Hello Howling Community!
Grace here! Over the years, there have been minuscule signs that I've wanted to learn to be a more part of nature. Lately, it’s been a strong yearning that has pushed me to really start to think about respecting and living from the earth.
It’s no secret, you can’t produce something from nothing, and that certainly applies to gardening. You can’t grow something and expect nothing to be taken from the earth. Which is why I’m on a mission to learn how to grow my own food and grow it sustainably. This project is really for myself and I’m sure TONS of mistakes along the way but, if you’re new to gardening as well, or just had a small interest, OR just want to come along for the journey I hope you won’t be disappointed. OR, if you’re highly experienced and just enjoy watching my struggles please, I beg you, throw me some tips.
Here are just a few things I learned this first season and tips my soft, un-calloused hands wished they knew before I started gardening:
1. IT WILL BE HARD BUT WORTH IT
In our yard, we have pretty limited space when it comes to where we can put any sort of garden, and even less space close enough to a water source. From digging out roots, to lugging in pounds and pounds of soil, to planting and watering, it is all sweaty and hard work but, 100% worth it once you harvest baskets full of tender and sweet vegetables.
2. CONSERVE WATER
Making sure our plants are well hydrated in the hot Southern California sun is important. As a way to reduce the water we use, we try our best to passively harvest water that we use to wash fruits or veggies or putting a bucket in the shower. Filling up a small bucket in the kitchen with used but clean water allows us to go out and water our plants and conserve water we’d use otherwise.
3. PAY ATTENTION TO SEASONS AND LEARN ABOUT PLANT CYCLES
One important, important thing to do is be sure to learn when you need to germinate and sow your seeds. For spring planting, you can always begin germinating your seeds indoors, before transferring to your garden, to allow plenty of time for your plants to mature so you can have a bountiful harvest. Otherwise, once summer hits and the days become sunny and hot, accelerated growth can cause your fresh vegetables to go into a different plant cycle. Bolting “aka flowering” causes the plants to become bitter and inedible.
4. ONLY PLANT THINGS YOU LOVE
One thing to realize when it comes to gardening is that we need to be aware of how many resources we are actually using. Yes, growing organic is wonderful but it still uses an excess of water and nutrients from the soil. Anything we don’t use or eat would be a waste of all the resources put into growing them. If you find yourself in excess of anything you can’t eat yourself, pack those babies up for your friends, family, or neighbors!
5. COMMIT TO ORGANIC AND NO PESTICIDES/CHEMICALS
This is pretty much a no brainer when it comes to designing a sustainable garden and are trivial when it comes to your health. Pesticides and chemicals only harm the environment and your garden. I’ve been exploring options on natural weed and pesticide options by imitating some things that occur in nature and will have blog in the future with things that worked best for our garden.
6. ZERO WASTE GARDEN
Something new that we are exploring is composting, using every part of the plant to feed nutrients back into the soil. While this is very much still in progress, zero waste seems pretty easy to achieve. We’ll get back to you on how our compost progress is coming!
These are just a few things I’ve been doing and learning in the garden. Any tips or questions are gladly welcome, until next time!