An Adventure that Reaps Fabulous Dividends!
Did you know….. Organic food has up to 30% higher health-giving antioxidant levels than conventional food grown under the same conditions, according to Charles Benbrook, PhD, in his report, "Elevating Antioxidant Levels Through Organic Farming and Food Processing".
What Is Organic Gardening?
Organic gardening is the wise use of water, organic matter and other natural resources to rebuild the soil and grow healthy plants without using synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. Raising an organic garden — whether flowers, landscaping, vegetable gardening, or all of the above — has many outstanding benefits, including harvesting chemical-free food that tastes better and is better for you, and fostering a healthier living environment for you and your family and a safe haven for beneficial insects such as bees which pollinate up to 25% of our food crops.
Get Your Exercise ..... By Gardening!
Gardening is outstanding exercise. It is estimated that the average person expends up to 250 calories or more per hour while gardening — the caloric equivalent of burning one 2 oz. candy bar or a large-size soft drink at a fast food joint. (Of course, we would not want to advocate calorie-burning via gardening as a way to justify eating junk food!)
A study cited by Virginia Tech found basic gardening activities such as weeding, planting and turning over compost facilitate levels of exercise similar to walking or bicycling. The study also found gardening efficiently exercises major muscle groups and it is not as stressful on the joints as other forms of exercise such as jogging or aerobics.
The National Institutes of Health recommends gardening activity and other moderate forms of exercise 30-45 minutes a day, three to five times weekly as an effective way to combat obesity and to help reduce risk of osteoporosis.
As with any exercise program, including gardening, be sure to consult your health care professional for advice.
Organic Gardening Tips
Here are basic tips from Sunset Magazine, the Univ. of Florida IFAS Extension, and various online organic information sources. Many of these are tips we in the Tada family have used in our own organic vegetable garden for over 30 years:
Warm up, cool down: Since gardening is definitely an exercise activity, health professionals advise stretching and doing warm up exercises such as walking and limbering up the arms and legs prior to and after your gardening workout.
Wear proper clothing
Use gloves for hand protection and get a good pair of gardening shoes. Wear comfortable clothing suitable to the climate and season that's somewhat loose fitting to allow for full range of motion.
A very important safety tip is to be sure to use proper and safe lifting techniques to prevent back injury.
If needed, wear a hat and use adequate sunscreen protection on the skin. If possible, try to garden before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m. This is the time period to avoid, as it is when the sun’s UV rays are at their highest level and most damaging to the skin.
The proper use of tools can also help prevent injury to joints and the body. Consider ergonomic tools* for hand comfort and ease of use.
Use tree trimmings (not sprayed with chemicals) and organic vegetable kitchen scraps. Call your local gardening extension for composting tips and purchasing a composting bin. Consider the benefits of earthworms for adding nutrients to the soil. Use aged, cured compost as a soil amendment and as a mulch to conserve water.
Preparing the garden bed by digging and turning soil over is one of the most important elements of gardening with tremendous exercise dividends. Shoveling dirt helps distribute soil nutrients better, and you are burning the equivalent of 250 to 300 calories per half hour. If working with heavy clay soils, consider adding home-made compost or store-bought organic potting or planting mix (containing forest products, sand and peat) to help break up soils and to increase drainage and prevent erosion. Our family prefers planting soils without animal manure, to decrease any possible risk of heavy metals and other impurities such as fungus spores that may be in the manure. Beware of soil mixes or fertilizers that contain artificial fertilizes — some may even contain processed sewage sludge, which has been known to cause health risks such as respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, rashes, reproductive complications, cysts and tumors. Be sure to inquire at your nursery to avoid these kinds of products.
Choosing your vegetables
Start from organic seeds and/or from organic starter plants available at a local nursery. Grow veggies “in season” for best results in plant vigor, flavor and nutritional value. Consider devoting at least part of your planting area to raise your favorite organic vegetable varieties that are hard to find in the store. Also try planting organic vegetables as a healthier alternative to those that normally have a high level of pesticide chemical residues when grown commercially, such as strawberries, lettuce, spinach and green peppers. See the page on this site featuring the “Dirty Dozen” foods that have the highest chemical levels to get ideas as to which kinds of vegetables to plant organically in your garden.
Use natural, organic, low-nitrogen fertilizers such as fish emulsion from ocean-going fish, kelp concentrate, organic cottonseed meal* and other organic dry fertilizers*.
Note: High-nitrogen chemical fertilizers can promote leggy growth spurts, resulting in plants less resistant to pests. Just as with potting/planting soil mixes, our family avoids use of fertilizers containing animal manures (e.g., chicken manure/litter, bat guano, steer manure, etc.) to help reduce any possible exposure to heavy metals and other toxins such as fungus spores and more.
Pest management (weeds, “bad bugs”, animals)
Hoe weeds between rolls and hand-weed next to plants before weeds such as wild grasses go to seed. Weeding is great exercise and burns calories at the rate of 180 calories per 30 minutes. Hand-pick snails and dispose, or use non-toxic traps, or wrap copper strips around planter boxes and at base of plants and trees to keep snails and slugs at bay. Instead of spraying caustic insecticides (which can indiscriminately kill BENEFICIAL insects that prey on pests), use a water spray from garden hose to knock off bad insects, or use a mild spray solution of an organic, non-toxic soap* and water to take care of aphids and other pests.
