Learn how to start a vegetable garden and fight cancer. Discover the dangers of GMOs and fertilizers and how to avoid them. And find out how to grow your own vegetables without hard work or weeds!
The Problem With Our Farming Practices
The vegetables that we buy today are not as healthy as they used to be. Farmers have to produce a certain amount of crop every year to get paid. As a result, they often deplete the soil when they reuse it too many times.
Fertilizers and herbicides entered the market to produce more plants in less time. Chemical fertilizers are essential for the cost-effective production of commercial crops.
The purpose of any fertilizer is to increase the number of nutrients in the soil and make it more fertile. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are what plants need to grow. But too much nitrogen in the soil can kill off fish in nearby lakes.
There are two main types of fertilizers, organic and chemical. Organic fertilizers come from natural sources such as animal manure and plants. Chemical fertilizers use inorganic materials, which undergo chemical treatments.
These fertilizers trade fast growth for health in plants. At worst, chemical fertilizers may increase the risk of developing cancer. Some fertilizers come from the residuals of wastewater treatment facilities. Therefore some of them test positive for heavy metals.
Another problem with the food we buy is GMOs.
GMOs Can Cause Cancer
Genetically modified organisms are engineered plants. They can withstand herbicides and pesticides.
Therefore half of our farmland is full of chemicals thanks to GMOs. Their chemicals poison the air and our food. The risks that GMOs pose are real and affect us even when we don’t consume them.
The world leader in GMOs is Monsanto. Bayer, a pharmaceutical company, recently bought them. Monsanto's product Roundup is the most used weedkiller in the world.
You have to use this product together with Monsanto's seeds that can withstand this toxic spray. Other plants and insects die when they get into contact with Roundup. Roundup contains a poisonous chemical called glyphosate.
Glyphosate increases the risk of cancer, miscarriages, and ADHD. A former school groundkeeper got skin cancer after using Roundup. A San Francisco jury ruled that Monsanto had to pay him $289 million in damages.
One way to avoid GMOs and fertilizers is to eat organic food.
Organic Foods Are Too Expensive
In the United States, you have to grow organic crops without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs. Organic foods often have more antioxidants, than ordinary grown vegetables.
Peoples' food allergies tend to lessen or go away when they eat organic foods. Organic farming is also better for the environment.
But the problem is that they are more expensive than non-organic products. Your food bill will increase if you buy only organic fruits and vegetables. And they are not always easy to find.
The solution to this problem is to grow your own vegetables.
Growing Vegetables Is Hard Work
Growing vegetables have many advantages. First, you can produce them with natural methods. Second, you can get fully ripe vegetables that are full of vitamins and minerals.
But there is also a downside to growing them. What I mean is the old way most people cultivate plants.
I remember when I was little and I planted potatoes in my grandparents' field. They had long rows that you had to cross to grow potatoes.
My back hurt after I had to bend down and put potatoes in the ground in one long lane. It was exhausting and unpleasant. My first experience with growing vegetables was not the best. It took too much hard work.
Because of the many limitations of the old way of doing things, many people give up and hate gardening. It seems that gardening has to take hard work and dedication to get the results you want.
But what if I told you that there is a better way to grow vegetables without the hard work?
In the next section, I’m going to explain a better way to grow your vegetables. This method works even if you have terrible soil and limited mobility. You don’t need fertilizers or long single rows.
Does this sound too good to be true? Let me explain one man’s unusual new gardening technique.
The Solution: Square Foot Gardening
In 1975 Mel Bartholomew retired from his consulting engineering business in New Jersey. He then moved to the North Shore of Long Island. After two years of rebuilding the house and improving the ground, he decided to take up gardening as a hobby.
He too experienced the problems I explained above with the old way of growing vegetables. Mel was an efficiency expert before he retired as an engineer. His job was to visit construction sites or facilities and make them more efficient.
One thing he couldn't understand was why you had to plant hundreds of seeds in a long row and then thin them. Why waste a lot of seeds and then remove the sprouts so that every plant was 6 inches apart?
The old single row garden often has a 3 feet distance between each row so that you can walk between them.
Mel discovered that if the package said thin by 6 inches, it meant that you could place a new plant 6 inches in each direction. They grew just as well so long as each plant had 6 inches all around.
That meant that he could place the rows closer to each other. He shortened the rows further until they were only 12 inches long and 12 inches wide. The result was a square foot planting area.
If the plants had to be six inches apart, he could place four of them per square foot. And if they needed to be 12 inches from each other, then that meant one plant per square foot. If the plants only required four inches of space, you could place nine per square and so forth.
Mel named his new technique Square foot gardening. This new way of growing saves 80% of the space. You could now produce the same amount of vegetables in a 4x4 foot area.
