Gardening: What I’m Growing in 2012

Hi All:

I’m back after a long break since my first posting about my garden.   I have to tell you that I have learned so much about the distinctions in gardening.  I was gung-ho about heirloom seeds but later learned that while heirloom seeds are definitely a good gardening choice, they do not fall within the USDA definition of organic gardening.  Heirloom seeds are not genetically altered, so they are natural.  You just cannot sell heirloom produce as USDA “organic” produce, but you can sell it as “naturally grown”, but only if you are careful about the use of fertilizers.  To truly claim that you are growing organically, you have to be sure you’re not using chemically enriched soil.  Enriched soil often has additional chemical nutrients that will disqualify you as a USDA certified grower.  If you’re just growing for your own household, you don’t need to spend a lot of time sorting through the science of fertilizers.  If you’re a budding commercial grower, fertilizer education is a must.  In general, talk to your retailer about fertilizer.  If you’re growing organic produce, ask them to point out what soils and fertilizers meet USDA Certified Organic requirements and they can help you.

What I’m Growing

At the time of my first post, I was germinating seeds for roma tomatoes, sweet basil, spearmint and a lettuce mix.  Since then, I have added heirloom varieties which include, thyme, lavender, hot & sweet peppers, sage flowers, cilantro, yellow & red onions, oregano, parsley, and celery.  Last week, I began germinating a mix of flowers, organic melons, organic mustard, cucumbers, and organic eggplant.  I have a much more detailed list of what I’m growing in my 2012 garden that I will include in a new page I’m developing that will be exclusively dedicated to gardening.  I’ll include my favorite gardening websites, recommended reading and regular postings of my gardening experiences.

I have decided that I don’t need everything I grow to meet USDA Certified Organic standards.  I will grow the organic seeds according to USDA standards and I’ll grow the heirloom seeds using natural, sustainable methods.  I want to be sure to grow things I like.  Gardening should be fun and I believe you should only grow what makes you happy and piques your curiosity.  I am genuinely excited about the seeds I plant.  I spend countless hours perusing seed catalogs organizing what I’m growing over the next few seasons.  I know that’s geeky, but that’s my thing.

Understanding my environment is another factor is my seed choices.  I am growing in zone 7.  For anyone interested in any form of gardening, you can go to http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/ to learn about your growing zone.  This is an absolute must for your gardening success.  In addition to knowing my gardening zone, I have been taking time to observe my eco system and talk to my hobby farm neighbors to learn from their experiences.  One thing that is clear to me is that the eco system is larger than me.  I’m just a temporary guest on this land and I need to show respect for my environment by first taking time to understand it.  It is with this perspective that I have not planted a single thing in the ground yet.  All of my seedlings are either in the house or in my new greenhouse that was formerly my car port.  I started planting early and have been experimenting with early planting and cold hardiness.  I also take time throughout the day to learn the routines of the wildlife.  We have an abundance of deer, foxes, rabbits (lot of darn rabbits), wild cats and a family of groundhogs that have lived here for at least three (human) generations.  These animals like what I’m growing and the garden battles have already begun.  I get regular visits from the wildlife crew.  They like to remind me of my temporary guest status…LOL!

There’s much more to share, but I’m signing off for now.  I’ll have another entry soon.  We’ve been pretty busy lately as we ramp things up here with new contributors and expanding content.  We just taped the first episode of our new radio show “That’s Right, What’s Left?” hosted by Tobin Brogunier, which goes to broadcast on Cyndacation Radio next week.  We’re totally excited about this and the team has dedicated countless hours planning this new show.  Check back next week for more info about the show  We think you’ll enjoy it!

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