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Urban Farming

Advantages and Benefits of Shade Garden in Backyard

What is the Shade Garden Benefits: This article should clear your questions if you’ve never heard of Shade Garden. Generally speaking, plants need sunlight to live and grow. But some plants require less sunlight. Shade Loving Plants are these types of plants. With only fewer light hours, they can thrive. Under this class will come to a plant that can grow with Sunlight for less than hours. Shade Garden is having this kind of vegetable or fruit tree. Getting Shade Gardens in the urban areas is quite popular nowadays. This is primarily due to the tall buildings that don’t help reach the Sunlight.

Since these are now widespread in urban areas, you need to wonder what their real advantages are. Not only you, but a lot of people have the same questions out there. Shade Garden has a lot of advantages that one can learn. We have therefore tried our best to take some of Shade Garden’s greatest benefits to the urban areas. Here we’ve compiled them into a list so you can quickly get to know them. In addition, read this list to learn more about it.

List of Shade Garden Benefits in Urban Areas:

  • Variety of Plants
  • Lower Maintenance
  • Better Water Retention
  • Better Weed Control
  • Recreational Activity

These are five of Shade Garden’s strengths in urban areas. Shade Garden has many other benefits. But they’re all the best of them. In addition, check the section below to learn more about Shade Garden’s benefits in detail.Shop Now

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Kitchen GardenBenefits of Shade Garden in Backyard:

You’ve seen the Benefits list in the paragraph above. Now we’ll bring you Shade Garden’s pros in depth.

1. Variety of Plants: You can’t grow all kinds of plants with the less you have. This gap will be filled by these Shade Loving Plants. In your monotonous backyard or vegetable garden, this will bring the variety. Check this link for Shade Garden’s List of Shade Loving Plants.

2. Lower Maintenance: Once you have the Shade Garden installed, you will find that not much maintenance is needed. This is primarily due to the lower quality of Weeds and More Moisture.

3. Better Water Retention: Because there is very little Sunlight available, the soil’s moisture does not evaporate. This will allow you not to constantly water the crops.

4. Better Weed Control: You know there’s not much Sunlight in the field under the shade. It is therefore difficult for the weeds to grow in this climate. This will help grow more of the big crops. You also don’t have to waste the time to kill the weeds.

5. Recreational Activity: It will serve as a recreational activity to have a Shade Garden. There are a number of shade-loving plants and vegetables that are attractive when they grow. You can spend some quality time after a stressful day.

These are some of the Shade Garden Benefits you’ll enjoy in your backyard when you start one. You can also check the reference below to learn more about Kitchen Garden’s Growing Shade Plants.

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Urban Farming

Urban Farming with Kids: Seeking Simplicity Through Seeds, Chicks, and More

n the Northwest, it’s fairly common to see chickens clucking away happily in backyard coops, or to hear the term “urban farming” tossed around by friends and neighbors. More families are taking a back-to-the-basics approach when it comes to living simply — and they’re realizing that this DIY lifestyle has much to offer their children.

In her book, Your Farm in the City, Lisa Taylor of the gardening organization Seattle Tilth defines urban farming as “resourceful food gardening in a city setting,” and describes “farmers” as those who are “nobly growing food for themselves.”

Add in the fact that families want more control over what they eat, are trying to save money, be eco-friendly and connect their kids with nature, and it starts to make sense why urban farms are sprouting up in all corners of the city and show no sign of stopping.

In the past decade alone, Seattle Tilth has grown from offering two chicken workshops to 17, with an average of 20 attendees at each class. Its chicken coop tour, which once hosted 100 guests, now boasts 800. What’s more, Seattle’s Garden Hotline jumped from receiving 300 calls in 2000 to 992 in 2011.

To keep up with the interest in urban farming over the past five years, Seattle Tilth has added a new animal each year to its urban livestock classes. The classes now include chickens, goats, honeybees, ducks and rabbits.https://43bbacc21d2d4351da95e2da96da4420.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

With years of experience as a Seattle Tilth program manager for children’s education and as a home gardener, Taylor offers this advice for families looking to join the green trend: “Most urban farms don’t happen in one season. Be realistic about your time and know-how,” she says. “Start slow and then add more features or garden spaces. This way, tending your garden and farm becomes part of your lifestyle.”

Annette Cottrell, coauthor of The Urban Farm Handbook, echoes this notion. Urban farming can be as easy as shopping locally and having a vegetable garden, or as complex as keeping chickens and bees, she says. “Start with a container or small garden and local, seasonal fare — if it inspires you to do more, then go for it.”

Urban farming in a bad economy

For Seattle mother Traci Fontyn, urban farming offered a simple solution to the recession. “We began to assess our lifestyle and find ways to save money,” she says. “In came coupon clipping, planting a garden to save on produce cost, preserving food and getting a small flock of hens.”

Before long, the Fontyns’ new routine became less about money and more about lifestyle. “It feels good feeding your family nutritious food that you actually grow,” she says. “It has also brought our family together. We enjoy being outside in our yard during the summer, tending to our garden and our animals.”

Claiming that they “caught the bug” after tackling chickens, the Fontyn family now includes goats, chickens, an organic garden and a bee colony. “There is an educational value as well as value in the memories you are creating together as a family,” she says. “My son could read about this in a book instead of experiencing it, but that lacks the value of a precious memory and real life experience.”https://43bbacc21d2d4351da95e2da96da4420.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Urban farming’s benefits for teens

Taylor and Cottrell note that urban farming’s benefits can be especially inspiring for teens. “They’re seeking opportunities to populate the adult world and take on more advanced roles,” Taylor says. “Working in the garden and other big projects that require detail and finesse are great for that.”

Taylor recommends giving teens hands-on chores that will help them in the future, including using real tools or teaching them how to maintain equipment, such as wheelbarrows.

Urban farming can also teach teens about food consciousness and healthy eating habits, Cottrell says. “By getting them vested in their food — from choosing seeds to choosing chicks — they learn how their choices affect the planet and their bodies. They learn what good food tastes like and they become connected with it.”

Taylor’s 12-year-old son, Alwyn, loves preparing garden-fresh meals; his favorite dishes include garden burritos wrapped with sorrel leaves and massaged-kale salad. “Growing your own food can be a real eye-opening experience,” Taylor explains. “Many teens have no experience with whole food. What they eat comes from a store shelf, often in a package.”Urban farming with kids

Changing the urban landscape

If you ask 17-year-old Nina Finley about her 300-square-meter Seattle farm, she’ll mention the gorgeous view of the downtown skyline; how she can hear the rumble of nearby traffic; her show rabbit, Coalslaw, her five chickens and three ducks, of course; and how this backyard plot has been a place of refuge for her for nearly a decade.https://43bbacc21d2d4351da95e2da96da4420.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

While attending the county fair at age 9, Finley realized she wanted to be a farmer. “The instant I walked into the 4-H club’s livestock barn, I was home,” she says. Finley didn’t waste time reaching for her goals — she began drawing blueprints for her future farm, reading books about caring for farm animals and joined the Snohomish 4-H club, Wild ’n’ Woolies.

In 2011, Finley and her mother founded their own urban farming 4-H club, Cooped Up in Seattle. Celebrating its first anniversary this year, the club features 30 regular members (ages 5–19), with monthly meetings, community service options, its own poultry show and much more.

“4-H helps kids develop life skills by tapping into the energy and excitement they feel for their projects,” Finley says. “We learn how to make cheese, preserve vegetables; kids give public presentations or run for a club office and lead their peers.”

Today, Finley has fine-tuned her career aspirations. She’s applying to colleges that specialize in animal science and veterinary programs for large animals. “I couldn’t help but think, I could be working with large animals for a living! I could influence industrial agriculture, help cure mastitis or be educating subsistence through Heifer International. I realized how much sense a veterinary degree would make for me.”

Jen Betterley, ParentMap’s web editor, is excited to add two baby chicks to her own urban farm this year.


7 Great Ways to Get Teens Into Urban Farming

1. Plant a garden filled with herbs, salad plants and flowers with your teen, then harvest what you grow.

2. Involve teens in planning what you will grow in the garden or what breeds of animal you will raise.

3. Involve teens in more difficult jobs such as pruning, picking out seedlings or using power tools to build a worm bin or chicken coop.

4. Invite teens to cook a dish using food from the garden.

5. Join a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) group and participate in farm activities.

6. Volunteer with your teen for a work party in a school or community garden.

7. Shop at a farmers market or farm stand; try new vegetables and fruit.

Categories
Urban Farming

Urban Agriculture Increases Food Security for Poor People in Africa

Urban agriculture is helping poor people cope with food scarcity and hunger. Growing crops or raising livestock in backyards or on undeveloped plots of land improves food sources and offers many urban poor a viable income. And this type of agriculture is also being practiced in new ways in an increasing variety of locations, and often by the poorest of the poor.

TRENDS IN URBANIZATION AND URBAN AGRICULTURE

Sub-Saharan Africa’s annual urban growth rate is 3.6 percent, almost double the world average.1 With high levels of rural-to-urban migration, many now-urban residents hold on to their agricultural heritage through urban agriculture. In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, urban gardens in some communities resemble those found in the rural areas of Tanzania from which migrants emigrated. An urban garden might resemble a traditional garden made by the Haya ethnic group from northwestern Tanzania—a garden close to the house that includes bananas mixed with coffee or other fruit trees.2

Many urban dwellers tend home-based gardens primarily for household food. In Lusaka, Zambia, over half of residents practice urban agriculture to grow their own food.3 In other regions such as Kampala, Uganda, and Yaounde, Cameroon, many urban households raise livestock including poultry, dairy cattle, and pigs.4

On the edges of cities, large commercial plots are being created on undeveloped land. Within cities, small plots are located along roadsides and rivers, under power lines, and on land occupied by educational and administrative institutions.5 Because these locations are quite visible, farmers are more vulnerable to eviction, especially in places like Dar es Salaam, where growing crops within 14 meters of roads or within 15 meters of riverbanks is illegal.6 But landowners do sometimes accommodate farmers: A railroad company in Dar es Salaam long ago gave urban residents permission to plant crops on unused land. Yet after 30 years, the railroad unexpectedly sold part of the cultivated land to a private investor, taking that land away from the farmers and calling into question the future of the rest of that plot.7

FOOD SECURITY AND INCOME

Food security means that safe and nutritious food is consistently available, accessible, and reasonably priced. Urban agriculture improves food security by providing healthy and plentiful substitutes for purchased food, especially for poor households. Households that practice urban agriculture are also more likely to have access to a wider variety of nutritious foods such as vegetables and animal products. In Kampala, Uganda, urban agriculture has been linked with improved nutritional status in children.8

Urban agriculture can also provide people with a primary or supplemental income. Income from urban agriculture is particularly high in many African cities. In Bamako, Mali, and Dar es Salaam, the economic return to urban farmers has been estimated to be comparable to the income of unskilled construction workers.9 And in some areas, urban farming can be even more lucrative. For example, during the dry season in Yaounde, Cameroon, farmers using wastewater irrigation can sell vegetables at more than double the wet-season price, and urban agriculture incomes were estimated to be 50 percent above minimum wage.10

BENEFITS FOR TRANSPORTATION AND URBAN WASTE

Collective benefits from urban agriculture include solving transportation problems and converting urban waste into fertilizer. Cities have more fresh produce and fewer perishable agricultural products coming from rural areas. For example, in Cameroon, almost all the leafy vegetables consumed by poor urban residents in Yaounde are grown in the valleys surrounding the city.

Livestock in Yaounde produce more than 20,000 tons of manure per year, two-thirds of which is used as fertilizer by farms. These locally available farm “inputs” reduce the need for purchasing more-expensive commercial supplements.

URBAN AGRICULTURE’S POLICY CHALLENGES

Although many poor households benefit from urban agriculture, land cultivation and livestock production are actually illegal in many cities. Often, land cultivation is ignored by officials, although land tenure remains a major challenge for urban farmers. As illustrated by the Dar es Salaam railroad example, urban agriculture often occurs on “unused” land. Farmers lack legal rights and thus have less incentive to make costly improvements. For example, instead of installing costly irrigation, farmers often use wastewater irrigation that, if polluted, can pose health risks to consumers.

