Gardening Tips 6-10



TIPS, HACKS & RESOURCES FOR BEGINNING (& EXPERIENCED) GARDENERS


Tips 6-10

6. Choose the right plants & seeds for your garden (also see chapter 3.6)

7. Watering just right

8. Make friends with weeds

9. Grow culinary herbs, sprouts, & flowers (beauty, pest control & medicine)

10. Learn to cook (not a recipe) & develop your own spice palette (use what you grow!)


6. Choose the right seed & plants for your garden

Plants should grow well in your area without much care, should be foods you will actually eat, and should be placed where they will get the proper amount of shade and water, and have enough space to reach their mature size.


FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING SEEDS & PLANTS

· Food you will actually eat

· What grows well in your area, your zone* & microclimate?

· Sunlight & Shade requirements

· Water & Moisture requirements

· Size of plants at maturity (space plantings for full-grown plants & trees)

· How will plants be pollinated? (wind, bees, or by hand?)

· Think about food types: energy foods, strength foods, nutritional foods & medicine


See Chapter 3.6 for information on buying seeds.

*www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov


7. Watering

· Your garden needs clean water. Use rainwater, or filter to remove chemicals and heavy metals.

· Determine water needs before planting. Most plants like good drainage.

· Most plants need to dry out between watering.

· Learn the signs for too little water and too much water.

· Plan how your plants will get water at the right time in the right amount.


8. Make Friends with Weeds


Don’t hate weeds. They are a resource. Learn how to use them.


· Many weeds are highly nutritious and delicious

o Dandelions

o Purslane

o Gotu Kola

o Pigweed (amaranth)

· Chop & Drop weeds to build mulch around plants

o Composting in place

o Prevents more weeds from growing in your garden

· Many weeds can be feed for animals

o Grasses

o Legumes

· Compost weeds to feed back to soil

· Weeds indicate conditions of soil

o As soil improves some weeds will disappear completely

o A nice, well-mannered weed can be used to outcompete terrible weeds. Leave the nice guys.


Barren Soil leads to hardier, more difficult to remove weeds. Keep soil covered in plant material (crops, cover crops, understory plantings, and mulches. Nature will occupy any space that is open. Keeps spaces occupied by friendly plants or mulches so weeds don’t have a chance!


9. Grow culinary herbs, sprouts, & flowers (beauty, pest control & medicine)

Most culinary herbs are easy to grow. Fresh herbs are far superior their grocery store counterparts, which are often poorly grown, typically irradiated, and are probably several years old the day you buy them. Cooking with herbs you grow yourself will enhance all your food in flavor and in health.


Herbs do more than flavor our food. They serve as natural medicine. We crave herbs and spices because we need them. Look up the health qualities of your favorite herbs & spices. You will be pleasantly surprised.


Herbs can be grown in a sunny kitchen window where they get constant attention, or in attractive pots on the deck. Culinary herbs should be grown close to the kitchen when outdoors so that the cook can grab a handful quickly during cooking. Herbs are helpful grown among food crops. Some herbs repel pests and some nourish beneficial insects that prey on garden pests.


Growing sprouts is as easy as it gets. Growing sprouts takes some sprouting seeds (like alfalfa, broccoli and mung beans), a jar, and water. The seeds are rinsed every day then drained, and kept in the kitchen by the sink. You can eat them in just a few days.


And don’t forget to grow flowers. They are attractive and give joy. They are food for the soul. Many flowers are edible and medicinal. Flowers help increase beneficials insects like bees in your garden. They offer health, balance the ecology, and color to the landscape with fragrance and beauty.


10. Learn to cook (not a recipe) & develop your own spice palette (use what you grow!)

Learning to cook does not mean following a recipe, although that is a good skill to have. Learning to cook means taking what you have on hand and making it into an edible meal.


Typically what our distant ancestors did was hunt what they could catch, and gather what they could find, and use whatever they got that day as the recipe for dinner. If you are depending on your backyard for food you need to know how to take available ingredients and make it into a meal.


For example, say you harvested 4 eggs, a handful tomatoes, a small head of lettuce, a sweet pepper, an eggplant, and a handful of berries from the garden, and you have some potatoes and flour stored in the pantry. What are you going to have for dinner?


Hypothetically, I could hard boil the eggs and add tomatoes and peppers on lettuce for a hearty salad, with berries for dessert and save the eggplant for another meal. I could fry the eggplant with fresh tomatoes slices and sweet pepper rings, served on lettuce leaves, with berry fruit cups for dessert, saving the eggs and potatoes for breakfast.


No recipe required, just imagination. Maybe I make the berries into turnovers. The eggplant could be sautéed using tomato and sweet pepper for the sauce. The eggs could be made into mayonnaise for salad dressing. And so on. Learn how to make food with what you’ve got. Sometimes the simplest food is the best.


Learn which herbs and spices you like in your food and grow those. Having a palette of herbs and spices that are you use frequently means you always know which herbs and spices go well with each food and with each other. This way you can make any combination of food taste good and you will always be a good cook.


The most important consideration in growing herbs is to plant them as close to your kitchen as possible. This makes it as easy as going to the cupboard for spices.

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