buy a 6-pack of small lettuces for $1.49 and to eat those than it was to buy bags of organic lettuce at Whole Foods for $4.99. I found a little garden store called Merrihew’s Sunset Gardens in Santa Monica and the employees became my mentors about gardening. My garden provided me countless hours of meditation, a work out and many delicious dinners.
Here’s what I learned:
Moving is one of the most disruptive events in a young plant’s life – you have to be careful when driving the plant home and when transplanting form a smaller pot to a bigger one.
Pay attention to details. Read all the tags about your plants to find out how much water and sun they want.
Stick to a schedule. Plants like regular watering and feeding schedules. Set aside 20 minutes 2-3 times a week to devote to watering.
Plan ahead. Figure out how you are going to lay out your garden and make sure to give plants adequate space, especially to maximize vegetable yield.
Don’t be afraid to get rid of stuff. My lettuces flourished because I was continually picking leaves to eat. When my tomatoes started to lag, I went through and pinched off all the extra leaves and stems that weren’t flowering. These extra leaves take up the plant’s energy so it is beneficial to prune the tomato plant down to the essentials.
Live and eat seasonally. In the fall, I planted kale and chard because these plants do better in the winter time.
Stay away from chemicals. There are many organic solutions to problems with pests. For instance, I lined my garden with mussel shells to try to keep the neighbor’s cat out. Keeping your garden (and life) organic makes you healthier. No one wants to eat chemicals.
Share with your neighbors. Everyone needs to eat more fruits and veggies so make a point to pick some for your friends and family.
Have fun. I found great enjoyment playing in the dirt, making messes (and cleaning them up) and digging holes.