Urban livestock production raises different concerns. In Dar es Salaam, the government is worried about transmission of tetanus from livestock waste, improper disposal of animal corpses, and chemical contamination from the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides. To address these issues, policies must specify the permissible numbers of livestock in specific locations based on human population density and animal type.11

Given the potential benefits of urban agriculture, government policies for urban planning need to address land tenure for farmers and provide access to clean irrigation water, while also protecting public health.


Categories
Urban Farming

Urban Agriculture & Benefits of Growing Your Own Food

Food is one of the fundamentals of life, and millions of people around the world, including developed countries, are really starting to understand the importance of food. Hence, there is an increase trend towards urban gardening, urban farming, and growing food in the urban areas. Growing your own food gives you security, power and dignity because you grew the food yourself, and you know exactly what is in your food. You are able to grow food in your backyard or kitchen garden, have an indoor garden where ever you have some additional space indoors, and also start your own indoor miniature aquaponic system.

Apart from enjoying your own home-grown food, there are several other advantages of growing food in your own home garden. It would surely take the pressure off of your grocery bills, ease the pressure on agriculture and also help reduce ecological impacts and climatic changes. We are going to discuss some of the benefits of urban agriculture in this post.

Feeding the world

fruit-428057_1280

It’s estimated that by 2050 the world population will reach 9.6 billion (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and 80% of the world’s population will reside in the urban areas. This would also mean that a 20% increase in farmland will be needed to support the growing population (The Vertical Farm — Feeding the World in the 21st Century – with Dickson Despommier). This massive shift towards urbanization will put huge pressure on farmlands and agricultural lands around the world to meet the growing demand for food. In many cases, agricultural techniques have to be improved so that a single piece of land can be used to grow several types of food all year long, and techniques to increase yield at harvest time.

With traditional farming techniques, large amounts of land and resources are needed for growing crops and raising livestock such as cows, goats and sheep. A huge amount of energy and resources are also required to feed and irrigate the crops and also to keep them free from diseases and well maintained. The biggest problem that the farmers are going to face in meeting the increasing food demand will be finding enough land to grow crops and to use for raising animals. Where is that extra land going to come from to feed the increasing people in the world? This is where urban gardening could become a solution.

Vertical farming

roof-garden-457947_1280

Vertical farming means using a building or tower to grown your food, and any building could be used to grown food in it. Any building that has space around it, inside it or above it; a roof garden could be used for farming. The simple concept of vertical farming would be to stack plant growing trays on top of one another so that it doesn’t occupy much space but the water from one tray could be re-circulated to another, minimizing water and space requirements.

With a vertical system, you are growing more crops in a smaller area by going upwards into the building. Instead of having a single layer of crops, you are able to use different floors of a building. A whole multi-storied building could be used for farming and each floor of the building used for growing a different type of crop. Growing plants in a building indoors has an ecological system of its own. Besides using pots for growing plants indoors, towers and aquaponic systems could also be used.

Using an aquaponic system could mean growing plants in several trays in a soil-less system along with fish in a fish tank so that you use the waste from your fish tank as fertilizer for your plant. With an attractive aquaponic system you are able to place your system anywhere in the house.

People often find it attractive to have an aquaponic system in their living room, bedroom or kitchen which produces vegetables, fish and also purifies the air at the same time, by supplying plenty of oxygen into the air. The only input you’ll need is your equipment, fish and plants when you start your system, and you’ll need to feed your fish. The re-circulating system automatically feeds the plants from the waste of the fish tank, and feeds the fish from the waste of plants.

Economic and environmental benefits

garden-509550_1280

Urban agriculture, including raising fish and livestock, could be a useful tool for meeting the demand for food in the local area that you live in. So, you are able to save on your groceries as well as make some extra cash while doing it. It also improves the quality of air in your home and in your neighborhood. Imagine if you had your whole neighborhood involved in urban farming? You could be producing more food to support yourselves and also have a lot greener neighborhood. Gardens on rooftops, in backyards, and indoors would make a big difference.

Studies have shown that urban agriculture can contribute to social, health, economic, and ecological benefits. Urban agriculture is also a practical solution to give communities more choice with food while improving the air quality and reducing the green house gases, carbon emission and pollution associated with food transportation.

To sum it all up – urban farming allows individuals or groups to establish gardens or mini-farms on small plots, using creative techniques and minimum resources to maximize output, meet your own needs as well as local needs for food, help make efficient use of the land and resources, and all while improving the air quality of the environment.

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Urban Farming

5 Weeds You Want in your Garden

The Benefits of Garden Weeds

Recently, I wrote about the benefits of weeds. (See: When Weeds are Good.) I used to be so frustrated by weeds until I learned about their benefits. Now, I’m a much happier gardener!

Here are some of the things beneficial garden weeds do for us:

1: Weeds protect soil.

Weeds are fast growing, so they can quickly cover bare ground to protect it. Their roots hold soil together and keep it from eroding away in the wind or rain. Their presence can indicate the need for mulch to protect soil, i.e. more mulch can often mean fewer weeds.

See: Mulching in the Permaculture Garden

2: Weeds may fertilize soil.

Many weeds are said to accumulate vital nutrients from the subsoil and bring the nutrients into their leaves. As the weed leaves die back, they make a healing medicine (fertilizer) for damaged topsoil.

Their presence can indicate the need to enrich your soil with amendments such as worm castings or compost. That’s because each time you harvest vegetables, you extract nutrients from the soil.

Read more about making your own worm castings and building a compost bin.

3: Weeds condition soil.

Decaying roots—especially deep taproots—add organic matter to the soil. They provide channels for rain and air to penetrate. Decaying roots also create tunnels for worms and other beneficial soil microbes. They help improve the no-till garden.

See: Transitioning to a No-Till Garden

4: Weeds attract beneficial insects.

Weeds are usually quick to sprout, yet short-lived. For this reason, they flower frequently in order to set seed for the next generation. The flowering and their dense foliage can attract beneficial insects looking for habitat or nectar.A bowl of dandelion greens harvested from a garden.

Dandelion greens are a nutritious superfood.

How I Chose the following Top 5 Garden Weeds

It was a challenge to narrow this list down to just five beneficial weeds, because there are so many plants that can benefit the garden and reduce maintenance!

However, for this article, I focused on some common weeds that fill two important roles:

#1: They are said to accumulate nutrients. Although there isn’t a ton of research on this subject, I think it helps to have the mindset that nature knows what it’s doing and is sending plants to the rescue!

If these weeds do, in fact, accumulate nutrients, then it would reduce the amount of time and money I need to dedicate to fertilizer. The presence of these weeds may indicate exactly what nutrients my soil is lacking.

#2: They attract beneficial insects. This reduces the amount of time and money I must dedicate to battling pests.

By fertilizing and reducing pest populations, these weeds increase the productivity of my gardens.

On top of that, these weeds have medicinal properties and are nutritious edibles. Many of them would make excellent healing oils or herbal salves. I’ve indicated medicinal properties below.

Would you like to learn more about improving the biodiversity of your garden, reducing maintenance, and increasing yield?

You’ll find loads of information just like this in my award-winning book, The Suburban Micro-Farm.

The Suburban Micro-Farm Book

Top 5 Garden Weeds

1. Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major)

Brought into North America by colonists, plantain often pops up where soil is compacted.

  • Nutrient Accumulator: Plantain is said to accumulate calcium, sulfur, magnesium, manganese, iron, and silicon.
  • Plantain has edible and medicinal properties.

How to use plantain in the garden:

Plantain benefits the soil if left to grow and die back on its own. For a tidier garden, cut the leaves back monthly and tuck them under the mulch, or lay them on top of the soil to naturally decompose.

Leave the roots intact—the plant will either regrow, or the roots will decay, enriching the soil and attracting beneficial soil organisms.Broadleaf plantain: A common garden weed.

Broadleaf plantain

Photo by F.D. Richards via Flickrhttps://c95bd83a2986375b8f342a8c1f56c1fd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

2. Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed shows up in disturbed soil such as garden beds and highly tilled areas, indicating low fertility.

  • Nutrient Accumulator: Chickweed is said to accumulate potassium and phosphorus.
  • Beneficial Insects: Chickweed attracts pollinators searching for nectar in the spring and early summer.
  • Chickweed has edible, lettuce-like greens and medicinal properties

How to use Chickweed in the garden:

Chickweed will benefit the soil if left to grow and die back on its own. For a tidier garden, cut the plants back monthly and tuck them under the mulch, or lay them on top of the soil to naturally decompose.

Leave the roots intact—the plant will either regrow, or the roots will decay, enriching the soil and attracting beneficial soil organisms. Note: Cutting it back will reduce its availability to pollinators.

Plantain and chickweed are both on my list of wild herbs to grow in my backyard pharmacy.Common chickweed: A common garden weed.

common chickweed

Photo by Simon via Flickrhttps://c95bd83a2986375b8f342a8c1f56c1fd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

3. Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album)

The presence of lamb’s quarters is common in old farm fields, where chemical fertilizers were used in excess. Over time, these “weeds” will improve the  soil quality.

  • Nutrient Accumulator: Lamb’s quarters’ deep roots are said to accumulate nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and manganese while loosening the soil.
  • Highly nutritious edible properties when found growing in safe environments. The leaves go for a high price to local chefs.

How to use lamb’s quarters in the garden:

Lamb’s quarters will benefit the soil if left to grow and die back on their own. However, one plant can set over 75,000 seeds!

For a tidier garden, cut the plants back monthly so they can’t flower, and tuck them under the mulch, or lay them on top of the soil to naturally decompose.

Leave the roots intact—the plant will either regrow, or the roots will decay, enriching the soil and attracting beneficial soil organisms.Lamb's quarters: A common garden weed.

Lamb’s quarters

Photo by Wendell Smith via Flickrhttps://c95bd83a2986375b8f342a8c1f56c1fd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

4. White Clover (Trifolium repens)

White clover voluntarily shows up in nitrogen-lacking, dry fields and lawns that cover hardpan clay soil. Lawns where grass clippings are routinely carted away over time become lacking in nitrogen.

  • Nitrogen fixer: Nitrogen is necessary for plant growth, and clover can help transfer airborne nitrogen into the soil to be used by neighboring crops.
  • Nutrient Accumulator: Clover is said to accumulate phosphorus.
  • Beneficial insects: Clover attracts ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, and pollinators looking for nectar. It provides shelter for parasitoid wasps, spiders, and ground beetles. Clover is a preferred egg-laying site for lacewings.
  • White clover has edible flowers.

How to use White Clover in the garden:

Permanent Ground Cover:

White clover is often used as a permanent ground cover in orchard areas. It covers and protects soil and the shallow fruit tree roots. In the vegetable garden, white clover is often used in pathways, fertilizing nearby garden soil.

Here are the seeds I purchase for seeding in garden paths.

When white clover voluntarily appears in my vegetable garden, I allow it to remain in the spaces between plants. Since it voluntarily shows up in areas that are low in nitrogen, I trust that it is needed there. Prune it away from individual plants so that it doesn’t smother them.White clover: A common garden weed.

White Clover

Photo by Hideyuki KAMON via Flickrhttps://c95bd83a2986375b8f342a8c1f56c1fd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

5. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion is one of the most common and arguably the most beneficial of all weeds. It often shows up in hard-pan clay soils, whether in gardens, old fields, or lawns.

  • Nutrient Accumulator: Dandelion’s deep roots are said to accumulate potassium, phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and silicon while loosening the soil.
  • Beneficial insects: Dandelion attracts ladybugs and pollinators looking for nectar. It also attracts parasitoid wasps and lacewings.
  • Dandelion has edible leaves, roots, and flowers with highly medicinal properties. In fact, it’s one of my favorite herbs for the medicine garden. (Yes, some people plant it on purpose!) I bought these seeds.

How to use dandelion in the garden:

Dandelion will benefit the soil if left to grow and die back on its own. However, one flower seed head can set over 100 seeds!

For a tidier garden, cut the leaves back monthly and tuck them under the mulch, or lay them on top of the soil to naturally decompose. Leave the roots intact—the plant will either regrow, or the roots will decay, enriching the soil and attracting beneficial soil organisms.

