Meg West is the host of the quarterly sustainable landscaping program “Garden Wise” where in this second episode, “Dynamic Organics,” they focus on tips from the professionals to grow your own vegetable garden organically and in your own back yard. For more Garden Wise episodes subscribe to the SaveWaterSB YouTube channel.
For those that don’t have the time to watch the whole video, here is our video summary and accumulated tips to grow your own vegetable garden from Meg and the experts she spoke with.
Meg’s first stop is was to speak with Oscar Carmona of Healing Grounds Nursery:
The primary reasons for people to garden organically according to Oscar:
Soil fertility is the key, Oscar says, lots of organic matter in the form of compost and mulch make plants healthier and taste better. Commercial fertilizers are primarily salt based, while they offer Nitrogen, Phosphorus or potassium in significant amounts, they do so at the expense of the lifeforms in the soil which makes it impossible for the earthworms and microorganisms to survive there. Organic soil, on the other hand, is the way nature has kept the earth stable for 1000’s of years and we’re just helping nature strengthen that cycle. A lot of people don’t realize that plants that are conventionally grown are grown not for flavor or nutrition, but for convenient shipping and storage ability.
Oscar explains that recycling your green waste is the key for would-be vegetable gardeners. Our compost is the “gold” of rich soil so people can really do wonders for their home gardening endeavors by simply beginning to recycle (static pile or worm bin) green waste, coffee grounds, juice pulp, leftover breakfast fixings, newspapers, cardboard (mix in straw), etc. and get it into your garden! Worms do all the work because they like moist, decomposed food, and then they will decompose it further. Grab some soil and when the castings look like dirt and you can no longer recognize what it is, it is ready for compost as a wonderful addition for container gardens, backyard gardens, and anywhere else you might want to grow happy, healthy plants.
One other vegetable garden tip:
A 5 gal bucket is the capacity for keeping roots for tomato plants/cucumbers.
Island Seed and Feed specializes in organic gardening where Meg asks how do we know if a garden product is organic? The answer: OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) stamp lets a consumer know it is safe to use in an organic garden.
Another great tip for home gardeners is knowing your soil’s nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium levels. To accomplish this you can send your soil to a lab for testing and then you will know exactly what your soil needs. Here are four local labs recommended by Meg:
Kitson Landscaping with Sarah Kitson is a Pioneer with organic landscaping on a commercial scale. One of the biggest challenges on a commercial level is making sure your garden looks good all the time. The #1 most important garden care product according to Sarah: MULCH.
The folks at Garden Wise don’t promote lawns because they take a ton of water, are expensive to maintain, and are usually maintained with chemical fertilizers that are bad for the soil and bad for the environment. However, if you do have a lawn the following tips will help you maintain it.
“Gardening organically is easy and it’s the right thing to do to protect the environment.” ~ Meg West
At the end of each episode they are now also picking a unique tree to tell you about. This episode they discussed the he Brazilian Cedarwood Tree. Start at the 25 minute point for a complete history, series of interesting facts, and even additional books to read if you’d like to know more about the Cedarwood Tree.
Landscape Designers Owen Dell and Billy Goodneck designed the original firescape demonstration site. This section of the show discusses how wildfires can be reduced by appropriate planning of water wise plants, irrigation and management using a zone system, several types of plants that are in the garden.
Each episode they also pick a flower and help you know it better. In this episode they focus on the Yucca a “dramatic, dangerous, and drought tolerant plant.” There are a long list of different Yuccas and Meg says, “If ever there was an architectural plant, Yucca is it.” Parts of the Yucca can be used to make soap, clothing, and even cooked and eaten.
For tons of more information and research online to help you live green and save water www.waterwisesb.org