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Gardening is a great pleasure


Last updated 12/28/2006 at Noon

It’s the end of December and the rest of the country is in a deep freeze. For them, gardening and fresh picked veggies are either a dream or in a fancy greenhouse. Not for us, though. I harvest fresh salads, fresh greens, onions, carrots and beets a few times a week. We can have a wonderful variety of fresh picked, enzyme-rich, clean food every day of the year.

To keep a fresh succession going, two weekends ago, on Saturday morning before the rains, we planted more lettuce, Asian greens (bok choi, tatsoi, Napa cabbage), kale, collards, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, endives, celery, spinach, green onions, carrots and more.

Gardening is year-round here. There are seasonal varieties that do better in hotter weather that keep it exciting and stimulating. The lowest valleys will freeze harder and thus limit the varieties they can grow. Those who live in the more frost-free higher elevations, your choices soar. With that in mind, begin to plan for an expansion of the vegetable garden. The temperature seems to be about 70-degree days with cool nights for the week.

Gardening is a great pleasure. The art of organic gardening helps us to create a greater understanding of nature based on ongoing observation, reflection and meditation on all surrounding natural phenomena and processes. The more we penetrate the sphere of nature, the more we become aware that what surrounds us is in itself of an overwhelming wisdom.

Let us strive to keep our households in a clean, sustainable environment. This is a wonderful concept. The Harvard University, School of Public Health, linked low-level exposure of pesticides to a 70-percent higher risk of Parkinson’s disease. Exposure to home pesticide use may raise a person’s risk accordingly. In our gardens we can use biologic and organic pest controls that are nontoxic, non-residual, never carcinogenic, safe for us and the environment and all available locally.

With the fear of contaminated food from large farms constantly looming in the wings, we will approach our gardens in such a way to not even allow this to be a consideration. As I write these articles each week I will focus on crops of the season. How to fertilize, weed control, mulching, pest control and soil building for what we are trying to accomplish. We can use fertilizers that are more plant-based and contain no contaminants or pathogens. If these bad bugs are not in the system, this then eliminates our worries about them. Gardens should only be a source of vital health-giving food and joy.

Most garden soils will need to be strengthened. This can take a while to accomplish. Cover crops are one way of adding organic matter to the soil to feed soil organisms. If any of your gardens – or you – are exhausted and ready to turn off for a while, consider the concept of growing a soil-building cover crop. An easy one to come by is lentils, garbanzo beans and oat groats. These can be purchased at the bulk bins of large health food stores. Look for organic seeds if you can. Local farm supply should have rye, oats and vetch that work just as well. Simply plant these 75 percent beans (legumes), 25 percent grasses (oats or rye) on the garden bed and rake them in. They will germinate easily this time of the year and soon have a tall green cover crop. They usually last a couple of months and we will discuss turning them under in the spring.

Cover cropping is nature’s way of soil-building; this helps all the microorganisms to thrive. The cooperation of microorganisms (good bacteria, good fungus, micorhizza, earthworms and others in the soil) assists in breaking down plant material, releasing soil-bound minerals and building humus particles. This process is alive, rational and wise and cannot be copied or synthesized by man. All of these processes assist in helping the plant to convert the sun’s energy into physical energy that allows life on Earth to exist.

If you have any gardening questions, I would love to answer them. Write them down and please deliver them to Rocky Peak Farms (“The Peak”) at 936 South Main Avenue in Fallbrook. I cannot receive e-mail because I am in the gardens or greenhouse or working with the schools too much to spend any time at the computer – forgive me.

Have a sane and happy New Year, and see you in ’07.


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