Note: Cutting them back will reduce their availability to beneficial insects.Dandelion: A common garden weed

Dandelion

Photo by Toshiyuki IMAI via Flickrhttps://c95bd83a2986375b8f342a8c1f56c1fd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Beyond these Five Garden Weeds

Weeds are nature’s way of healing itself. If you have a garden weed that isn’t listed here, check out the book Weeds – Guardians of the Soil by Joseph Cocannouer.

Consider the root structure of the weed in question: Are they shallow roots and grow thickly on the ground? Perhaps their role is to hold the soil in place to prevent wind and water erosion. Mulching might help to reduce their presence.

Do the weeds have deep taproots? Perhaps their role is to loosen and enrich soil, much like comfrey fertilizer. Adding organic matter and using a digging fork to loosen soil might help.

Note: Some weeds — like poison ivy — are better eradicated from garden areas, even if they perform important ecological functions.

READ NEXT:

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Urban Farming

Vegetable growing and backyard chickens: Gardening, farming booms during coronavirus pandemic

As people pick up new hobbies while they remain in self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in gardening and farming is experiencing a boom among Americans. 

Developing a green thumb is a way to pass the time for some people, but others are using it as a way to attempt to make sure they have access to fresh food after panic buying led to shortages in grocery stores. In addition to emptying shelves of seeds and gardening tools, Americans are also buying animals, particularly chickens, to produce a steady influx of eggs. 

It’s no coincidence that the interest in chickens comes at a time when supermarkets in the country, particularly in the northeast, are experiencing a shortage of eggs. Regionwide, egg retailers’ orders from wholesalers have increased by anywhere from double to 600%, and supply can’t immediately be increased, Brian Moscogiuri, marketing director for the commodity market monitoring firm Urner Barry, told USA TODAY. 

Across social media, plant lovers are sharing the works in progress and landscape projects taking place at their homes.

Nicole Burke owns a garden installment business in Houston, where she’s seen a surge in customers ready to put their green thumb to the test.

“We’ve doubled our install orders for this month,” said Burke, owner of Rooted Garden. In 2017, Burke started Gardenary, a website that coaches users on beginning their own gardens.

“Our hits have almost doubled in the last week,” Burke told USA TODAY. “I can tell a lot of people are searching for help gardening.”

A gardener setting a plant.

Gardening for beginners 

Rebecca Broom from Madison, Mississippi, decided to take one of Burke’s online tutorials to get started with her garden. 

“I feel that our personal gardens can help fill in should we have shortages for things like fresh lettuces, tomatoes and other vegetables that can help sustain us,” said Broom. 

Farms such as Soul Fire Farm, have also seen an increase in members interested in installing their own home gardens. The farm, located in Grafton, New York, helps people in the community build their own gardens, installing an average of 10 gardens per year. The farm already has 50 people signed up for garden installation services for 2020, according to the farm’s manager Leah Penniman.

Stuck inside? Tips for indoor gardening to bring green to your space while quarantined

Interest in gardening has increased as people look to pass the time with new hobbies and to be more self-reliant after recent panic buying that led to short-term food shortages.

“This climate of uncertainty is leading people to want to take their food security into their own hands,” Penniman said. 

Chickens for backyards

Todd Larsen, executive co-director for the nonprofit organization Green America, said that he’s seen an increase in people interested in buying chickens for their backyards.

“There has been a run on chickens because people would like to have their own access to eggs,” Larsen said. https://ccea1fb637663f7cabbc66d97a532629.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Larsen recommended that, before deciding to buy chickens, homeowners should confirm if their municipality allows residents to own backyard chickens.

“The further you get from an urban environment, the more lenient it gets,” Larsen explained. He added that, if someone finds themselves in a suburban area that restricts the ownership of chickens, residents can reach out to members of their city or town council to revisit the code. https://ccea1fb637663f7cabbc66d97a532629.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Farm supply store Agway is selling out of chicks as residents in the area take up farming. Debbie Milling, manager at Agway in Liberty, New York, said the hatcheries where the store usually obtains its chicks are having trouble keeping up with demand. 

“Sales have been extremely heavy,” said Milling. “As we go to reorder, we find out some breeds are sold out already.” Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.

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With growing concerns about food shortages, Jazmine Peoples from Stafford, Virginia, decided to buy six chickens during the first week of March. 

“We wanted to get enough production that we can supply ourselves with eggs because that’s something we noticed a lack of the last time we went to the grocery store,” Peoples said. “Right now we’re just sticking with chickens, but eventually down the road we might be getting something else.” 

Lowe’s home improvement stores also has seen a jump in sales when it comes to gardening products, Lowe’s president and CEO Marvin Ellison told USA TODAY in a recent interview.

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Ellison sees the increased interest in gardening as a positive way to combat the COVID-19 virus.

“If we can keep a customer busy in their yard,” Ellison told USA TODAY.  “It keeps them at home and not somewhere else.”

After Angela Elliston, 22,  a student at the University of Puerto Rico began taking her classes online, she has more time on her hands and is focusing on her home garden, which includes herbs like basil and cilantro. 

“Being in quarantine makes you sit down and practice simple living,” says Elliston. “You realize that these little tasks are fulfilling.”

Follow Coral Murphy on Twitter @CoralMerfi.

Contributing: Michelle Maltais and Kelly Tyko. 

Categories
Urban Farming

An Eco-Friendly Garden Backyard – Green Gardening

When I came across this article on an eco-friendly garden by James Paul, I thought the author was saying what I have felt. Our gardens can be a positive force for good in the general environment as well as a place of relaxation and enjoyment.

Eco-Friendly Garden Backyard

Imagine a healthy, green backyard garden: perfect for lounging, great for ball games and barbecues, a real asset to your home. But did you know that your bakyard garden, and how you take care of it, can also help the environment?

Healthy grass provides feeding ground for birds, who find it a rich source of insects, worms, and other food. Thick grass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rainwater, and absorbs many types of airborne pollutants, like dust and soot. Grass is also highly efficient at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process that helps clean the air.

Caring for your bakyard garden properly can both enhance its appearance and contribute to its environmental benefits.

Your backyard garden can be tough but you don’t have to be an expert to grow a healthy backyard garden. Just keep in mind that the secret is to work with nature. This means creating conditions for grass to thrive and resist damage from weeds, disease, and insect pests.

It means setting realistic goals for your backyard garden, whether you or a professional garden or lawn care service will be doing the work. And if you choose to use pesticides, it means using them with care so as to get the most benefit and reduce any risks.

Organic Gardening

Let’s talk a little about organic gardening. We will discuss the term “Organic” in a gardening context, it might be a useful start to define exactly what that means, so here it is, “Organic gardening is the way of growing vegetables and fruits with the use of things only found in nature”. Really simple isn’t it, but most certainly not commonplace any more in today’s world I suggest.

Having led up to all of that, a good question might arise as to exactly why you would want to indulge in organic gardening as such! Well, as the title of this articles suggests, here are six good reasons why you should do so, in my opinion at any rate.

I think the author is pointing out that not only can you help the environment generally but you help yourself by growing organically or at least with reduced chemical inputs to your garden

  1. You can easily make compost from garden and kitchen waste, alhough this is a bit more time consuming than buying prepared chemical pesticides and fertilizers. However it certainly helps to put garbage to good use, and so helps the environment.
  2. Organic farming does not use chemicals that may have an adverse affect on your health, which is especially important when growing vegetables. The chemical companies do tell us that the chemicals we use are safe, provided that they are used according to direction. Research has shown however that even tiny amounts of poisons absorbed through the skin can cause such things as cancer, especially in children. Quite a sobering thought is it not! On average, a child ingests four to five times more cancer-causing pesticides from foods than an adult, which could lead to various diseases later on in the child’s life. Remember, pesticides contain toxins that have only one purpose, which is to kill living things! With organic gardening, these incidents are lessened.
  3. Less harm is caused to the environment, because poisons are not washed into our waterways to give but one example, causing death to the native fish and polluting their habitat in most cases.
  4. Organic farming practices also help prevent the loss of topsoil through erosion. The Soil Conservation Service says that an estimated 30 – 32 billion tons of soil is eroded from United States farmlands every year, and that’s only one country.
  5. Cost savings, because you do not need to buy costly chemical fertilizers and pesticides with organic gardening. Many organic recipes for the control of pest and disease come straight from the kitchen cupboard, and sometimes other plants can even be grown as companions to the main crop. One example of this is the marigold, which helps to repel aphids from vegetables.Mixing 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap, and 1 cup of cooking oil, can make a cheap garden pest spray for example. Put 3 tablespoons of this mixture in 1 quart of water and spray on to your plants. You will find this to be very effective!
  6. A simple mulch of pine needles will help to suppress the growth of weeds, as well as keeping the moisture in. Another simple and much safer solution!
  7. Organic gardening practices are much more likely to help keep the environment safe for future generations, and all of us who are responsible citizens, should always bear this in mind

The whole subject which is part of an on going worldwide debate, is far too complex to cover in such a short article, but I do hope that at least I have left you with some food for thought.Imagine the overall benefits to be had in our environment, by many people undertaking even some small changes.

Caring for your backyard garden in an environmentally sensible way can have a bigger impact than you might think. Your eco-friendly garden is only a small piece of land, but all the gardens across the country cover a lot of ground.

That means you and your eco-friendly garden care activities, along with everyone else’s, can make a difference to the environment. And that’s why taking care of the environment begins in our own backyards.

Categories
Urban Farming

Farming – Agriculture

Farming is the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock. Agriculture considered as an occupation or way of life.

Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants and fungi for food, fiber, biofuelmedicinal plants and other products used to sustain and enhance human life. Agriculture can also refer to the federal department that administers programs created in 1862 that provides services to farmers including research and soil conservation and efforts to stabilize the farming economyFarming Technology – Buying a Farm – Organic – GMO.

Farm Fields

Farmer is a person who operates a farm and is engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field cropsorchardsvineyardspoultry, or other livestock. Farmer is sometimes also called an agriculturer.

Tips – Trade – Farming Statistics – Diseases – Pesticide Warnings – Factory Farms

Farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food productionHerbivore or Omnivore?

Agrarian Society is any community whose economy is based on producing and maintaining crops and farmland. Another way to define an agrarian society is by seeing how much of a nation’s total production is in agriculture.

Everyone should know how to Grow and Harvest Food. Even if you grow food on a small scale, like in a small backyard garden or on your windowsill, the benefits are numerous. Not only does growing your own food provide you with healthy nutrition, you can also learn several subjects at the same time, like sciencemathengineeringbiologybotanychemistrysoil healthwater usetime managementtastesmellawarenessfocus and disciplinespatial skillsBody skillslove and sharing.

Produce is a group of farm-produced crops and goods, including fruits and vegetables – meats, grains, oats, etc. are also sometimes considered produce.

Orchard is an intentional planting of trees or shrubs that is maintained for food production. Orchards comprise fruit- or nut-producing trees which are generally grown for commercial production.

Vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice. The science, practice and study of vineyard production is known as viticulture.

Share-Cropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. Sharecropping has a long history and there are a wide range of different situations and types of agreements that have used a form of the system. Share-Farming makes use of agricultural assets they do not own in return for some percentage of the profits. Worker Coop.

In a Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (1787) – “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.”

Each week, around 330 farm families leave their land for good. We must stop this exodus and do what ever we can to turn this around, our lives, and our future lives, depend on it. 47 Million in Americans don’t have Food Security.

City Farming – Grow Beds – Container Gardens – Community Gardens – Small Town Farming.

Soil Testing – Fertilizers – Pesticides – Water Safety

Vertical Farming – Grow Lights – Micro-Greens

Hydroponics – Aquaponics – Areoponics – Green Houses

Permaculture (Food Forests) – Edible Landscapes

Organic – Responsibly Grown – Diseases

Dry Land Farming – Draught – Sensors

Breeding – Grafting – Intercropping

Sustainability – Food Security – Food Safety – GMO

Seeds – Bees – Nutrition

Pick Your Own Food Farms – Connecticut – Pick your Own – Farm Fresh Ri – Food Preserving.