If deer are a problem in your area and it is not feasible to contruct a tall fence to contain your garden, consider treating the parameter of your garden with non-toxic deer repellents such as blood meal or egg extracts which are available at most nurseries. To keep rats and other rodents at bay, consider humane means of control such as "HavaHart" containments which lure an animal into a holding area without causing pain, or natural repellents with safe ingredients such as extracts of pepper which are available online or at some nurseries. Inquire beforehand.
A word about rodent poisons: Besides being hazardous to humans and pets, these often cause a slow, agonizing death for rats and mice, and many rodents are becoming resistant to these poisons, causing poison manufacturers to make even more caustic baits that can be devastating to pets or wildlife which may accidentally ingest these toxins. Rodents that ingest poisons often crawl into hard-to-access places to die, causing a nasty smell and an unpleasant investigation as to its whereabouts to eradicate. In addition, natural predators such as foxes, owls, raccoons and hawks may eat a poisoned rodent, thus endangering themelves with acute secondary poisoning. We read about the tragic story of a fox in the East Bay Area of Northern California which ingested a poisoned rodent and died a few days later. Bottom line: Non-toxic means of pest control can prevent these tragedies and definitely have advantages in safeguarding the health of you, your family and the earth God has given for which we are to be good stewards.
To conserve water, place organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation. Use a shovel or trowel to make shallow “basins” in the soil surrounding plants to catch water and direct it to the plants’ roots. Consider a natural and organic soil conditioner to allow water to seep into the soil to prevent runoff and erosion. This will also help roots to take up fertilizer and soil nutrients more efficiently. Buy a garden hose that is “drinking water safe” to decrease exposure of plants and people to toxins that might otherwise leech from materials of lower quality hoses.
Giving the Land a "Rest"
An important part of the cycle of care for your organic garden is to allow the soil to "rest" periodically from planting. This can be for a prescribed length of time, such as an entire year once every seven years, as mentioned in Leviticus 25:1-7, and is referred to as a "Sabbath rest" for the land. This gives the soil nutrients a chance to re-build for the next planting cycles.
Additional ways to farm sustainably and help maintain the nutrient content and health of your garden soil is to rotate crops and to diversify the variety of crops grown. Try planting different vegetables different years, rather than the same type of vegetable year after year in the same spot in the garden.
Gardening in the City
If conventional "garden space" is non-existent, don’t give up! With a little planning and foresight, urban gardening in the heart of the city can be very successful, even in the smallest of spaces.
Enjoy designing your very own oasis of color, with the added benefit of harvesting fresh, home-grown produce.
Several varieties of fruits and vegetables, including strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, cucumbers and dwarf citrus and apple trees, as well as herbs such as rosemary and basil can be grown successfully in simple planter boxes and/or in tubs. TIP: Make sure containers have adequate holes on the bottom for good drainage.
Use trellises and other devices to espalier (train) branches of fruit trees and to aid growth of climbing vine plants and increase yield. Choose a sunny location on your deck or balcony for your special garden, preferably against an exterior wall or other vertical flat surface.
Many of the tips on organic gardening can be adapted to the urban landscape. Consult your local nursery for advice and organic gardening supplies.
Let's Spread the Word!
Encourage neighbors to adopt organic, chemical-free gardening. The choices we make do affect those around us. For example, chemicals used on one property can easily contaminate neighboring gardens via runoff, over-spray, etc.
“Vote” with your dollars by patronizing as much as possible organic products and businesses that sell natural, organic items. The greater the demand for these products, the greater their availability will be.
Ask if your local community garden has gone organic yet, for the sake of people’s health and well-being. Consider starting an organic community garden if there isn’t one yet in your area.
Share this list of tips with your family, relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances.
One by one, we CAN make a difference in healthier living and a healthier environment, to the glory of God. Let’s be good stewards of the precious resources God has given us.
HERE’S TO SUCCESSFUL ORGANIC AND NATURAL GARDENING!
* Editor’s note: For more information on what we recommend for ergonomic tools and organic fertilizers and natural pest control, please feel free to contact us via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also use the CONTACT FORM on this site.
WORDS TO LIVE BY
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.”
— Genesis 1:29
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.”
— Psalm 24:1 (New Living Translation)
Points to Ponder
1.) If you do not have an organic garden yet, discuss with your family members the prospect of starting one.
2.) If you already have a garden but are presently using chemical fertilizers and/or pesticides/herbicides, ask yourself, in what ways could I start transitioning to more natural methods, using some or most of the tips discussed above?
3.) If you are already enjoying organic gardening, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to share your experiences and what has worked for you. Contact us by e-mail at email@example.com or feel free to use the online CONTACT FORM.
God bless you, and happy gardening!
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Bible Foods for Health
Dirty Dozen Foods to Avoid (or go ORGANIC!)
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