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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Grow Your Own Organic Produce

The high price of produce, especially organic, means interest in home vegetable gardens is growing rapidly. Last year many seed companies reported their sales doubling. Want to start a garden, but wonder if you have the space, time or knowledge to be successful? Here are some tips to consider.  

Space. People seem to think to have a worthwhile garden they need to plow up the whole back yard. Nowadays many people have big houses and tiny yards, so there’s not enough room. Others may have big houses and big yards, but lots of trees, so there’s limited sunlight. Using raised beds and planting much smaller gardens is an effective solution.

Time. With the demands of career and childrearing, who has time to be in the garden digging, tilling and pulling weeds? The advantage of raised beds is that they can be built on top of existing lawns and don’t disturb the soil. This means thousands of dormant weed seeds will never see sunlight and never sprout.

If a gardener uses weedless potting mix or a combination of compost and sand (75/25%), their weeding worries are over. A properly prepared raised bed vegetable garden means your only work is planting seeds and watering.

Knowledge. Don’t have a clue where to start? Your first issue is sunlight. You need a spot in your yard that gets at least six hours of sun a day. If you don’t have enough sun, you might consider a joint project with a neighbor, friend or relative or look into community gardening. 

Another issue is how to make small gardens productive. Raised beds allow deeper, more fertile soil so crops can be planted closer together. By avoiding space-hogging crops like corn, okra, pumpkins and watermelons and selecting those that offer a more valuable and ongoing harvest, the home gardener can have a very productive garden in much less space. Two beds measuring 3 feet by 9 feet can provide an excellent harvest for a family of four, especially if a trellis system is used for climbing crops like peas, beans and cucumbers.

Finally, when do you plant? The time to start planting in this area starts in early March for a spring garden and mid-April for a summer garden. So consider smaller, raised bed gardens. They’re less work and a lot more fun – and it’s something almost everyone can do.

Don Rosenberg owns Instant Organic Garden, a business that installs raised bed vegetable gardens throughout the greater Charlotte area and is the author of No Green Thumb Required! Organic Family Gardening Made Easy. More info: [email protected] or 704-910-6498.

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