Another problem Mel discovered that most soils were not well-suited for gardening.
The Problem With Maintaining Our Soil
Most soils only contain about 3-4% organic material. The traditional way of improving the earth is to first to dig or till up the entire garden.
You need to dig as deep as you can and then add soil enhancers such as compost or manure. After all that mess, you still need commercial fertilizers. That is a lot of hard work.
Because you grow in a 4 x4-foot layout, you can eliminate 80% of the garden area. That is space that you don't need to fertilize, water, improve, or weed out. Why fertilize a huge garden when all plants grow a few inches apart?
Another thing Mel asked himself was why you should plant an entire row of the same thing? Why do you need a whole row of cabbages if you can't eat that much? It might make sense if you're a farmer but not a home grower.
No one goes to the grocery store and buys thirty heads of cabbage once a year. The solution is to plant less of everything.
The single-row gardening is nothing but an old technique from large-field crop farming. Single rows make sense when you depend upon a tractor to plow up the soil. But it is a waste of space in a home garden.
Here are some great benefits of Mel's new growing technique.
7 Benefits Of The Square Foot Garden
1. Grow Close To Your House
One of the biggest problems with single-row gardens is their size. They take up so much room that they are often in your backyard. SFG takes only 20% of the space of a single-row garden. That means you can locate it much closer to your house.
Also, your garden doesn't have to be all in one place. You can split up your SFG in different regions.
Another great benefit is that you can grow on top of your soil.
2. Grow On Top Of Your Soil
Mel created a soil mixture that you put on top of your garden. It contains all the minerals and substances you need to succeed in growing your vegetables. Mel's mix has only three ingredients, compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. More on that later.
If you start with a perfect soil mix, you will save a lot of time and money. You don't have to have your soil analyzed anymore, of fixed.
There is no need to buy special ingredients to loosen your clay soil or solidify your sandy soil. This major advance in home gardening eliminates all hard work.
You can put the box wherever you want. If you live in the city and don't have a garden, you can always put it on your balcony. Mel's mix also has one other huge advantage.
3. You Only Need 6 Inches Deep Soil
Many experts tell you that your garden has to be at least 12-18 inches deep. Because the soil in our garden lack nutrients the roots have to dig deeper to find it.
The Square foot gardening solves this problem by containing lots of nutrients. Because there are lots of nutrients in the soil mixture, the vegetables don’t have to look for it.
Mel's mix saves the vegetables time and energy and makes it possible to grow them in 6 inches deep soil. That's half of the cost and work.
You also don’t need to use fertilizers in a Square foot garden.
4. You Don’t Need Fertilizers
Because the soil mix is nutritious, you don’t need to use fertilizers. The compost provides all the nutrients and trace elements that plants need. That means that you can make your garden fully organic.
Another good thing about this growing technique is that it is easy to maintain.
5. It's Easier To Maintain
Gone are the days when you had to grow vegetables on long rows. Now you can use less work and still get as good or even better results than before.
Having your garden contained in a box adds uniformity and structure. The basic 4x4-foot bottomless boxes are easy to build out of standard lumber, bricks, blocks, or even stones.
These small boxes will grow five times as much as the same space in a single-row garden. Once your boxes contain a perfect soil mix, there is almost no work at all.
If you place the box on top of the existing ground, you eliminate a majority of problems. There is no wasted time on improving your existing soil. The 4 x4-foot box is easy to walk around and maintain.
You also don’t have to waste seeds in this method.
6. No Need To Waste Seeds
In the old way of growing vegetables, they tell you to put a lot of seeds in the ground and then remove 95% of them.
That is just a waste of seeds and your money. With the SFG technique, you only need to use a few seeds per square instead of several thousand.
If you plant a few seeds in each hole two or three seedlings come up. Take a pair of scissors and snip off all but the strongest one. That eliminates any disturbance of the plant you want to keep.
By using this method, you can have one healthy plant in each location. At the same time, you're not wasting a lot of seeds. And then there is the best benefit of them all, no weeds!
7. No More Weeds!
You don’t have to deal with weeds when you use this method. Weeds stay dormant in the soil and start to grow when you use fertilizers.
The SFG solves this problem by using a unique soil mixture above that doesn't contain any weeds. The only way they can get into the box is through the wind.
But they are easy to spot and remove in an instant. Gone are the days when you spent hours on eliminating them. You will not only save time but also work less hard and make gardening more enjoyable.
So now that I explained the benefits of this method let’s learn how you can use it yourself.
How To Start A Vegetable Garden
Step 1: Plan And Build Your Garden
The first step in growing with the SFG technique is to plan where you want to put the boxes and how many you need. One 4 x 4 SFG box will supply enough produce to make a salad for one person every day of the growing season.
