8. Planting Your Garden
Select the sunniest spot for your garden, but near a source of adequate water. Morning exposure to full sunlight is the most beneficial. If part of your garden is shaded, that is the place to put leaf crops. Avoid low wet areas.
A good size for a family garden is 200 to 600 square feet in area, but smaller ones will also produce a lot of vegetables if planted with small seeds such as lettuce and carrots. Plant seeds in rows that are six inches wide, with six inches between the rows. This pattern will result in a harvest of approximately four times as much as you would get from single rows. Leave a walk space of about 16 inches between each 18-inch unit.
Map the layout of your garden. To minimize shading, arrange low-growing vegetables along one side of the garden, medium-tall plants in the middle, and tall ones on the other side. Design your garden with companion planting and crop rotation in mind. (Details later.)
Plan to grow the vegetables you like to eat, and be sure to get seeds that are suitable for planting in your area. Don't use seeds that have been treated or dipped in chemical solution. Look for the varieties that have been developed for resistance to disease.
Don't use last year's seeds—they seldom come up as well as fresh seeds. In most cases, it is not a good idea to save your own seeds. They often do not grow true to type, and the amount of labor spent collecting, drying, and storing these seeds will probably make them twice as expensive as buying new seeds.
If you soak your seeds for a few hours, or overnight, or even twenty-four hours, before planting, germination will be easier and more certain. Soak in plain lukewarm water, or, better yet, in a 1% solution of seaweed spray. If you sometimes don't take the time to soak your seeds, try using the 1% seaweed solution as a seed dip.
Don't sow the seeds too thickly, and be sure to cover them with soil to a depth of about four times their diameter. Firm the soil by patting or walking on it. Then stay off the planting area. The seeds must be kept moist until the seedlings appear.
For a steady supply of vegetables, make successive plantings, or plant several varieties of the same vegetables but with different maturity dates.
You might decide to use some started plants, especially if you are a little late in starting your garden. When thinning and transplanting plants, handle them carefully, allow as much earth as possible to cling to their roots, and give them a good watering after transplanting. Do your transplanting after the sun has gone down.
Be sure to plan for as many fruit trees as possible, limited only by the available space and your ability to care for them. If you harvest more fruit than you can use, you will have a good marketable crop, especially when organically grown. Offer your surplus fruit (at a fair price) to your friends, neighbors, health food stores, and supermarkets. If you have a large crop, it could even be advertised with good results.
Give your fruit trees what they need, but don't feel you must be doing something for them constantly. Mostly, you should leave them "intelligently alone"—the same advice as Hygienists give for the care of the human body. The trees can work out most of their problems by themselves, if you do not complicate the situation by the use of poisons.
Don't overlook grapes and berries! Be sure to select the proper varieties for your area. And don't forget to include some nut trees.
More details about fruit and nut trees will be given in the next lesson: "The Pluses in Orcharding: How to Get Started."
Home > Lesson 49 - The Organic Garden; Avoiding Commercially Produced Foods - Why?
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