Agroecology is the study of ecological processes applied to agricultural production systems. The prefix agro- refers to agriculture. Bringing ecological principles to bear in agroecosystems can suggest novel management approaches that would not otherwise be considered. The term is often used imprecisely and may refer to “a science, a movement, [or] a practice”. Agroecologists study a variety of agroecosystems, and the field of agroecology is not associated with any one particular method of farming, whether it be organic, integrated, or conventional; intensive or extensive. Although it has much more common thinking and principles with some of the before mentioned farming systems. Sustainable Farming – Landscaping.

Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with the art, science, technology, and business of growing plants. It includes the cultivation of medicinal plants, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, sprouts, mushrooms, algae, flowers, seaweeds and non-food crops such as grass and ornamental trees and plants. It also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, landscape and garden design, construction, and maintenance, and arboriculture. Inside agriculture, horticulture contrasts with extensive field farming as well as animal husbandry. Horticulturists apply their knowledge, skills, and technologies used to grow intensively produced plants for human food and non-food uses and for personal or social needs. Their work involves plant propagation and cultivation with the aim of improving plant growth, yields, quality, nutritional value, and resistance to insects, diseases, and environmental stresses. They work as gardeners, growers, therapists, designers, and technical advisors in the food and non-food sectors of horticulture. Horticulture even refers to the growing of plants in a field or garden. Aquaponics.

Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation. Agronomy has come to encompass work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science. It is the application of a combination of sciences like biology, chemistry, economics, ecology, earth science, and genetics. Agronomists of today are involved with many issues, including producing food, creating healthier food, managing the environmental impact of agriculture, and extracting energy from plants. Agronomists often specialise in areas such as crop rotation, irrigation and drainage, plant breeding, plant physiology, soil classification, soil fertility, weed control, and insect and pest control. Agronomist.

Agricultural Science is a broad multidisciplinary field of biology that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. (Veterinary science, but not animal science, is often excluded from the definition.)  Agriculture is the set of activities that transform the environment for the production of animals and plants for human use. Agriculture concerns techniques, including the application of agronomic research. Agronomy is research and development related to studying and improving plant-based crops. Agricultural sciences include research and development on: Production techniques (e.g., irrigation management, recommended nitrogen inputs). Improving agricultural productivity in terms of quantity and quality (e.g., selection of drought-resistant crops and animals, development of new pesticides, yield-sensing technologies, simulation models of crop growth, in-vitro cell culture techniques). Minimizing the effects of pests (weeds, insects, pathogens, nematodes) on crop or animal production systems. Transformation of primary products into end-consumer products (e.g., production, preservation, and packaging of dairy products). Prevention and correction of adverse environmental effects (e.g., soil degradation, waste management, bioremediation). Theoretical production ecology, relating to crop production modeling. Traditional agricultural systems, sometimes termed subsistence agriculture, which feed most of the poorest people in the world. These systems are of interest as they sometimes retain a level of integration with natural ecological systems greater than that of industrial agriculture, which may be more sustainable than some modern agricultural systems. Food production and demand on a global basis, with special attention paid to the major producers, such as China, India, Brazil, the USA and the EU. Various sciences relating to agricultural resources and the environment (e.g. soil science, agroclimatology); biology of agricultural crops and animals (e.g. crop science, animal science and their included sciences, e.g. ruminant nutrition, farm animal welfare); such fields as agricultural economics and rural sociology; various disciplines encompassed in agricultural engineering. Farming Technologies and Advanced Tools.

Subsistence Agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed themselves and their families. The output is mostly for local requirements with little or no surplus trade. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to feed and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made principally with an eye toward what the family will need during the coming year, and secondarily toward market prices. Tony Waters writes: “Subsistence peasants are people who grow what they eat, build their own houses, and live without regularly making purchases in the marketplace.”

Regenerative Agriculture is an approach to food and farming systems that regenerates topsoil and increases biodiversity now and long into the future. Regenerative Agriculture improves water cycles, enhances ecosystem services, increases resilience to climate fluctuation and strengthens the health and vitality of farming and ranching communities.

Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration is a low-cost, sustainable land restoration technique used to combat poverty and hunger amongst poor subsistence farmers in developing countries by increasing food and timber production, and resilience to climate extremes. It involves the systematic regeneration and management of trees and shrubs from tree stumps, roots and seeds.

Agricultural Productivity is measured as the ratio of agricultural outputs to agricultural inputs. While individual products are usually measured by weight, their varying densities make measuring overall agricultural output difficult. Therefore, output is usually measured as the market value of final output, which excludes intermediate products such as corn feed used in the meat industry. This output value may be compared to many different types of inputs such as labour and land (yield). These are called partial measures of productivity. Agricultural productivity may also be measured by what is termed total factor productivity (TFP). This method of calculating agricultural productivity compares an index of agricultural inputs to an index of outputs. This measure of agricultural productivity was established to remedy the shortcomings of the partial measures of productivity; notably that it is often hard to identify the factors cause them to change. Changes in TFP are usually attributed to technological improvements. Farm Inputs: Land, equipment, seeds, feed, fuel, and fertilizer.

Agribusiness is the business of agricultural production. The term was coined in 1957 by Goldberg and Davis. It includes agrichemicals, breeding, crop production (farming and contract farming), distribution, farm machinery, processing, and seed supply, as well as marketing and retail sales. All agents of the food and fiber value chain and those institutions that influence it are part of the agribusiness system. Farm Policy Facts.

Agricultural Economics is an applied field of economics concerned with the application of economic theory in optimizing the production and distribution of food and fibre—a discipline known as agronomics. Agronomics was a branch of economics that specifically dealt with land usage. It focused on maximizing the crop yield while maintaining a good soil ecosystem.

Food Industry is a complex, global collective of diverse businesses that supply most of the food consumed by the world population. Only subsistence farmers, those who survive on what they grow, and hunter-gatherers can be considered outside of the scope of the modern food industry. The food Industry includes: Agriculture: raising of crops and livestock, and seafood. Manufacturing: agrichemicals, agricultural construction, farm machinery and supplies, seed, etc.. Food processing: preparation of fresh products for market, and manufacture of prepared food products. Marketing: promotion of generic products (e.g., milk board), new products, advertising, marketing campaigns, packaging, public relations, etc.. Wholesale and distribution: logistics, transportation, warehousing. Foodservice (which includes Catering). Grocery, farmers’ markets, public markets and other retailing. Regulation: local, regional, national, and international rules and regulations for food production and sale, including food quality, food security, food safety, marketing/advertising, and industry lobbying activities. Education: academic, consultancy, vocational. Research and development: food technology. Financial services: credit, insurance.

United States Department of Agriculture is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and internationally. Approximately 80% of the USDA’s $141 billion budget goes to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) program. The largest component of the FNS budget is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program), which is the cornerstone of USDA’s nutrition assistance.

Agritourism involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. Agritourism has different definitions in different parts of the world, and sometimes refers specifically to farm stays, as in Italy. Elsewhere, agritourism includes a wide variety of activities, including buying produce direct from a farm stand, navigating a corn maze, slopping hogs, picking fruit, feeding animals, or staying at a bed and breakfast (B&B) on a farm.

Intensive Farming involves various types of agriculture with higher levels of input and output per cubic unit of agricultural land area. It is characterized by a low fallow ratio, higher use of inputs such as capital and labour, and higher crop yields per cubic unit land area. This contrasts with traditional agriculture, in which the inputs per unit land are lower. The term “intensive” involves various meanings, some of which refer to organic farming methods (such as biointensive agriculture and French intensive gardening), and others that refer to nonorganic and industrial methods. Intensive animal farming involves either large numbers of animals raised on limited land, usually concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), often referred to as factory farms, or managed intensive rotational grazing (MIRG), which has both organic and non-organic types. Both increase the yields of food and fiber per acre as compared to traditional animal husbandry. In CAFO, feed is brought to the seldom-moved animals, while in MIRG the animals are repeatedly moved to fresh forage.

Extensive Farming is an agricultural production system that uses small inputs of labor, fertilizers, and capital, relative to the land area being farmed.

Food Growing Tips – Planting Tips

Crop Rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar or different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It is done so that the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. It helps in reducing soil erosion and increases soil fertility and crop yield. 4 Year Crop Rotation Plan or growing a Second Crop after First Harvest or Succession Growing? (Fall Planting) Vegetables to Grow – Frost Dates – Hardiness Zone (wiki). Days to Maturity refers to the time a seed takes to germinate and grow to maturity.

Soil Testing – Plant Maintenance – Plant Diseases

Cover Crops are beneficial in many ways. It helps lower the soil temperature which is beneficial to microbial health and they also don’t deplete or rob nutrients in the soil. Malnutrition.

Fallow is an area of land that is left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. Undeveloped or inactive, but potentially useful. No-Till Farming.

Nitrogen Fixing Crops – Clover – Alfalfa – Grass – Forage

Intercropping is a multiple cropping practice involving growing two or more crops in proximity. The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making use of resources or ecological processes that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop. Intercropping can also help to reduce pests, reduce weeds and protect the exposed soil from drying out. The plants must be symbiotic and not be competing for nutrients or water. Herbs and root plants are good plants to intercrop, as well as flowers like marigolds. Nature needs Diversity – Food Chemistry.

Inga Alley Cropping refers to planting agricultural crops between rows of Inga trees. Using the Inga tree for alley cropping has been proposed as an alternative to the much more ecologically destructive slash and burn cultivation. The technique has been found to increase yields. It is sustainable agriculture as it allows the same plot to be cultivated over and over again thus eliminating the need for burning of the rainforests to get fertile plots.

Companion Planting is the planting of different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including pest controlpollination, providing habitat for beneficial creatures, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. Companion planting is a form of Polyculture. Companion planting is used by farmers and gardeners in both industrialized and developing countries for many reasons. Many of the modern principles of companion planting were present many centuries ago in cottage gardens in England and forest gardens in Asia, and thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica. List of Companion Plants (wiki) – Insecticides that are environmentally friendly – Permaculture.

Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop, plant, or livestock species, variety, or breed in a field or farming system at a time. Polyculture, where more than one crop is grown in the same space at the same time, is the alternative to monoculture. Monoculture is widely used in both industrial farming and organic farming and has allowed increased efficiency in planting and harvest. Dangers (film) – Plant Diseases.

The Insect Apocalypse | DW Documentary (youtube) – The world’s insect population has declined by three quarters in the last 30 years and many species have become extinct. Bees – Biodiversity.

Plants that help keep Mosquitos and other unneeded Insects away are Mint (linalool), Garlic (allicin), Lavender OilVanillaBlack PepperEucalyptus (picaridin), Lemon, and even apple cider vinegar

Plant Breeding – Pruning – Grafting – Propagation

Dry Land Farming – Irrigation – Water – Pesticides

Multiple Cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in the same piece of land in same growing seasons instead of one crop. It is a form of polyculture. It can take the form of double-cropping, in which a second crop is planted after the first has been harvested, or relay cropping, in which the second crop is started amidst the first crop before it has been harvested. A related practice, companion planting, is sometimes used in gardening and intensive cultivation of vegetables and fruits. One example of multi-cropping is tomatoes + onions + marigold; the marigolds repel some tomato pests. Mixed cropping is found in many agricultural traditions. In the Garhwal Himalaya of India, a practice called baranaja involves sowing 12 or more crops on the same plot, including various types of beans, grains, and millets, and harvesting them at different times. In the cultivation of rice, multiple cropping requires effective irrigation, especially in areas with a dry season. Rain that falls during the wet season permits the cultivation of rice during that period, but during the other half of the year, water cannot be channeled into the rice fields without an irrigation system. The Green Revolution in Asia led to the development of high-yield varieties of rice, which required a substantially shorter growing season of 100 days, as opposed to traditional varieties, which needed 150 to 185 days. Due to this, multiple cropping became more prevalent in Asian countries. Second Harvest – Bumper-Crop – Bumper Crop.

