Grow Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden!!
Grow Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden!
Moon Valley Farm really began as a home garden for the family. Each year the garden grew larger and more new plants were added to the mix. Fast forward to the present day and we are a full-fledged organic farm providing produce to families restaurants and individuals just like you! Have you thought about gardening at home? Right now is the perfect time! It’s not too late to start your own organic vegetable and herb garden.
With years of experience under our belts we wanted to toss out a few of the tips and tricks we have up our sleeves in order to help you with your own gardening adventures! Read on to find out some of the basics on how to plan for gardening success. Join our Moon Valley Garden Club closed group on Facebook to join other area gardeners and talk all things organic gardening with likeminded souls!
Many farmers will tell you that it all really starts with the soil. Soil is where plants will gain nutrients from for their growth, and is also how they get much of their water. We always recommend getting a soil test on your garden with recommendations (make sure you ask for organic recommendations!) for amendments to modify your conditions to be more ideal for vegetable production.
While you don’t have to have the perfect, pedigree soil it is a great idea to invest in some good, organic compost. When planting you can add some compost into the holes that your plants will call home. This will give them a boost of nutrition as they grow their roots down into the soil, and will also add to the quality of the soil for years to come.
Another popular option is compost tea. These “brews” are worth researching and trying out. Essentially, a dry or fresh compost is to a certain ratio of water (sometimes with added goodies meant for the plants and soil). Again, organic is best, and one of the big advantages is that you can add nutrients throughout the growing season while you water your plants.
If you're planting in pots, it’s worthwhile to seek out a superior organic potting soil since the plants don’t have access to the diverse underground biome of in-ground gardens.
Remember, don't treat your soil like dirt!!
It’s pretty simple—different plants have different requirements for light. Some like shade and some need full sun. Research is key here. Doing your homework on what your plants need will let you pick the perfect spot for them so you can grow for success! Depending on where you’re located, any overhead shade on the property and a variety of other factors, the ideal place for your garden plants will be influenced.
If you have a spot with sunlight conditions that change throughout the day here’s a simple exercise. Note which areas get full sun at two hour intervals throughout the day beginning at sunrise (or close to it). As the areas fall into shade, you can mark that spot and time down to reference later. Through the process of elimination you’ll find your best spots for full sun, and also where you’ll get shade in the morning, in the evening (and in some places all day).
Many common garden plants grow best in full sun. The key here is to do the research so you know exactly what your plants need. Some plant varieties will even give you the minimum number of sunlight hours they require. In this case it pays to pay attention.
A few examples here: Tomatoes & eggplant need full sun! Lettuce, cucumbers and parsley will tolerate part shade.
On earth water is essential to almost all life forms. In the garden it is especially crucial. A few quick tips:
It’s best to water plants in the morning and soak the soil around their root system thoroughly while avoiding getting leaves, flowers or vegetables wet if you can.
If you have potted garden plants make sure there are holes in the bottom of the pot for water drainage. This will avoid soggy roots and unhappy plants. A good rule of thumb to follow when watering your plants is to poke your index finger in the soil and see if it’s dry. Dry? Time to water—a good two or three soaks during which you can see water drain out the holes in the bottom of the pot should do it. Indoor plants may need significantly less water than outdoor plants.
How often do you water? It depends—on the plants, the weather, your soil. One thing that will keep your plants happy though is to make sure they don’t wilt. Connecting with local gardeners, farmers and agricultural extensions may be a good resource for learning more about when to water to keep your plants happy and healthy.
QUICK TIPS: Invest in a simple irrigation timer if you want to automate! We use drip tape or "wobblers" (mini sprinklers) to water most of our crops. Basic rule of thumb is to aim for 1" of water per week, and a little extra when it's hot, dry (or both!).
We covered where and what...so now let’s talk when! Did you know there are some plants that grow best in spring and fall? Yes, you can get two harvests a year with these cooler weather gems. Some other plants grow well almost year round (like kale and lettuces!), and still more are prime in the traditional summer growing season. Reading up on what your specific plants prefer is the best way to plan for their health (and yours!). Plants generally have “planting windows” that depend on where you live. Basically, there are consistent time frames in which to plant seeds or seedlings and have them survive and thrive in your area. If you're unsure whether or not it's a good time to plant something, ask in our Facebook group!
Keep Showing Up
Becoming a great gardener doesn’t happen overnight, and brings with it many joys (and sometimes a few disappointments). Don’t be afraid to ask experts and other gardeners in your community. Like many things in life, if you keep striving to learn and get a little better each day you will be rewarded (with awesome veggies and herbs in this case!).
It’s also good to start where you’re comfortable. Maybe you grab a few starter plants from your local farm and plant them in the ground or in some pots on your patio. You could also go all out with a fenced in garden where you sow all your seeds by hand according to the calendar you’ve mapped out based on your research. Gardening is meant to be happy making, and that is as subjective as the color of the sunset.
RECIPE of the WEEK:
Radish Greens Pesto
Many CSA members have posted in our Facebook Group about how they've made radish greens pesto while radishes are in season! This is a vegan version, but if you like cheese, try this recipe!
2 bunches radish greens, (about 4 cups, packed)
1/2 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1.5 teaspoon granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon black pepper,, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup water,, as needed
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the s blade, pulse the radish greens and pumpkin seeds 10-20 times until finely chopped.
With the machine running, pour the olive oil in with the greens and seeds in a thin, continuous stream.
Stop the machine and scrape down the sides. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper, then process for 10-20 seconds until combined.
With the machine still running, pour the water in, one Tablespoon at a time, until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. You may need more or less than 1/4 cup.
If you're concerned about the pesto being too bitter, replace half of the radish greens with something milder like spinach, kale, or chard.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to three months
Looking for ways to use the radishes that were attached to those greens? Try these fish taco bowls.