The next step to preparing your home garden is planting. If you have prepared your soil and left it to sit for a few days, you are ready to plant your seeds or your vegetable bedding plants you bought from the store. I have failed miserably sprouting my own seeds on some vegetables, but have also had great success with others like peppers and watermelon.
If you want to start from seeds, you have to tend to them daily and introduce them to the outside in small amounts before they can be planted in the ground. If you are looking for vegetables or herbs quickly, starting with bedding plants would be the way to go! Starting from seed will save you more money, but whichever option you choose to do for your garden, I will cover the basics of each!
Starting from Seed: Avoiding GMO’s
You want to buy from a seed company you can trust. So how do you know which have the best seeds and selections? And which follow sustainable practices? If you are new to home gardening, it is important to note that the corporate behemoth and GMO titan Monsanto has been gobbling up the seed market faster than a caterpillar can munch a tomato plant! In 2005, Monsanto grabbed approximately 40% of the US vegetable seed market with its acquisition of Seminis. They are slowly trying to take control of every seed, but with a little research we can avoid GMO seeds for our home gardens.
Planting a sustainable home garden is much more than just choosing certified organic seeds and seedlings because Monsanto has cleverly positioned itself to make money off the home gardening trend. So, does this mean that even if you buy organic or heirloom seeds from a completely independent company some of your purchase might be supporting the bad guys? Yes, it does. And I want nothing to do with Monsanto. If you want to avoid putting your pennies in their pockets, I have given you a few tips on how to do so below.
Buying Organic or Heirloom Seeds Without Supporting Monsanto
Buy from companies Monsanto has not bought and are not affiliated or do business with Seminis
The graphic to the left indicates numerous companies that are worthy of your patronage as compiled by the International Seed Saving Institute. Please note that this many not be a complete list.
Avoid buying heirloom varieties for which Monsanto owns the trademark
Print this list, and keep a copy in your wallet. Don’t be caught off guard the next time you impulse shop at a big-box garden center.
Starting from Plants: Why Choose Organic?
Nursery plants with a “certified organic” label are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers. Any nonorganic nursery plant (which is every plant lacking an “certified organic” label) is almost sure to have used some type of synthetic product in the propagation and growing of the plant.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has very exacting standards that must be met for a plant to bear the “certified organic” label and conducts an annual review of all producers of such plants to ensure that they continue to use the accepted methods.
The label “organic” does not guarantee that a nursery product meets the standards of organic certification. It may be used on a label in reference to natural ingredients in potting soil, such as organic matter. Tricky!
Benefits of Organic vs Non Organic
- It has been shown that organically grown food is significantly higher in the essential vitamins and nutrients that your body uses in it’s defense against cancer.
- Organic food also greatly reduces the intake of harmful chemicals in the human body, as organic growing does not use any pesticides, growth hormones, fertilizers, or toxic artificial additives like flavoring, coloring or preservatives.
- Studies at the University of Washington concluded, that children who eat a diet of organic food show a level of pesticide six times lower than compared to children who eat a diet of inorganically grown food.
- Among the 30 most common conventional pesticides, 19 have been found to be carcinogenic, 21 have negative effects on reproduction, 13 have been liked with birth defects, 26 of them cause kidney or liver damage, and at least 11 cause hormonal disruption.
What is the Difference Between Heirloom, Open-Pollinated, Hybrid and GMO Seeds?
- Open-Pollinated varieties are produced from a population of “parent” plants with very similar genetic characteristics. Open-pollinated plants, grown in isolation to prevent cross-pollination with another variety of the same species, will produce offspring that are very similar to the original parent population, allowing seeds to be saved and grown out ‘true-to-type’ year after year, generation after generation. These varieties can also be selected for disease resistance.
- Heirloom seeds are open-pollinated varieties that have been maintained and handed down by seed savers for at least 60 years.
- F1 Hybrid refers to the first generation of offspring plants produced by a cross of two genetically different parent varieties, usually of the same species. Hybrids can have advantages, including robust growth known as “hybrid vigor,” uniformity, and the fact that they are often bred to be disease resistant. Since the 1920’s, many hybrid varieties have been bred using traditional breeding methods. Seed saved from F1 Hybrids will not grow ‘true-to-type’.
- GMOs or more accurately, varieties created using ‘recombinant DNA technology’, can be either hybrids or open pollinated varieties. Recombinant DNA technology is the ability to combine DNA molecules from different sources into one molecule in a test tube. The inserted DNA may come from related or unrelated species, or created in a laboratory. GMOs are not permitted in organic farming systems.
Planting Your Garden
Step 1: Proper Sunshine
This is the most important thing to remember! Ideally, some parts of it should get full sun (6 hours of continuous sunshine per day), and some parts should get partial sun (either dappled sun, or full sun for less than 6 hours per day). Even if parts of your garden are in total shade, there are a variety of plants (including foliage plants and even flowers) that can flourish.
Step 2: Using your garden layout map which you created in the planning stages, use stakes to mark out where different rows will be planted.
Step 3: Establish your pathways so that you won’t be walking across areas which will be planted.
You don’t want to be compacting the soil which you have worked so hard to fluff up.
Step 4: Build your trellises or set in stout stakes for climbing plants such as peas and beans. Create mounds on which you will put in the vining plants such as cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons. In my first garden, I used this wire fence!
Step 5: You are now ready to sow your seeds, and to put in your vegetable bedding plants. If you purchased bedding plants, or started your seeds indoors in pots, dig a small hole which is
slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of the new plant.
Water the plant thoroughly prior to planting it out in the garden to lessen the shock of transplant. Gently tap the pot to loosen the roots and remove the new plant.
If the root ball is tangled and compacted, use your finger tips to gently loosen the outer roots.
Set the plant into the hole sightly deeper than it was growing in the pot, and firm the soil in around it,
making certain that there is good soil/root contact. Water thoroughly!
Planting depths and spacing are critical, so don’t crowd to many plants into the allotted space or you may end up with spindly plants and no food. Be sure to place a tag or marker on each row or area so that you will know what to expect will sprout there and when!
In the next post I will talk about pest prevention and growing tips! This picture above of my first garden was the result of a solid planning phase and consistent weeding and watering. Stay tuned for those tips in my next post!