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Friday, August 19, 2022

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Organic Gardening Essentials

We are in an age of informed consumerism, particularly in the food we buy. Americans are more concerned than ever about where their food is made, how it’s made, and what it’s being made with. More and more people are beginning to reject agroindustrial methods and the health concerns that accompany mass-scale food production in favor of locally-grown, organic options. Eating organic has been found to decrease the adverse health effects of consuming pesticides and help protect the environment from harmful toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, eating healthy can often starve the wallet, and that is why so many people are digging back into their roots, quite literally in fact, to personal gardening.

Starting your own organic garden is surprisingly simple, providing you are willing enough to throw on a pair of gardening gloves and get comfortable with Mother Earth. The most important thing to remember is, like anything, gardening is a learning experience fostered through inevitable triumphs and failures—if your first harvest didn’t yield as much as you’d like or died altogether, don’t give up. Never overwhelm yourself or start too ambitiously—you’ll only be met with discouragement. It’s okay starting with a single plant type and gradually expanding. You might also consider doing some research online or consulting an experienced gardener to give you some valuable tips.

Before you even begin to think about what types of seeds you want to grow, you need to make sure your soil is optimally conditioned. Preparing the plot of land you’ve designated to organic gardening will be the foundation of the entire project. It’s recommended you start by getting your soil tested in order to get an accurate report of the quality of the soil. You can do this by purchasing a home testing kit, or by sending a sample to your agricultural office. The basis for healthy soil is mixing in quality compost, leaf and grass clippings, and manure. It is important plants receive vital nutrients to help them grow and flourish.

Because we live in Florida, it is important to choose the plants and that withstand Florida’s heat, intense sunlight, and erratic rainshowers. If you’re considering planting potted varieties, look for those that have not been nurtured with chemicals—after all, that defeats one of the benefits of having an organic garden. The University of Florida’s IFAS Extension has a Florida Gardening Calendar that breaks the state up into three regions and lists the varieties that are best suited to be planted for each month. Okra, peas, and tomatoes, for example, are ideal for planting in the summer for a fruitful winter yield.

For information regarding proper watering, weeding, and pest control, the University of Florida also provides a helpful and in-depth gardening guide which will answer all of your detailed gardening questions. It all starts with a pair of gardening—now get to work, Green Thumb!

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