Groundcover is any plant that grows over an area of ground. Groundcover provides protection of the topsoil from erosion and drought. In an ecosystem, the ground cover forms the layer of vegetation below the shrub layer known as the herbaceous layer. The most widespread ground covers are grasses of various types. In ecology, groundcover is a difficult subject to address because it is known by several different names and is classified in several different ways. The term groundcover could also be referring to “the herbaceous layer,” “regenerative layer“, “ground flora” or even “step over.” In agriculture, ground cover refers to anything that lies on top of the soil and protects it from erosion and inhibits weeds. It can be anything from a low layer of grasses to a plastic material. The term ground cover can also specifically refer to landscaping fabric which is like a breathable tarp that allows water and gas exchange. In gardening jargon, however, the term groundcover refers to plants that are used in place of weeds and improves appearance by concealing bare earth.

Black Tarps Over Cover Crops Suppress Weeds in Organic No-Till Vegetable Garden. University of New Hampshire researchers have found that using black tarps and cover crops successfully suppressed weeds in an organic vegetable system, allowing scientists to forgo tilling, which can have deleterious effects on soil.

Tarpaulin is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material, often cloth such as canvas or polyester coated with polyurethane, or made of plastics such as polyethylene. In some places such as Australia, and in military slang, a tarp may be known as a hootch. Tarpaulins often have reinforced grommets at the corners and along the sides to form attachment points for rope, allowing them to be tied down or suspended. Inexpensive modern tarpaulins are made from woven polyethylene; this material is so associated with tarpaulins that it has become colloquially known in some quarters as polytarp.

Field Borders for Agronomic, Economic and Wildlife Benefits. A field border is a band or strip of perennial vegetation established on the edge of a cropland field. A field border reduces sheet, rill, and gully erosion at the edge of fields; protects water quality by trapping sediment, chemical and other pollutants; provides a turning area for farm equipment; and provides wildlife habitat. Natural Habitat can help Farmers Control PestsHabitat Planning for Beneficial Insects. Guidelines for Conservation Biological Control. Drones (advanced tools) – Biological Pest Control.

30″ Raise Bed Rows with 18″ separators or walk ways in between each row. Plants are planted close together so that when the plants are almost full grown the leaves will be touching the other leaves of the other plants next to them, creating a natural ground cover or canopy. Soil must be deep enough without hard any layers so that the roots can grow deep enough and give the plant room to grow full size. Use a broad fork to loosen a no till soil.

Broadfork is a tool used to manually break up densely packed soil, like hardpan, to improve aeration and drainage. It consists of five or so metal tines, approximately eight inches long, spaced a few inches apart on a horizontal bar, with two handles extending upwards to chest or shoulder level, forming a large U-shape. The operator steps up on the crossbar, using full bodyweight to drive the tines into the ground, then steps backward while pulling backwards on the handles, causing the tines to lever upwards through the soil. This action leaves the soil layers intact, rather than inverting or mixing them, preserving the topsoil structure. A broadfork can be used in a garden, or practically for one to two acres (4,000 to 8,000 m²). For larger areas, a tractor- or animal-powered chisel plow or similar tool is usually employed.

Growing Season is the part of the year during which local weather conditions (i.e. rainfall and temperature) permit normal plant growth. While each plant or crop has a specific growing season that depends on its genetic adaptation, growing seasons can generally be grouped into macro-environmental classes. Extend your Gardening Season.

Succession Planting refers to several planting methods that increase crop availability during a growing season by making efficient use of space and timing. There are four basic approaches, that can also be combined: Two or more crops in succession: After one crop is harvested, another is planted in the same space. The length of the growing season, climate, and crop selection are key factors. For example, a cool season spring crop could be followed by a heat-loving summer crop. Same crop, successive plantings: Several smaller plantings are made at timed intervals, rather than all at once. The plants mature at staggered dates, establishing a continuous harvest over an extended period. Lettuce and other salad greens are common crops for this approach. Within a small garden or home garden, this method is useful in circumventing the initial large yield from the crop and rather providing a steady, smaller yield that may be consumed in its entirety. This is also known as relay planting. Two or more crops simultaneously: Non-competing crops, often with different maturity dates, are planted together in various patterns. Intercropping is one pattern approach; companion planting is a related, complementary practice. This method is also known as Interplanting: The practice of growing two types of plants in the same space. Interplanting requires a certain amount of preplanning and knowledge of the maturity dates of different types of vegetables. It has been noted that successful interplanting and intensive gardening is done in raised beds within the planting areas. Planting two or more non-competing crops may raise issues with soil-borne diseases and insects that only affect one type of plant. Depending on how close the interplanting varieties are, crop failure is a possibility. Same crop, different maturity dates: Several varieties are selected, with different maturity dates: early, main season, late. Planted at the same time, the varieties mature one after the other over the season.

Rabi Crop are agricultural crops that are sown in winter and harvested in the spring in South Asia. The term is derived from the Arabic word for “spring”, which is used in the Indian subcontinent, where it is the spring harvest (also known as the “winter crop”).

Vavilovian Mimicry is a form of mimicry in plants where a weed comes to share one or more characteristics with a domesticated plant through generations of artificial selection. Victorian Farm (youtube).

System of Rice Intensification is a methodology aimed at increasing the yield of rice produced in farming. It is a low water, labor-intensive, method that uses younger seedlings singly spaced and typically hand weeded with special tools. It was developed in 1983 by the French Jesuit Father Henri de Laulanié in Madagascar. However full testing and spread of the system throughout the rice growing regions of the world did not occur until some years later with the help of Universities like Cornell.

Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil. Reasons for applying mulch include conservation of soil moisture, improving fertility and health of the soil, reducing weed growth and enhancing the visual appeal of the area. A mulch is usually, but not exclusively, organic in nature. It may be permanent (e.g. plastic sheeting) or temporary (e.g. bark chips). It may be applied to bare soil or around existing plants. Mulches of manure or compost will be incorporated naturally into the soil by the activity of worms and other organisms. The process is used both in commercial crop production and in gardening, and when applied correctly, can dramatically improve soil productivity.

A Farmer Performs Following Eight Major Steps from Crop Selection to Harvesting: Crop Selection, Land Preparation, Seed Selection, Seed Sowing, Irrigation, Crop Growth, Fertilizing, Harvesting. Information Required by Farmers: Farmers need information at each step form crop selection to harvesting. Information required by the farmers at each of these steps is presented next. 1: Crop Selection: Comparative pricing of different crops. For some crops government releases prices of the crop at the time of seeding. Market demand and sale potential of the crop. Budget required for the cultivation of each crop. Feasibility of the crop considering climate and quality of land. Crop productivity compared with other alternatives. 2 Land Preparation: Effects of any disease from the previous cultivation and steps needed to minimize this impact. Fertilizers needed to bring land to its normal fertility depending upon the previous crops and fertilizer used. Layout and design of the field with respect to crop for efficient irrigation. Latest techniques for leveling the fields and their cost. 3 Seed Selection: Price and quantity needed per acre. Average yield and sprout to sown ratio. Suitability to particular area and climate. Water requirement. Resistance to diseases. Location of distribution offices for the seed. 4 Seed Sowing: Appropriate time to sow the seed. Optimal weather conditions at sowing time. Best method for the sowing of seeds. Seed sowing depth. 5 Irrigation: Critical time for irrigation. Amount of water to be given to the plants. Frequency of irrigation. 6 Crop Growth: Number of plants per unit of area. At times more than optimum number of seeds sprouts are planted in a given area. Farmers must reduce density for healthy growth of plants. Average growth rate of the crop in normal conditions. Comparison of crop growth rate, leaf size, crop color etc. with expected growth for given conditions and input. 7 Fertilizing: Interventions needed to maintain expected growth. Frequency, quantity and method for fertilization. Proper time, frequency and method for plowing. Proper time, frequency and method for weeding. Expected pest and virus attacks, symptoms of such attacks, precautionary measure that can be taken in advance to avoid these attacks, immediate actions including pesticide to be used to kill pests and viruses, quantity of pesticide to be used per acre, most effective method for pesticide spray, avoid health issues related to pesticide spray. 8 Harvesting: Proper time and method for harvesting. Comparative market rates. Proper crop storage. Cost of transportation.

Harvesting Principles

For harvest procedures the subsequent points are important to consider: Choosing the correct harvest time refers to both the ripeness and maturity of the produce as well as the right time of the day. Optimal harvest times for most produce is either early morning hours or the evening when temperatures are lower. Harvesting of delicate, high value produce is best done manually (especially when labor costs are low and fuel costs are high do not place produce on the ground directly, but use harvesting mats or containers/baskets instead. Considering the handling of harvested produce, the following points are important: Handling: before being put into storage, produce should be sorted and graded with regards to quality (only high quality produce should enter the storage facility) produce needs to be cleaned (with clean water in order to avoid the spread of molds and fungi) before being put into storage containers and entering the storage rooms. Dirt bears the potential of introducing pests into the storage facility time span between harvest and the placement into storage needs to be kept as short as possible. You should store only mature vegetables. Immature vegetables and fruits will rot quickly. Never store food that has been bruised or nicked. Remember not to wash your vegetables and fruits, just brush off excess dirt. Do not store fruits close to vegetables because fruits release ethylene. This speeds up the ripening of vegetables. Keep your storage area dark, but with temperatures not below freezing. Check on your vegetables every week or two to watch for spoilage. This can quickly spread to other food in close proximity. (32 Degrees F or 0 Degrees C).

Cold Storage of Agricultural Products. Control of temperature and relative humidity and the prevention of damage can increase shelflife, especially of fresh vegetables and fruits, tremendously. Biological deterioration, caused by respiration rate, ethylene production, mechanical injuries, water stress, physiological disorders and pathological breakdown, leads to decay, loss in nutritive value, and changes in color, texture and flavor. Factors influencing the rate of deterioration are temperature, the level of relative humidity, air velocity, atmospheric composition, i.e. concentration of oxygen, carbon dioxide and ethylene, as well as sanitation. Molding, pests and other spoilage reasons which lead to quality deterioration, such as loss of water, thrive under warm and humid conditions – conditions which can be commonly found in India. Most factors causing product deterioration can be addressed through temperature control, i.e. cooling. A reduction in temperature lowers rates of physiological change (respiration, ethylene production, and enzymatic processes) and slows down the growth of microorganisms (bacteria and fungi). Produce after the point of harvest is still ‘alive’ meaning that processes of the metabolism, such as respiration, as well as the activity of microorganisms remain ongoing leading to product deterioration. In order to lower respiration rates, delay ripening and to reduce water loss temperature needs to be controlled, either by avoiding the exposure of heat or by creating cooling conditions thereby increasing a product’s shelf life. Adequate storage facilities can, to a certain extent, control factors such as temperature, relative humidity and air velocity, increasing product quality, shelf-life and value. Chilling Injury. Some produce, especially of tropical origin, is sensitive to chilling, which means that it will incur physiological damages if stored at a certain time period below a certain temperature but above their freezing points. In general, the longer the time period that produce is exposed to temperature below their level of chilling sensitivity and the lower the temperature, the faster damages will occur. It should also be noted that effects can be of a cumulative nature, i.e. the time periods of storage below the level of chilling sensitivity add up even if produce is stored at optimal conditions in between. Several factors, such as the level of maturity and level of ripeness at the point of harvest can affect chilling sensitivity. Freezing Injury. Below 0°C all type of produce freezes due to dissolved soluble solids which are present in cell saps. Often, damages incurred through freezing only become visible once the produce is returned to temperatures above 0°C. Refrigeration.
Food Odor Transfers which should be avoided: apples/pears with celery, cabbage, carrots, potatoes or onions. celery with onions or carrots. Citrus with strongly scented vegetables. Pears/apples with potatoes à former acquire unpleasant taste. Green pepper will taint pineapples. onions, nuts, citrus, potatoes should be stored separately. Ethylene producing and ethylene sensitive products: Ethylene producing: e.g. apples, avocado, bananas, pears, peaches, plums, tomatoes. Ethylene sensitive produce: e.g. lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes.
Adequate airflow and the even distribution of cold air need to be ensured. It is important to note that air always takes the path where resistance is lowest, and hence partly or unevenly filled storage facilities will have poor cooling rates. The following points should be considered: A gap of at least 8 cm between walls and the floor, and the stacks of produce should be kept in order to ensure air flow. Well-ventilated storage boxes/containers/crates will improve cooling speed, such as PVC crates or ventilated boxes made of cardboard. adequate space in between storage pallets should be about 4-6 inches.

