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This is How You Can Use Your  Gardening Space At Home!

Most gardeners love having their own garden, but the challenge for many is a lack of space. This is particularly critical for persons who live in the urban areas. It is even worst for those who live in high rise buildings. Having your own garden is a satisfying experience , but this expereince should not be limited to those who have the luxury of adeqaute space. The article below shares some tips on how to utilize our limited space

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How to Grow Your Own Organic Food in Small Spaces

You probably know already that organic foods are good for you. The major problem most people have with organic food is the expense. However, there are several different ways to radically reduce the cost of your food.
Growing your own is probably one of the best, and can be extremely satisfying. I am convinced that growing sprouts is more practical and useful for most people and takes less space and time but it will be a bit longer before I am able to provide a comprehensive article on how to do that.

In the meantime anyone, regardless of space allowance, can also produce their own food. If you have a back yard, you’re blessed indeed. But apartment dwellers can also grow fresh produce. Alex Mitchell’s book The Edible Balcony is an excellent resource.

One of the major benefits of growing your own food is that you have complete control over the end product, from soil composition to chemical exposure.

Whereas a conventionally-grown garden might include the use of chemical fertilizers and potentially toxic insecticides to protect the crop, an organic gardener will forgo the chemicals and feed the soil with natural fertilizers and insect barriers.

The same goes for weed control. While a traditional gardener may apply synthetic herbicides to control weeds, an organic gardener, just like an organic farmer, will use hand weeding and cover crops with mulches to control weeds. For every toxic solution, there’s usually an equally effective non-toxic alternative.

GROWING SEEDLINGS CAN GIVE YOU A HEAD START ON THE SEASON

While you can certainly wait until the danger of spring frost has passed, and then plant your seeds directly in the soil outdoors, you can get a head start by growing seedlings and then transplanting them into your garden. This can be particularly useful in areas where the growing season is short.

Growing seedlings, which can take between four and 12 weeks to sprout, will allow you to harvest your vegetables four to six weeks earlier than had you planted the seeds directly outdoors.

The University of Maine1 has an excellent web site describing how to grow your seedlings, and which ones are best left for direct-seeding due to their rapid maturation:

“Using transplants instead of direct-seeding is especially important for plants that take a long time to mature or are sensitive to frost, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and melons.

Some plants (mostly root crops) do not transplant well, or they mature quickly enough that starting seedlings indoors is not necessary. Vegetables that are typically direct-seeded in the garden include beans, beets, carrots, corn, peas, spinach, turnips, and zucchini.”

To get started on your seedlings, you need just a few supplies:

-Fresh seed, ideally heirloom

-Containers, about 2 to 3 1/2-inch deep with adequate drainage holes

-Growing medium. Use fine-textured soilless mix of equal parts of peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. Do not use conventional fertilizers

Now, once your seedlings are grown and the outdoor temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, the plant will require one to two weeks of “hardening off” before they can be transplanted into the ground, to prevent them from going into shock. This is done by placing them outdoors for just a few hours at a time in a semi-shaded location.

Gradually, over several days, increase the time you leave them outdoors, and gradually increase the amount of direct sunlight they’re exposed to. Transplant your seedlings into your garden in the late afternoon, as the weather starts to cool down (or choose a cloudy day), and water the plants thoroughly. For detailed step-by-step instructions, see the University of Maine’s seedling page2.

THE EDIBLE BALCONY

In her book The Edible Balcony, Alex Mitchell details how to grow fresh produce in small spaces. Filled with beautiful color photographs throughout, the book helps you determine what might work best for you, depending on your space and location, and guides you through the design basics of a bountiful small-space garden. For example, those who live in a high-rise apartment will undoubtedly have to content with more wind than those who live on the bottom floor. There are solutions for virtually every problem, and in this case, wind-tolerant plants can be used, or you could construct some sort of protective screening.

You can use virtually every square foot of your space, including your lateral space. Hanging baskets are ideal for a wide variety of foods, such as strawberries, leafy greens, runner beans, pea shoots, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. And instead of flowers, window boxes can hold herbs, greens, radishes, scallions, bush beans, strawberries, chard, and chiles, for example.

While you will obviously need to use pots if you don’t have a garden plot, avoid using many small pots. The smaller the pot, the faster it will dry out. Instead, opt for large yet lightweight containers. You may also want to consider self-watering pots, which will reduce the time you have to spend watering. (You could even make your own. Mitchell shows you how in her book.)

Another excellent tip for the time-pressed gardener is to install…..

Read the rest of this article at realfarmacy.com

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