Now is the perfect time of year to start thinking about starting your garden! Growing vegetables in your own backyard is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It is healthy, liberating and fun to watch the work of your hands produce the sustenance that fuels your body. Food grown in your own backyard is potentially the ultimate in freshness since you can eat just moments after harvesting.
Fresh food contains more nutrients since certain vitamins, enzymes, and phytonutrients have a very short shelf life. This bounty of nutrients will have an amazing effect on yours and your family’s health. Plus, fresh food tastes much better than produce harvested long before it is consumed. This fundamental guide will outline the basics of how to create your own 10’ X 10’ organic garden in your backyard allowing you to grow 10 different vegetables in 10 easy steps.
Step 1 - Planning Your Garden
If you are starting a new garden choose a relatively level area about 10’ X 10” that gets the most sunlight in your yard. It should an area that gets proper drainage and should be away from any trees. It would be helpful to select a spot that is close to the house and close to the watering hose and close to the shed where you will be storing your gardening tools.
Select 10 different plants that are appropriate for your hardiness zone. For example you may choose bush green beans, cucumber, zucchini, winter squash, tomatoes, pepper, onions, carrots, lettuce (leaf) and radish.
Step 2 - Purchase Seeds
Use organic, heirloom seeds whenever possible. Seed companies that I like include:
Purchase one package each of your ten vegetables. Make sure your seeds are fresh and stored in a cool, dry area until they are ready to plant.
Step 3 - Planting Seeds Indoors
Bush Green Beans 1”
Winter Squash 1”
Lettuce (leaf) 1/8”
Step 4 - Preparing Soil
As soon as the ground thaws and you can work the soil, dig the grass up with a shovel and use sod to start your compost pile. Continue to add grass clippings, leaves, seaweed, and kitchen scraps and dried leaves to your compost pile throughout the year. Add some rock dust to re-mineralize the compost. Turn your compost pile at least a couple of times a week. This compost will be ready to use next Spring at which time you can start a second compost pile and alternate using piles one year to the next.
Step 5 - Planting Seedlings
Seedling When?* Spacing Spacing Thinning
Bush Beans May 1 2” 6” when 4” tall thin to 6” apart
Cucumber May 1 12” 24” when 6” tall thin to 24” apart
Zucchini May 1 12” 24” when 6” tall thin to 24” apart
Squash May 1 12” 24” when 6” tall thin to 24” apart
Tomatoes May 1 6” 24” when 6” tall thin to 24” apart
Peppers May 1 2” 12” when 6” tall thin to 12” apart
Onions March 15 2” 4” when 4” tall thin to 4” apart
Carrots March 15 1/4” 6” when 1” tall thin to 6” apart
Lettuce (leaf) March 15 1” 6” when 1” tall thin to 6” apart
Radish March 15 1/4” 6” when 1” tall thin to 3” apart
* - This is typical for Hardiness Zone 5. Refer to the Hardiness Zone for your area for your specific planting schedule.
Step 6 - Pour on the Water
If there is no rain, water lightly once every day for the first two weeks or until the buds appear. Then, water once every other day for the next two weeks. Then, water heavy twice a week for the remainder of the growing period. Use filtered water. You can use an inline hose filter designed for recreation vehicles as an economical alternative to a more expensive whole house water filtration system.
Step 7 - Provide Nourishment
Step 8 - Pulling Weeds
Try to spend fifteen minutes every day in your garden pulling weeds. If you are consistent about weeding they will not have a chance to get out of control. View this as a pleasure – not a chore. This is actually very therapeutic. You will find that you enjoy it once you get out there - especially when you see and can take pride in the results.
You can also cover the earth around your plants with a few layers of cardboard. Cover the cardboard with thick layers of mulch to help suppress the weeds.
Step 9 - Pest Management
Garlic & Pepper Spray - Protect your garden plants from cabbageworms, caterpillars, hornworms, aphids, flea beetles and other chewing/sucking insects by routinely using a natural spray that you can make at home. The spray must be applied regularly, especially after a rainfall. Brew up a batch as follows:
6 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp dried hot pepper
1 minced onion
tsp pure soap (not detergent)
1 gallon water
Blend & let sit for 1 - 2 days. Strain & use as spray. Ground cayenne or red hot pepper can also be sprinkled on the leaves of plants (apply when leaves are slightly damp) to repel chewing insects or added to the planting hole with bone meal or fertilizer to keep squirrels, chipmunks, dogs and other mammals away from your gardens. Be sure to reapply after rain.
Install bird and bat houses.
Releasing large numbers of Lady Bugs or Praying Mantis into areas of your garden infested with insect pests is a very effective means of controlling aphids, mealy bugs, leaf worms, and many other pests.
Plant a basil hedge around the perimeter to repel rabbits
Plant marigolds around the perimeter to repel insects
Step 10 - Pluck Produce
When harvest time comes, it comes gradually. Some vegetables take longer to grow than others. After the first four weeks it’s a good idea to take a basket and a pair of pruning shears out to the garden every day to see what has ripened. Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to produce more. Most vegetables are at their peak of tenderness and flavor when they are relatively small. Zucchini, for example, are best when they are no more than six or seven inches long. Then they get tough and woody.
Use pruning shears to get a clean cut on the vegetable at the stem. When you harvest, look out for signs of trouble, such as yellowing leaves or rotting fruit, and remove the problem parts. Even if it's something you can do little about -- such as blossom end rot or cracking from too much rain -- there's no point in letting the plant put energy into fruit you won't be able to eat.
Here is a typical harvest schedule for your ten plants:
Vegetable Days to Maturity Ripening Signs
Green Beans 50-70 days When the bean pod has grown to be four inches
Cucumber 50-70 days Usually at seven inches long but earlier stages are also fine
Zucchini 50-70 days Usually at seven inches long but earlier stages are also fine
Winter Squash 85-110 days When the gourd is ten inches long
Tomatoes 60-90 days When they release easily from the stem
Pepper 60 to 80 days When they change from green to red, orange, or yellow
Onions 105 to 130 days Pull one up after 105 days to check.
Carrots 65 to 85 days Pull one up after 65 days to check.
Lettuce 54 to 55 days When the leaves are no more than five inches long
Radish 25 to 30 days Pull one up after 25 days to check.
Foundation of Life Retreat
I am very excited about my next retreat! Please join me in Flagstaff, Arizona for the Foundation of Life Retreat on June 18 thru 24, 2018. This is the only Raw Living Spirulina Retreat in history. Every day each cell in your body will be dancing with joy as you supply yourself with the most nutritious food on the planet. Combined with daily rigorous exercise this is going to be a very fun, exciting and rejuvenating experience. You will recharge your Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit and Life-Passion. This retreat will be a perfect balance between self-healing, fitness and adventure. Here is what is on the agenda:
Fresh Florida green coconut water
Raw Living Spirulina
Red Rocks Mountain biking
Health & wellness lifestyle lectures & workshops
Fasting and detox
Re-feeding with delicious nourishing food
Siberian Chaga tea
and so much more!
Take a vacation for your health! The vibrant setting of Flagstaff Arizona makes it the ideal location for exercise, rejuvenation, healing and reflection. This peaceful setting will allow you to truly relax and reset your mind, body and spirit. Prices start at $1,100 for 6 days – all inclusive. For more information click here.