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. It is a practice described in the Hebrew Bible that became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms. Food Waste.

Gleaning Americas Farm Fields
Hidden Harvest
Hungry Harvest
National Gleaning Day
Gleaning Project
Imperfect Produce Delivered
Falling Fruit Location App

Harvesting food releases serotonin in our brain.

Farming Equipment – Software Tools

Food Preserving – Bees – Seeds

“Being a good farmer and conscience farmer makes you pay attention to life and also pay attention to the environment a lot more than usual. Farming brings you closer to nature by default. And if a farmer dose not feel connected to the land, that farmer will become more vulnerable to failures and experience mistakes more often”.

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Urban Farming

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ECO-FRIENDLY GARDENING

The following guide has been created to inform readers about the practices and principles of eco-friendly gardening as well as illustrating the most efficient and cost-effective organic gardening methods that you can adopt. In accompaniment to these helpful hints and industry exclusive insights, this guide also includes a wealth of online resources upon which you can capitalise to learn more about ecologically responsible gardening methods and their impact on local, national and global ecosystems.

The various sections that this guide will cover include:

1.AN INTRODUCTION TO ECO-FRIENDLY GARDENING

According to a recent infographic posted online by Living Green Magazine:

“A reflection of the depletion of glaciers, the Glacier National Park in Montana, United States, has fewer than twenty-seven glaciers now, in comparison to over 150 glaciers in 1910. This is a decrease of about 87% in the number of glaciers [and that] In 2004, it was reported that Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is losing about 4 inches annually because of global warming.”

These startling figures outline the global importance of combating climate change and reducing our individual carbon footprint. Indeed, in recent years there has been a broad range of ecologically responsible breakthroughs; such as affordable solar panels and biomass heating which individuals can utilise to reduce their total household energy wastage, as well as electric hybrid cars, which reduce the burning of hazardous fossil fuels for transportation purposes. However, despite these significant advancements, there are still many areas of modern life that are hazardous to the welfare of our planet.

For instance, many of the practices and tools used for modern day gardening purposes actually hinder the environment rather than support it. From synthetic fertilisers that contaminate natural soil reserves to inefficient watering systems that unnecessarily require the expenditure of more energy, all of these actions amount to a sizeable carbon footprint for each household.

Fortunately, there is a solution – eco-friendly gardening. This green philosophy is primarily focused upon reducing the carbon dioxide emissions generated by inorganic gardening purposes, and upon increasing the livelihood of the wildlife by preserving existing ecosystems.

Organic gardening combats the main concerns of climate change; ever depleting water reserves, wildlife habitat destruction, loss of diversity and chemically contaminated produce. By replacing modern gardening practices with targeted plant care resources and water conservation methods, such as rainwater butts, drip irrigation systems, utilising grey water supplies and making compost from recycled household waste, it is possible to preserve local ecosystems for their residents, plant life and wildlife within the region.

How you can make a difference

By gardening with these organic, completely natural practices in mind, you can positively impact your local plants and wildlife. If more people garden in this manner, then it may be possible to support local, national and global ecosystems for many years to come.

Although eco-gardening may require you to replace your current outdoor practices with organic gardening methods, the rewards will be plentiful. With eco-gardening, every plant, crop or outdoor structure that you maintain will be for a particular purpose. This includes growing your own fruit and vegetables to sustain yourself with fresh, organic produce that is free of pesticides, to planting trees to equip yourself with future building materials as well as a plant that will absorb excess carbon levels. Unlike modern gardening practices that often only exist for stylistic, superficial purposes, with eco-gardening you will be able to take pride in your work and create a viable, aesthetically pleasing yet practical ecosystem for future generations.

Regardless of whether you are a gardening novice or a seasoned horticulturist, whether you have a small back garden or vast acres of land, you can enjoy the benefits of eco-gardening practices. Irrespective of whether you wish to create a maintenance-free outdoor space or if you intend to spend hours cultivating the garden allotment of your dreams, by adopting the eco-friendly gardening practices that are demonstrated throughout this guide you can take pride in the fact that you are sustaining your family with natural produce and materials in addition to safeguarding your local, national and global ecosystem for the future.

2.HOW ECO-FRIENDLY GARDENING REDUCES CO2

For many years there has been a public assumption that any garden is eco-friendly because plants absorb harmful carbon dioxide emissions and give out oxygen. However, this is not the case. Unfortunately there are many processes that occur within modern gardening practices that are responsible for releasing hazardous greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If gardeners wish to pursue organic gardening and begin reducing their carbon footprint then they must first be aware of these harmful processes in order to rectify them. Consequently, this section of the guide will outline some of the most environmentally damaging aspects of modern gardening practices and highlight how eco-friendly gardening can substantially reduce their carbon dioxide emissions:

Synthetic fertilisers & manure: Although synthetic fertilisers containing nitrogen may accelerate the growth of your plants, they will have been manufactured via the Haber Bosch process; a system that depends upon converting methane from natural gas into hydrogen. Carbon dioxide emissions are a detrimental side effect of this process and as such synthetic fertiliser distribution is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, using manure as compost will also release methane into the atmosphere, thereby exacerbating the effects of global warming.

Despite the complexities of this issue, the solution is quite simple; make your own compost. Not only will making your own compost save you money and recycle your general household and garden waste, but it will also ensure your fertiliser is 100% organic and prevent harmful methane gases being emitted during the manufacturing process.

Peat-based compost: Naturally occurring peat bogs absorb a sizeable amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and prevent it from damaging our atmosphere. Unfortunately, by purchasing compost that contains peat you are depleting these natural resources and diminishing the Earth’s ability to efficiently absorb greenhouse gases. Given that approximately half of all the compost sold within Britain contains peat, you should only ever buy compost that bears a certified no-peat label on it.

Fortunately, there are many non-peat based compost products currently available that you can purchase from your local gardening stores. Out of all these products, one that reaps the best growing results is coir-based compost. Coir is a type of waste product generated whilst processing coconut fibre. Even though this coir-based compost must be shipped across the world to be used, its shipping methods create minimal levels of transportation-induced carbon dioxide emissions. As such, by swapping your peat-based compost or potting soil for coir-based alternatives you will be significantly reducing your carbon footprint as well as accelerating the growth of all your plants.

Inefficiently heated greenhouses: If you frequently heat your greenhouse, your carbon footprint will be greater than it needs to be. This is due to the fact greenhouses are very rarely fitted with double glazing and they have good ventilation to support plant growth. This lets out excessive amounts of heat. Therefore, unless you are depending upon a renewable energy source to heat your greenhouses you will be inadvertently generating excess carbon dioxide emissions.

Subsequently, you should endeavour to start growing your plant seedlings inside your heated home with full spectrum grow lights and leave your greenhouse empty over the winter. By doing so, you can utilise your household heating to support both your family and your plants; thereby saving you money and reducing your household and garden carbon dioxide emissions. For more information on eco-friendly gardening practices and biodegradable products, please visit the links provided in our Other Useful Gardening Information section at the end of this guide.

3.BEST TREES FOR REDUCING CO2

As mentioned earlier in this guide, it is universally acknowledged plants take in carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. However, you may not be aware that the total amount of carbon on our planet is constant, and that it moves and changes form with ease.

Furthermore, the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, which have been buried under the surface of the Earth for thousands of years, causes carbon to become converted into harmful carbon dioxide emissions. Once these carbon dioxide emissions enter our atmosphere, they absorb and emit infrared radiation, which contributes to global warming. Most worryingly, the current level of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet is predicted to be the highest it has ever been in the last 20 million years.

Fortunately though, scientists believe they may have found a viable long-term solution; carbon sequestration. This process involves planting trees that will absorb the planet’s excess levels of atmospheric carbon during photosynthesis. This will be stored within the tree for the entirety of its life.

Despite the fact that all living plant matter absorbs carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, trees carry out this process far more significantly than smaller plant species due to their extensive biomass, root structures and longevity. As a result, scientists often refer to them as nature’s “carbon sinks”.

Specific plant types, such as oak, pine and yellow poplar trees are particularly effective at absorbing and storing carbon. Therefore, this section will outline the best trees you can plant for reducing your carbon footprint:

Planting trees

Some of the best tree species which efficiently absorb and store carbon include; red mulberry, horse chestnut, blue spruce, pine, oak, yellow poplar, silver maple, London plane and dogwood, amongst others. Generally speaking, when planting trees to reduce carbon dioxide emissions you should adhere to the following specifications:

  • Plant trees that have large leaves and wide crowns in order to enable maximum photosynthesis to take place
  • Choose fast growing trees because trees will store the most amount of carbon possible within their first few productive years.
  • Select trees with a long life expectancy because they will store carbon within their trunks for many years without releasing carbon dioxide via decomposition
  • Choose tree types that are renowned for their low maintenance and disease resistant properties, because they will be able to withstand possible contamination from nearby pesticide products, synthetic fertilisers or inorganic gardening equipment.

Above all else, it is important to plant types of trees and plants that require minimal maintenance. Otherwise, local tree surgeons and landscapers will have to use sizeable trucks and chainsaws to maintain these trees and it is these tools that’ll pollute the air with harmful fossil fuel emissions. As Stan Wullschleger, a researcher at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, states:
“There are literally dozens of tree species that could be planted depending upon location, climate and soils.”
Therefore, as long as you plant a tree that can grow and develop within your particular region and climate then you will be aiding the environment. Feel free to browse through the Other Useful Gardening Information section of this guide to access several online resources, which will demonstrate some of the best plants and trees to plant in your area to reduce your carbon footprint.

4.FRUIT & VEGETABLES GROWING GUIDE

One of the most rewarding eco-friendly gardening practices that you can adopt is growing your own food. Not only will you benefit from a plentiful supply of fresh, organic food in your own back garden, but you will also save approximately two pounds of carbon dioxide emissions for every pound of fruit and vegetables you grown. This is due to the fact that in order to generate mass amounts of commercial produce, many farmers depend upon fossil fuel burning tractors and machinery, as well as petroleum-based fertilisers and environmentally damaging pesticides. Subsequently, by adopting organic gardening practices you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your food bills. You will also yield a return that equates to up to at least 10 times the amount of your initial investment and produce fresh, seasonal food that tastes delicious and hasn’t been damaged by harmful chemicals, herbicides and pesticides. So, if you would like to begin growing your own fruit and vegetables today, listed below is an informative growing guide to help you get started:

Choose your growing plot

Regardless of the size of your outdoor space there will be types of fruit and vegetables you can plant. Irrespective of whether you own a large plot of land, numerous allotment areas, a small back yard, several hanging baskets or some indoor plant pots, as long as your fruit and vegetable seedlings are planted in an area that receives plenty of sunlight for at least six hours a day, you will be able to successfully grow your own produce.

You will also need to take the necessary precautions to effectively protect your plant seedlings from adverse weather conditions such as high winds, frost and snow. If you intend to grow your produce indoors this will not be an issue. Otherwise it would be advisable to invest in a set of cloches, row tunnels, hoop tunnels or covering tunnels from your local gardening store. When purchasing these items, always check the label to ascertain that they have been manufactured in keeping with organic gardening standards. Alternatively, you could choose to create your own cloches by cutting old plastic bottles in half and creating holes in the half that does not have a lid attached. These cloches will protect your young seedlings and plants from cold weather conditions, as well as scavenging insects, slugs and all manner of garden pests.

Fruit and vegetable garden beds

There are a wide range of different plant diseases and soil-borne pests that can hinder your produce from growing to its maximum yield. Therefore, if you intend to grow an array of fresh produce it would be advisable to plant similar species of fruit and vegetable seedlings in one garden bed to prevent cross-contamination of these harmful pests and diseases. By doing so, you can rotate these garden beds each year to ensure all of your produce develops to its full potential.

