A few days ago we shared some tips on best practices for spring planting season from our very own Farmer Kim Grabosky. As promised, here are a few more ideas on getting the most out of spring planting season:
6. Diversify. The fun in planting your own garden is how many types of crops you can grow that you have never seen in a store before. Consider open-pollinated and heirloom varieties as opposed to seeds that have been Genetically Modified “GMO”. You can plan for vegetables, fruits, medicinals, edible flowers, pollinator attractors, perennial herbs and wild native species. Source from small seed companies or ask friends with a green thumb if they have seeds saved for planting. If your seed is “Certified Organic” you can be certain the seed is non-GMO. Some seed companies the Travaasa Farm sources from at our farm include: Turtle Tree Seed, FedCo, High Mowing, Seed Saver’s Exchange, Native Seeds, Kitazawa, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seed.
7. Consider chickens. And any other kind of animals you can care for. Plants and animals work beautifully when paired together. Animals provide the necessary products through their waste to add to you compost or yard. Plants provide necessary nutrients to feed your animals. Chickens are a low maintenance animal that can help provide lots of phosphorus for your compost, which will in turn support the microbes in your soil to feed your plants. Instead of constantly buying compost and soil fertility from a garden store try making your own by inviting animals into the project. Having fresh eggs is just one of the many perks in this relationship. For more information about raising your own chickens come to Travaasa and attend our chicken keeper class or consult with someone in your community with similar experience.
8. Focus on soil life. “A handful of soil has more microorganisms in it than there are humans on the planet.” Your plants will only be as healthy as the soil microbes living in your soil. Instead of trying to kill bugs, weeds, bacteria and fungus diseases on your plants learn to nourish the microorganisms in your soil, and they will do all the heavy lifting for you. For more research check out Teaming With Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.
9. Be observant but not too attached. Gardening, like any craft, takes time to understand. Sometimes things that sound good on paper just won’t work for your situation. The skilled farmers and gardeners are not good at growing because they have never failed or always stick to the textbook. Trust your observations and even take notes about how your seeds, plants and soil are doing. When things die just use the experience for your next growing endeavor. It’s not a big deal; death is part of the cycle.
10. Everything has value. No matter what you produce, the effort is not in vein. You can eat most of the crops your harvest, not just the pretty looking ones. When you have abundance make pickles, preserves and friends with your neighbors. Anything that isn’t personally consumed can feed your animals or your compost. Just keep all that work you’ve done in your yard instead of throwing valuable nutrients into the trash.
Recommended Reading: Grow More Vegetables Then You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Ever Imagined by: John Jeavons