How To Find The Best Location For Your Box
Add another square, and you can provide daily vegetables for that person. A third box will supply that person with extra of everything.
Start small in the beginning so that you don’t become overwhelmed. The next step is to build the squares.
Build your boxes from materials like wood, bricks, or blocks. You can even use composite wood or recycled plastic or vinyl.
Things That You Need To Build SFG
After you have assembled the box, you put it on top of a weed cloth. Then you blend Mel's mix and put it in the square.
Step 2: Make Mel's Mix
To make the unique soil mixture, you need three things: compost, peat moss, and vermiculite. You then mix one-third of each ingredient by volume and not weight. After that, you put the mixture in the box. Here is an explanation of what each element does.
Good compost has all the nutrients needed for plant growth. It's loose and friable. It holds lots of moisture and drains well. It's easy to make yet hard to find. The best kind is homemade compost that you make in your backyard.
Compost is a vibrant, crumbly, soil-like material used in gardening. It is the process of breaking down dead plants through a decomposition process.
There are two types of processes, aerobic, with air; and anaerobic, without air. Both are natural. But the first, or aerobic, has no odor, heats up, and does its job well.
The second, or anaerobic process, smells and is messy. Another name for it is rotting. Any plant material is perfect for adding to your compost pile as long as it's not hosting a plant disease or pest. When you pile ingredients together, they will decompose with air. But it takes time.
How To Make Good Compost
If you use the right ingredients and mix, mash, and moisten it, the process will speed up. The more bulk you have in your pile, the faster it will compost or decompose.
If it's taller than 4 feet, you'll have a hard time adding new ingredients. If the area is larger than 4 x4, the air will have trouble getting into the center where all the action is.
The second ingredient in Mel's mix is peat moss.
2. Peat Moss
The second ingredient in Mel's Mix is peat moss. It's a natural material occurring on the earth. Peat moss is the result of decomposing plant materials for millions of years.
You can determine how old peat moss is by measuring its thickness. It's common in agriculture to improve existing soils. Peat moss makes the earth lighter, more friable, and water retentive.
It's also a nonrenewable resource; therefore, you should not waste it. In the United States, most peat moss comes from the northern states and Canada.
Vermiculite is a mica rock mined out of the ground. Its purpose is to make the soil mixture easy for the roots to move in and grow. Vermiculite is a natural material and is obtainable all over the world. This material holds a tremendous amount of water.
How Much Mel's Mix You Need Per Box
*Measurements in feet
After you mixed Mel's mix, you add it to your square. The last step is to put grids on top of the square. You are then ready to start growing your plants!
Step 3: Start Planting Seeds
The reason why you grow the vegetables in a box is that it is easier to divide the soil into squares.When your square foot has a border, it's much easier to think one, four, nine, or sixteen plants in each square foot.
All that you do is draw lines in the soil with your fingers.Read your package to find the distance for thinning your vegetables.
This distance determines if you're going to plant one, four, nine, or sixteen plants per square. Each plant comes in different sizes much as our clothes do. There are small, medium, large, and extra large sizes.
The extra large, take up the entire square foot. Some plants that need additional space are cabbages, peppers, broccoli, and cauliflowers.
Plants per square
Broccoli, cabbage, pepper
Lettuce, Swiss chard
Spinach, beet, bush bean
Carrot, radish, onion
Next are smaller plants that can fit four in each square foot. These plants include leaf lettuce, dwarf marigolds, Swiss chard, and parsley.
Medium plants come next. You can put nine of them per square foot. Medium plants include bush beans, beets, and large turnips.
Smaller vegetables like radishes and onions can squeeze 16 plants per square.
Take a pinch of two or three seeds depending on the size. Now, put them into the holes you poked into the squares. Plant the seed 2 to 4 times the depth of its size.
You then water the plants and wait for them to grow.
The vegetables that we buy today are not as healthy as they used to be.
Fertilizers make plants grow faster and may increase your cancer risk.
Genetically modified organisms are engineered plants
Glyphosate increases the risk of cancer, miscarriages, and ADHD.
Organic farming is better for the environment and our health.
The old way of growing vegetables is hard work.
You can save 80% space by using the Square foot gardening technique
How To Start A Vegetable Garden Step By Step
1. Buy All New Square Foot Gardening Book
2. Plan your garden
3. Buy the stuff you need
4. Build your square foot garden
5. Blend Mel's mix and put it in the box
6. Plant your seeds
If you want to learn how to start a vegetable garden, then I recommend that you buy the book "All New Square Foot Gardening." It goes into greater detail about the whole process. Click here to get this book.
Plan on where to place your squares and then buy all the material you need to build them
After you have built them, mix compost, peat moss, and vermiculite and add it to your squares. Create a grid and then plant some seeds and wait for your garden to flourish.
Resources & Citations:
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