What’s more, there are certain types of plants that, when grown in close proximity, will complement each other to boost growth and vitality. From tall plants providing shade for smaller plants more sensitive to sunlight, to certain plant species which have been scientifically proven to deter specific flying insects and soil-based pests, it is worthwhile investigating the best plant combinations for your garden. This will help to encourage the best growing results for your backyard fruit and vegetables. Listed below are some of the best plant growing combinations, as well as the types of fruit trees thriving in certain climates:

Chives and tomatoes: The onion scent that is emitted by chives will deter aphids and other insects from eating any tomatoes that are grown in close proximity. Moreover, you can rest assured that this onion scent will not permeate into your tomatoes. By growing the two plants together you can reap maximum results without hindering their taste once harvested.

Carrots and spring onions: The smell of onion plants will deter carrot root flies from being attracted to the scent of your carrot crops. The smell of carrots will also prevent different variants of flies from eating your onion plants. As a result, growing carrots and spring onions together is one of the best organic gardening combinations you can utilise to your advantage!

Roses and garlic: For many years rose plants and garlic have been grown together due to the fact that garlic is a natural rose pest repellent. What’s more, the purple and white flowers that sprout forth from garlic plants during the spring months beautifully compliment numerous rose plant varieties. Subsequently, by growing certain plant types together you can yield both practical and aesthetic gardening results.

Cucumbers, radishes and dill: If you plant dill near your cucumber plants you will actually attract beneficial predators towards your crops. These predators will eat other flying and soil-based insects that would have previously contaminated your crops. Additionally, if you plant radishes near your cucumber plants then you will reduce the likelihood of cucumber beetles being attracted to the scent of your plants.

Fruit trees: Whilst many citrus trees will thrive well in any climate and species such as mango, avocado and pawpaw trees will flourish best in warm, tropical climates, there are certain fruit trees, including kiwi, apple, cherry and peach, more suitable to the British climate. This is because they will grow best in cooler weather. Moreover, if you are low on outdoor gardening space, it is advisable that you plant multi-grafted, espalier fruit trees. These will provide you with fresh produce without taking up too much space and depriving your other plants of the essential water stores and nutrients they need to survive.

Pest deterrents: If you grow certain flowers and herbs in close proximity to your vegetable crops, you can naturally and humanely deter all manner of garden pests. For example, echinacea, chives, borage, pyrethrum daisy, basil, garlic and nasturtium are all highly effective pest deterrents. By planting these organic gardening pest deterrents you can protect your fruit and vegetable garden beds without having to depend upon harmful, chemical based pesticides. What’s more, you will also generate a plentiful supply of herbs that will beautifully complement your fresh produce once cooked!

The following sections of this guide will offer additional targeted advice and guidance on how to water and fertilise your plants using organic gardening methods. By adhering to these practices and investigating the additional plant care resources provided in the Other Useful Gardening Information section at the end of this guide, you can cultivate a bountiful, eco-friendly and highly rewarding fruit and vegetable garden for you and your family!

5.REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE

Did you know that, when at peak demand, gardening can consume up to 70% of the UK’s water supply? This huge demand for such a precious resource has led many organic gardeners to devise various reduction, re-use and recycling techniques for preserving water reserves. Many of these techniques are cost-effective and easy to carry out. Therefore, if you have been looking for ingenious ways in which to preserve your water supply and reduce unnecessary wastage, listed below are some tried and tested helpful gardening hints that you can utilise:

Use a Rainwater Butt: You can capitalise upon the vast amount of rainwater that falls in the UK each year by storing it for use in drier months. Given that at least 24,000 litres of rainwater falls each year even in the driest areas of the country, it is highly recommended that you invest in an eco-friendly plastic or terracotta rainwater butt that will hold upwards of 160 litres of rainwater. By storing this excess water during wetter periods of the year and using it when the climate is more arid, you can reduce your annual water bills, conserve vital water reserves and in so doing reduce your carbon footprint.

Reuse grey water: Even though it may not be aesthetically pleasing, reusing grey water that has been collected from your kitchen sink, showers or baths is safe to use to water your plants. All you have to do is purchase a grey water diverter from your local gardening store and this device will divert water from your home to a storage facility to be relied upon during warmer months. As long as the grey water you reuse does not contain any harmful chemical cleaning products, such as bleach or cleaning disinfectant products, it will be safe to use to revitalise your plants and soil when your alternative water stores are depleted.

Correctly water your plants: Even seasoned gardeners can fall victim to over-watering or under-watering their plants; a practice that can hinder the growth of your allotment as well as depleting your precious water stores. Fortunately, there is a simple yet highly effective solution. All you have to do is check that the soil around your plants is approximately as deep as the level of your spade and that it is damp. Only water this space if the soil feels dry. By doing so, your plants will continue to thrive and you will save water. As a rule, most plants require roughly 24 litres of water every 10 days. Sandy soils will require more water than heavy soils and clay-based soils also need less frequent watering but in larger quantities. If you remain informed of the type of soil in your garden and its unique seasonal needs, you can dispense the exact amount of water your garden needs to grow without wastage.

Water plants at the right time: It is more efficient to water your plants during the evening than throughout the day. This is due to the fact that if you water your plants in the evening then less water will evaporate and your plants will retain more of its essential oxygen and nutrients.

Invest in drought resistant plants: There are certain plants such as lavender, cacti and verbena that require far less water than others. Consequently, it is recommended that you opt for drought resistant plants in order to stylishly yet efficiently decorate and populate your garden.

Use an eco-friendly watering system: Did you know that a traditional hosepipe can expend up to 1,000 litres of water per hour? Or that the amount of energy that went into treating and supplying that water is equivalent to leaving a 60W light bulb or five energy saving light bulbs running for the same period of time? Therefore, it is paramount that you should procure a more efficient watering system that will comprehensively replenish your garden whilst reducing your carbon footprint. From sprinklers and seep hoses to automated irrigation systems, by investing in a watering system that best suits the needs of your plants and the size of your garden you can ensure all of your plants are sufficiently watered without using excessive amounts of water; a practice that often occurs when using a watering can. You can use the links outlined in the Other Useful Gardening Information section at the end of this guide to locate and purchase your ideal eco-friendly watering system.

6.COMPOSTING & NATURAL FERTILISERS 

In addition to reusing your household and garden water as mentioned in the section above, there are a multitude of products you can recycle for use in your garden. For example, you can cut up plastic drinks bottles to use as cloches for your fruit and vegetable crops. Smaller plastic containers such as yogurt pots can also be used for planting seeds and cuttings. Moreover, if you live near the seaside you can even recycle old seashells or cockleshells instead of purchasing new gravel for your garden, as decorative features amongst your indoor and outdoor plant pots or to use as mulch on your planting beds!

Ultimately, as long as the products you use do not contain any harmful chemicals, pesticides or herbicides that can endanger your plants and local wildlife, they can be recycled for use in your garden. In fact, one of the most common organic gardening recycling projects is making compost.

Irrespective of the type of soil within your garden, compost will improve its structure. From retaining water and vital nutrients to ensuring the roots of all your plants receive sufficient oxygen, to attracting earthworms and other insects that will improve the structure of your soil, compost can enrich and revitalise your garden plants, fruits and vegetables.

However, although many gardeners are fully aware of these benefits of compost, many continue to use synthetic store-bought compost which does not retain its nutrients and which can pollute your plant life and water supply. For these reasons, many organic gardeners resort to making their own compost. If you choose to do so then you can ensure that your compost has been made solely made with fully decayed organic matter. Moreover, making your own compost is completely free, requires no expensive or timely trips to local gardening stores and provides a viable outlet for recycling your household waste. In fact, research estimates that between 10% and 30% of all landfills are filled with garden and household waste that could have been used to make compost!

How to make your own compost

Compost is incredibly easy to make and requires very few resources. Some of the many organic garden materials and household waste you can use to make compost includes:
Leaves, branches, foliage and other natural debris
Grass and wood cuttings
Old plants and shrubs
Food leftovers such as fruit peels, egg shells, raw vegetables or tea bags
Old newspapers, cardboard and other paper items.

When making your own compost you should only ever use organic materials. Never use contaminated substances such as diseased plant parts, garden waste that has been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, pet waste or any foodstuffs, which may attract pests such as dairy, meat or oil.

Once you have assembled your preferred organic garden materials or household waste, shred them or break them up into smaller pieces and then place them in a pile or inside a compost container. Always remove the seed heads of any plants you use for compost and chop up thick branches or wood to accelerate the composting process.
There are many eco-friendly compost bins you can purchase; many of which are fitted with a tumbling mechanism which can be turned to accelerate the composting process. Moreover, many of these store-bought containers are equipped with innovative doors to facilitate ventilation whilst simultaneously preventing garden pests from entering the container.

You can even choose to construct your own compost container out of plastic bin bags, metal bins, or any large plastic container. If you choose to use bin bags then you will need to enter your compost materials, close the bags and tie the top, then punch holes in the sides for ventilation purposes. Although this method is extremely easy to do, it takes significantly longer for the compost to transform into nutrient-rich fertiliser than other methods; on average between 12 to 18 months.

Alternatively, by utilising a metal bin or plastic container you can store larger amounts of compost and reap the gardening rewards in a significantly faster turnover time. All you have to do is cut the bottom out of your chosen container, punch holes in the sides and lid for sufficient ventilation, insert your compost materials and then seal the container.

Irrespective of the storage method you choose, after amassing all of your compost materials within your bin all you have to do in the meantime is turn and water your compost occasionally to keep the pile aerated and moist. By doing so, you will benefit from nutrient-rich fertiliser in just a few weeks!

How to use your homemade fertiliser

Once your compost has turned a black or dark brown colour and is of a crumbly substance you can begin to use it as fertiliser. There are many different gardening practices the addition of fertiliser will benefit. Amongst these various practices include:

To provide essential nutrients for plants: There are three essential plant nutrients. Nitrogen promotes dark green stem and leaf growth; phosphorus supports rapid plant and seedling growth, as well as strong stems, roots and flowers; potassium which promotes overall plant and flower vigour in addition to bolstering resistance against drought and disease. Although these nutrients are essential they are not found in all soil types. Consequently, by placing your homemade fertiliser over your soil you can ensure your plants receive these essential nutrients.

To support new plants and allotment crops: If you scatter some fertiliser around every new hole you dig and mix it into the soil before planting, you can provide your new plants, trees, flowers, fruit and vegetable crops with a nutrient dense area within which to grow and thrive. By doing so every planting season you can promote optimum growth throughout your garden.

Use as mulch: As gardening guru Paul James states: “Adding organic matter is the single most important and effective thing gardeners can do to improve garden soil.” As a result, you can use fertiliser as a form of mulch in order to enrich your soil structure and prevent it from drying out or compacting, to moderate soil temperature and nutrients. By placing fertiliser over your soil you will also increase the population of earthworms and soil microbes in your garden, promoting healthy plant growth and suppressing weeds.

To revive dying plants: If you notice some of your plants bear discoloured leaves, or they aren’t growing or blooming as well as they should be, they may be deficient in certain nutrients. To rectify this, you can scatter an inch of fertiliser around the roots of these plants to revitalise them.

You can reap the rewards of all of these gardening benefits by utilising your own homemade fertiliser. However, there are also several natural fertiliser brands you can purchase from local gardening centres that will enable you to reap similar dividends. These products are helpful to use when your homemade fertiliser stores are in short supply or if your plants are deficient in one particular nutrient. When purchasing these natural fertiliser products, it is important that you verify they are manufactured using 100% organic matter. For more information on making your own compost and to learn where you can purchase natural fertiliser products, feel free to visit the Other Useful Gardening Information section at the end of this guide.

7. ECO-FRIENDLY GARDENING ADVICE FOR BUSINESSES

A recent infographic posted online by B2C (Business 2 Community) revealed global natural resource consumption is at 125% of the Earth’s bio-capacity and is expected to rise to 170% by 2040. The percentage of citizens willing to act on environmental concerns has jumped from 57% in 2008 to 80% today. In response to this ecosystem dilemma and customer opinion, many businesses have begun to implement sustainable sourcing strategies within their current business models.

Sustainable sourcing

The term ‘sustainable sourcing’ refers to the process of businesses purchasing organic and locally grown foodstuffs to support the long-term maintenance of ecosystems and agriculture for future generations. By sourcing their company products and supplies in this manner, businesses can significantly reduce the carbon footprint for which their business was previously responsible. From reducing the amount of vehicles importing and exporting foodstuffs over a long distance, to reducing the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilisers that were previously used in the manufacture of their company’s foodstuffs, businesses can drastically reduce their pollution emissions, increase their profit margins and garner customer loyalty due to their eco-friendly sustainable sourcing endeavours.

