I love growing my own food and would recommend that you try it.
There is extreme satisfaction in knowing where my children's vegetables are coming from and that they are as organic as I can get for them. I started gardening as a child w/ my Grandparents. Years later my Grandmother sent me home with my own seeds and seedlings. I was the only 3rd grader I knew with a little garden, and one that produced well at that :)
Fast forwarding ...
My husband and I planted when I first moved to Florida. At that time, we lived off the channel waters and the noseeums and other bugs, mold and raccoon drove us NUTS. Our herbs and onions did well, but the veges did not. We did not plant again until this year and I am so glad that we did. Even our dog had his paws in the dirt ... Our baby loved watering and developed a respect for the plants ... my teen learned a lot about the commitment it takes.
This years decision to garden started when we went natural / organic foods. We spent a lot of time touring farms and learning about CSAs; as well as hydroponic and aquaponic vs contemporary gardening. We had a lot to learn about organic food, organic farming and the sustainable food movement ... We decided on contemporary gardening and then to pot garden in case things did not go well. From our soil to companion planting; despite the fact that what we wanted to grow was not on the list of what was recommended for the summer; we managed to have quite a little garden and are looking forward to expanding in October - March as this is when it is best to grow food in Central Florida.
We used recycle pots and a truck tray (we waited and then located these on Craigslist).
We bought our seeds from a reputable organic farmer on Ebay (he sells the survival packs).
We purchased our soil from an organic farmer. We used egg rocks from the store; we just rinsed them like crazy ... they really did help with filtration and we did not have mold. We had to deal with leafminer, aphids, etc ... just like organic farmers. It was quite a challenge ... organic demetris earth (DE) was helpful, but we sometimes had to use "homemade remedies" to sustain.
The funniest part is that husband did not know to space the seeds when first planting :) We ended up with 40+ tomato plants (3 different types) and 39 pepper plants (4 different types) in addition to the garlic, chives, onions, cilantro, italian basil, sweet basil, parsley, radish, carrots, eggplant, pole beans ... it was too hot and wet for any kale, chard or lettuces to grow :) The green leafy veges are what we will add next month.
Here are some pictures in case you are interested. This process is good for people that have limited space or renting; this is also a nice way to learn how to grow food and see if it is something that you want to commit to prior to digging up your yard. It is also nice to have the option of moving plants into the shade and, in our case, out of the summer rain (we had quite a bit of flooding rains).
I'll post again once our Fall / Winter crop starts producing :)
GROW FOOD ... NOT LAWNS :)
A few of the pots we set up with the rocks below the soil to help with filtration.
This first group starting to grow,
My husband planted too many seeds in the pots - this was the size they were when I
needed to transplant the radish and tomatoes :)
A salvaged truck storage container, egg rocks and organic manure / compost soil.
Cleaning the rocks well to serve as the base. Drilled holes beneath them for draining.
Spreading the organic soil over the rocks ...
1st transplant - they were still too many / too close, but we started like this knowing
that we would need to transplant into another larger container or pots.
We had no idea that all, but 2 tomato plants would survive because we were instructed
against planting them in the summer. So, we had to transplant again into larger pots.
They survived tropical storm Debbie ... Some looked like bonsai and trees because of
the 1st leaf miner attack (I pulled too many leaves because this was new to me :)
Our little garden ended up on this side and the other side of the yard. We planted the
radish, chives, carrots, etc. around the tomatoes in pots.
Some of the first tomatoes ... we were very excited :) Seemed like they took forever.
Last carrot in this pot before planting more. They took quite a long time as well.
Oddly shaped, but really good radish ... they grow fast ... great for companion planting
in any season but summer because the leaf miner attach their tops. This is good to keep
them from the tomatoes and basil, but horrible if you want to eat the radish greens.
The first cherry tomatoes ... I love how they grow in stages; always producing; taste so
much better organic then what I had been buying in stores over the years.
Peppers were us ... which is rare in the Florida summers ... we had jalapenos, cayenne
and habanero peppers. These take much care to spare from the aphids, as well as the
horn worms that come at the end of summer. Those buggers love tomatoes and can
wipe out all of them if you don't catch them. I learned that they like peppers, too.
I love how green peppers grow straight up in the air and eventually downwards like this.
I could not grow cilantro fast enough. I love it mixed with other fresh greens. Gotta watch
in the summer because the leaf miner will attack them, too. Although cilantro is not
supposed to do well with a lot of water, I found it quite durable in the summer.
Cayenne is actually fun to grow. They do get attacked by the aphids, though easy to manage.
The larger tomatoes looked and tasted great as well ... very rewarding and saved money.
REMEMBER ...GROW FOOD ... NOT LAWNS :)
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