As we continue to look at simple ways to be kinder to the Earth in our every day lives, I become acutely aware of our climactic changes and challenges. Here in the Cascade foothills in Snohomish county, WA, we are noticing a trend of colder winters and more often several feet of snow when we used to rarely get inches if any at all. Early Spring is wetter and floods now happen earlier in the year and longer in duration and intensity. Wind storms are more prevalent and there are more downed trees to deal with. And, it’s hotter in the summer months, making it imperative to pay closer attention to the garden plants to insure they are well watered, mulched/composted and sometimes shaded from the sun’s intensity. We continue the discussion with more ideas to create the optimum circumstances for success in the garden.
A COMMUNITY GARDEN is a wonderful way for urbanites to grow a flower and vegetable garden when you don’t have the space or want to interact with others in the community to create a more green urban environment. This is also a fabulous way to introduce young people to the joys of growing their own food. Here’s a few resources in larger cities.
Houston TX: http://www.urbanharvest.org/
Buffalo NY: http://www.urbanroots.org/
Denver CO: http://www.dug.org/home.asp
Rutgers University has a community garden self help guide: http://tinyurl.com/c83fvu
If you start a community garden, make sure that the soil is tested to insure there are no contaminants like lead or other hazardous chemicals that might permeate the crops grown. Some communities are starting gardens for the poor to help supplement the diminishing budgets of our older citizens and those who make do with less. All of these endeavors are rewarding, and again, a good place to introduce children to a sense of ‘community’ while connecting them with Nature.
PLANTING SIMILAR SPECIES of vegetables, like broccoli with cabbage or Brussels sprouts should be avoided as they will compete for nutrients. Companion planting is aesthetically delightful and helps improve soil while keeping pests at bay. Here’s a great companion planting guide: http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html
DIG DEEP when preparing soil for planting. Digging adds air pockets which help repel root-dwelling insects and oxygenate the soil. This helps plants put down healthy roots. This is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to condition the soil. All organic gardeners I know prefer to turn soil by hand after using a garden tiller.
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