There are many online and offline resources dedicated to helping businesses establish these eco-friendly gardening practices. One of the most successful resources is The Cool Farm Tool; an online greenhouse gas calculator that farmers can utilise to measure the carbon footprint of their crop and livestock products. This tool is currently used by both small businesses and large corporations such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer and PepsiCo, in order to measure, manage and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of their company and its suppliers. As the Cool Farm Tool organisation state, their mission is:

“To be a highly credible and capable partner for agricultural greenhouse gas management – ‘credible’ through using best available science and multi-stakeholder processes for methodology development and quality assurance; and ‘capable’ through providing leading agricultural greenhouse gas management products and services.”

This resource is completely free for farmers to download and use and as such, if you own a business you can utilise the Cool Farm Tool in collaboration with your local suppliers to calculate and reduce your carbon footprint. Feel free to visit the Other Useful Gardening Information section of this guide for links to the Cool Farm Tool website and to access other eco-friendly gardening advice resources and tools for businesses.

8. ECOLOGICALLY RESPONSIBLE GREEN ROOFS

The term ‘green roof’ refers to a roof structure that is either completely or partially covered by a growing medium. This growing medium is planted over a waterproofing membrane and can be used to plant and support the growth of vegetation as well as to attract insects and bees to populate and pollinate the surrounding area. A green roof can be fitted to both small and large buildings, in urban areas or throughout the rural countryside and can be equipped with additional layers including drainage and irrigation systems, as well as root barriers.

Consequently, these natural and organic structures offer a wealth of eco-friendly gardening benefits. For instance, if you live in an urban city area then a green roof will provide you with an efficient space in which to grow your own fruit and vegetables. You’ll create a naturally thriving outdoor space that will oxygenate the surrounding area and provide you with a clean and fresh place in which to relax and recuperate. This is due to the fact many airborne particles and pollutants are filtered from the atmosphere by the substrates and vegetation on the green roof. As the Tyndale Centre research team state:

“The world needs a 10% increase in green space within our cities in order to effectively combat climate change.”

These green roofs provide the solution.

Green roofs are extremely low maintenance and in fact would provide additional protection to your current roof structure. The combination of its waterproof membrane and the layer of the growing medium will safeguard your home from adverse weather conditions, provide efficient sound proofing and alleviate the pressure of your current drainage system by reducing its existing run-off by up to 70%. This process occurs because the plants growing on your green roof will filter rainwater and transfer it into the atmosphere. Subsequently, green roofs have been shown to double and even triple the life of the waterproofing membranes that exist beneath the green roof.

Furthermore, a green roof will insulate against heat loss during the winter months and retain cool air during the summer. As a result, by investing in a green roof you can substantially reduce your heating, air conditioning and overall energy bills throughout the year. In turn you’ll drastically reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Ultimately, green roof structures are cost-effective, environmentally efficient, aesthetically pleasing, easy to maintain and can increase the biodiversity of urban areas by providing a viable habitat in which local wildlife can thrive and populate. These overwhelmingly positive factors suggest that a green roof structure could be a viable long-term organic gardening solution for both urban and rural areas. For more information on the benefits of green roofs and how to install one for your household, feel free to visit our Other Useful Gardening Information section at the end of this guide.

9.HOW AQUAPONICS CAN PREVENT GLOBAL WARMING

The term ‘aquaponics’ refers to the innovative farming and fishing practice that integrates fish farming and growing plants without soil. Ingeniously, aquaponics farms both fish and plants within a singular system in order to eliminate wastage and reduce the carbon footprint of both practices.

In an aquaponics system, the waste produced by fish is recycled to provide essential nutrients for the plants growing within the same system. At the same time, the plants being grown in water will filter this fish waste from your aquaponics system to create a clean environment within which your fish can live.

Simultaneously, the worms and microbes that live on the surface of your grow bed media will convert the ammonia within the fish waste into nitrites, nitrates and ultimately vermicompost that your plants will absorb. Consequently, aquaponics harmonises all of the negative aspects of both aquaculture and hydroponics in order to create a cyclical system that is mutually beneficial for both fish and plants.

aquaponics-plans

As a result of this completely natural and waste-free process, aquaponics is also one of the most ecologically responsible forms of agriculture available. This is due to the fact that, by combining plant care resources with fish farming you are significantly reducing your total water consumption and energy usage. On average, aquaponics utilises 90% less water than conventional agricultural methods and, given that the process of aquaponics controls the conditions of your growing environment by itself, there is no need for artificial fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides. The production of these would release harmful carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Aquaponics also liberates you to produce a vast array of fish and plants throughout the year. Within this controlled environment you can optimise the level of water and nutrients in order to yield maximum fish and plant growth regardless of the season.

Aquaponics in action

Subsequently, many prominent figures within the gardening world have launched plant care resource initiatives to centre around aquaponics. One of these includes the UK’s first aquaponics solar greenhouse, which was constructed in 2014 on an ex-council farm in Monmouthshire in Wales.

The farm is managed by Springwatch TV presenter Kate Humble and her husband Ludo Graham as part of their Humble By Nature initiative. They have transformed the land in order to teach various rural skills, cookery and educational courses that convey the main principles of aquaponics to both residential and commercial farmers.

Furthermore, Humble by Nature’s aquaponics solar greenhouse initiative continues to operate alongside the non-profit social enterprise organisation Aquaponics UK. Speaking about their joint ecological endeavours on the Humble by Nature website, Kate and Ludo surmise how;

“In a nutshell we grow fish and recycle the nutrient rich water into soilless vegetable production cleaning the water in the process so it can be constantly reused…We’ve built a passive solar greenhouse in which to house this productive, edible ecosystem which is also…combined with a variety of other complementary farming techniques such as producing fish and poultry food from insects, growing mushrooms from used coffee grounds and growing poultry, fed from by-products of the system.”

Their greenhouse demonstrates how aquaponics can be a self-sustaining agricultural solution for all manner of British farmers because it permits them to raise fish and grow crops within a waste-free integrated system. As such, the practice of aquaponics heralds a new future for modern day farmers, which has great potential for reducing our global carbon footprint. For more information on how to create your own aquaponics farm, please peruse the links provided in our Other Useful Gardening Information section of this guide.

10.OTHER USEFUL GARDENING INFORMATION

If you have any further questions regarding organic gardening and the different ways of reducing your carbon footprint, there are a variety of websites you can visit. These online plant care resources can provide you with targeted advice and specific guidance on growing your own fruit and vegetables, conserving your water stores, making your own compost and natural fertiliser, as well as introducing you to forward thinking eco-friendly gardening practices such as aquaponics and green roof structures. By investigating these organic gardening resources, you can begin to cultivate and maintain a thriving ecosystem within your local community:

Categories
Urban Farming

Without a ‘Right to Garden’ Law, It May Be Illegal to Grow Your Own Food

The most delicious vegetables are the ones you grow yourself, as many have come to realize during the pandemic. But some cities and counties have restrictions that prevent people from gardening at home. In one Midwestern town, a temporary greenhouse has ended up on the wrong side of the law, revealing a value system that is distinctly regressive.

Nicole and Dan Virgil, who live in Elmhurst, a suburb of Chicago, are dedicated vegetable gardeners. By the summer of 2015, they had maxed out their 2,000-square-foot backyard with raised beds and were relying on them for much of their family’s produce. They had branched out from simply growing the typical salad ingredients to cultivating potatoes, fennel, leeks, and tomatillos. In late August, the plants were still going full-bore, and the Virgils wondered how they could extend the Midwestern growing season. (In this climate zone, seedlings go into the ground on Mother’s Day and peter out in October.)

“It seemed like such a shame that everything would come to a dead stop once the temperature dropped,” says Nicole, who is among an estimated one-third of all Americans who have grown food at home. “We really wanted to make a dent in our grocery bill and in our carbon footprint—we didn’t turn our whole backyard into a garden just to have a few token vegetables.”

After doing some online research, Dan built a “high-tunnel” hoop house to protect two of the larger garden beds. The temporary greenhouse, made of plastic sheeting over a frame of PVC pipe and plywood, was nine feet tall at its apex. It was big enough to produce sufficient heat to warm the soil and allow the Virgils to stand inside while gardening in frigid conditions. In more temperate climates like California’s, farmers use hoop houses to protect delicate blackberries and raspberries from dew and fog.

A few weeks after their hoop house went up, Nicole found a violation notice from the city taped to it. “I thought it had to be some kind of misunderstanding, that it couldn’t possibly be serious,” recalls Nicole. She had assumed that the hoop house, a lightweight temporary structure akin to a tent, wouldn’t be subject to city regulations.

After several discussions with city officials, 16 public meetings over two years, a lawsuit filed by the Virgils, and a subsequent appeal, the city remained unmoved, siding with the neighbor who had filed the original complaint. The Virgils found themselves stuck in a catch-22 of having an unpermitted temporary structure while having no way to get a permit for a temporary structure. Facing a daily fine, they took down their hoop house.

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We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.BECOME A MEMBERInside the Virgil's hoop house.

Inside the Virgil’s hoop house.

Why would a backyard hoop house be so contentious? The Virgils are among many home gardeners around the country who have triggered a city or county ordinance that restricts edible gardening. It’s fairly common for local governments to have a broadly written landscape ordinance, which may not explicitly prohibit vegetable gardening but requires grass or similar vegetation and calls for plants within a certain height.

The neatly manicured yard has long been a status symbol; lawns first appeared in the 1700s on European estates, whose owners could afford to have high-maintenance living carpets. And the suburbs have historically differentiated themselves from “ag land.” “A lot of rural land was developed into suburban municipalities, and the zoning code was changed to prohibit agricultural uses—people didn’t want a pig farm to move in,” says Laura Calvert, the former executive director of Chicago-based nonprofit Advocates for Urban Agriculture.

Given the context, it’s easy to see how the neighbors might look down on home gardening as a form of subsistence farming. “People think that it’s beneath them,” says Nicole, who documented her struggle in a recent op-ed for the Chicago Tribune.

The goal of these ordinances, whether they’re about landscaping or temporary structures, is to maintain property values. (The racist practice of redlining, which kept African Americans out of the suburbs, was rationalized in the same way.) However, the perception that growing vegetables will drive down home values is “not rooted in any evidence,” as Calvert points out.

Now the pandemic shutdown is shifting these cultural attitudes. For the first time in a long while, people have seen empty shelves in grocery stores and witnessed hoarding. The past months have been a visceral reminder of how important it is to have access to healthy food, which no doubt prompted many to start planting. Elmhurst’s neighbor, Chicago, is ahead of the curve; it embraced hoop houses in its 2011 ordinance promoting urban farming while still regulating them with restrictions on their size and height. “We have broad mayoral support for urban agriculture,” says Calvert. “It provides all these benefits, including food access, public health, and public education.”

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The Virgil’s hoop house in winter.

In addition to these imperatives, there are also philosophical and legal principles to defend. On a basic level, the right to garden year-round can be encapsulated as the right to do what you want in your own yard. The Virgils are advocating for a state Right to Garden bill, which would override local ordinances. They’ve joined forces with attorney Ari Bargil at the nonprofit Institute for Justice, which works on constitutional law cases and helped pass the first such gardening bill in Florida.

Bargil sees restrictions on home gardening as a violation of a fundamental right: “We have the right to use our own properties to grow our own food, as long as that use doesn’t impinge on someone else’s freedom to enjoy their property.” And he feels that landscape ordinances smack of authoritarianism. “If a vegetable garden is attracting pests, it has a bearing on the health and safety of a community, and that should be regulated,” he says. “But if the government is acting like Disney World and specifying what your front yard should look like, that’s not a vision of a free society.”

The Right to Garden bill in Illinois has been through three rounds of revisions and should go before the state legislature in its next session, which begins in early 2021. The Virgils are cautiously optimistic that their cause will prevail. “I’m just trying to do something good,” Nicole says. “I want to help people live well and help each other and have food in abundance.”