What do these three have in common? If you do not know, then we need to talk.
A seasoned veggie gardener would see this and say “sheesh Donna, this post is not worth my time”. That is ok. I have tons of followers who would find this information helpful.
I also know lots of people who think that the whole “Certified Organic” Non-GMO is a gimmick. If that is you, please humor me and hang in there.
If you are like most new gardeners that are wanting to do the best they can for their new gardens, this is truly for you.
Here we go…
Weeds. As long as no-one is spraying them with poison, they are wild and free to live as they please. Nuisance they can be, but they have learned to adapt to our local conditions. They send their roots deep to compensate for the dry times, they produce quickly to stay one step ahead of us. They shed their seed quickly or go dormant during dry times to wait for the next rain to pop up and get a jump on doing it all over again. They have learned to adapt naturally to the pests, droughts and other conditions that this particular environment provides. Smart little things. I have decided not to outsmart them, but to work with them. I chop and drop them in order to add them back into the soil or feed them to my animals as a type of forage. They are full of minerals. Why? Because of those deep roots that we mentioned. They go deep into the soil and bring nutrients up to the top that my short rooted veggies would never be able to get at otherwise. So, if I feed them to my animals, they help build up the animal’s health. Then the excess is pooped out to put back into the top level of the soil. When I chop and drop- the decaying plant matter sends not only the minerals back into the soil ( again at the top level), but also adds in the humus that this dirt needs to become the rich, fluffy growing medium that we all love.
Organic seeds-non hybrid seeds. Now for those of you who say poo-poo to organic seeds; please consider this for a moment. Most gardeners do not save seeds to plant year after year. So where do we get our seeds? From a seed company. The seed company harvests the seeds from plants that are grown specifically for this purpose. If the seeds create a hybrid plant, then the seeds that they create will not produce the same variety of plant. If you are not a seed saver, this may or may not matter to you.
If the seed is not organic, the plant grower is free to use chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to keep their investment safe. It does make business sense. But now this seed that was saved from a parent plant (that was protected from pests by chemical pesticides) has not been bred to protect itself from pests. It also comes from a lineage that has been bred to expect chemical fertilizers in order to stay healthy. Even transplants that are commercially produced have been given a drip of chemical fertilizers in order to stay vibrant long enough to get to the store and dazzle you with their beauty and charm.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Now, take that same gorgeous transplant or packet of seeds home to plant in your organic garden. You know what will happen? It will be like telling a drug addict to detox by going cold turkey. The detox will be horrific, and could be life threatening. Nursing school taught me that (about the drug addict, not the plant). You will have to add a lower dose, similar drug like Miracle Grow to get this plant through the trauma.
Local varieties. Okay enough fun, now let’s talk local. Is it enough to go online and buy organic seeds from say- Virginia? Maybe. But we live in a very different environment than seeds that have been bred in Virginia are used to. What do we do then? Well, if the seeds come from Virginia, then we plant the seeds during a time that mimics the weather in Virginia when they plant those seeds. Cool. No really. If they plant their stuff in cool spring to heat up in the warm summer, then we plant our stuff in the cool fall to heat up in the warm spring.
But, if we purchase seeds that are saved from non-hybrid plants that are grown locally;then our plants or seeds have a better chance of becoming even better adapted to our particular climate with each new generation.
To summarize this information. Don’t spray your weeds. Add them to your compost pile, feed them to your animals, or even learn which ones are appropriate to eat yourself.
Use seeds from growers that are local or have a similar growing climate as yours. Make sure that they use organic growing methods.
If you are really into it, use non hybrid varieties and breed your own plants, saving only the seeds from the very best in order to create some strains that are perfect for your garden.