Organic Gardening In The 21st Century The Amazing American Muscadine Is Delicious With Dramatic Health Benefits Organic Gardening The Pros And Cons Vegetable Gardening Tips Choosing The Perfect Flowers For Summer

Over the course of the past decade, a significant number of men and women from different parts of the world have taken up gardening. In this regard, these people have found themselves interested both in creating magnificent flower gardens as well as in cultivating thriving vegetable gardens.

A majority of gardeners still rely on what might be considered “mainstream methods” when it comes to the care and maintenance of either their flower or vegetable gardens.

In other words, these gardeners tend to rely upon various commercially availabable chemical treatments and products to care for their gardens. Various types of garden-related chemicals — from pesticides to fertilizers — are available readily at garden supply shops and discount retail stores. More often than not, these basic products can be obtained for a fairly reasonable cost.

As a person becomes more involved in the care and maintenance of his or her garden, such an individual tends to become more conscious and aware of how the materials he or she utilizes to tend a garden space actually effects the environment and the plants being grown (particularly vegetables). Consequently, many experienced gardeners (and, in reality, an ever growing number of novices) have turned to organic gardening practices.

Organic gardening practices actually have been around and utilized by people since certain ancient tribes gave up hunting and gathering and settled down to grow their own crops and to maintain their own domesticated animals. In their most basic form, organic gardening practices consists of the use of naturally occuring materials (organic materials) in the care and treatment of a garden patch — vegetable or floral. No man made chemicals or any type are utilized in true organic gardening regimens.

For example, when it comes to providing nutrients for an organic gardening, two resources normally are relied upon: compost and manure. Likewise, when it comes to the issue of pest control, natural steps are taken to rid a garden of offensive bugs and insects. In this regard, benign insects that do not damage plants but who prey upon bugs that harm foilage are placed in a garden or patch to deal with a harmful infestation problem or situation.

In the final analysis, people who espouse organic gardening practices and techniques maintain that the goal or such natural programs is to nourish and protect the soil well into the future rather than providing a quick, seasonal fix for one planting period. Through organic gardening, soil and water contamination is reduced significantly. Additionally, when it comes to the production of vegetables, the food generated from an organic garden is free of harmful chemicals and deemed to be far healthier for human consumption.

Historically, muscadine grape vines and the resulting fruit were discovered and recognized as a very important horticultural product, found growing in huge populations and proportions in the United States from Delaware southward along the Atlantic Seaboard. The first record of muscadine grape vine occurrence was posted in the ship logbook in the year 1524 by the navigator Giovanni de Varrazzano, who was hired as a captain from Florence, Italy by the king of France to explore and report on the inhabitants and the habitat of the New World. Captain Verrazzano described a big “white grape” (scuppernong) that was growing in great profusion at a valley in Cape Fear, N.C.

Not only were muscadine grape vines used by the American Indians for fresh fruit and juice, but they were also dried as raisins and preserved as winter snacks, as reported by Captain John Hawkins in 1565 from his sailing records from Florida.

In 1775, William Bartram in his book, Travels, reported muscadine grape vines that he had observed were virogously growing near Mobile, Al. “when ripe they are of various colours, and their juice sweet and rich.” He reported that American Indians actively preserved these grapes as raisins by drying them over gentle fires and later in the sun and air and “store them up for provision,” for winter meals.

U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, planted vineyards and harvested muscadines at his home at Monticello, and also, he established the fruit gardens at the White House in Washington, D.C. during the early 1800’s.

Arthur Barlowe in the year, 1584, wrote to Sir Walter Raleigh extolling upon landing in N.C. the fruitful land was “full of grapes, that I think in all the world, the like abundance is not to be found.”

Responding to that letter the following year, 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh described the mother-vine of the scuppernong (white grape) muscadine with a base thickness of the grape vine stalk of two feet through, and the huge vine covered
Picture three ripe red tomatoes arranged on a wooden cutting board awaiting your pleasure. They’ve each come from a different source: can you tell which one was grown organically?

Two of the tomatoes were lovingly tended in backyards – one in a conventional garden and the other in an organic garden. The third tomato came from the supermarket, and it’s easy to eliminate from the guessing game.

The supermarket tomato is the pale red one the size and shape of a tennis ball. Bred for packing, shipping, and storing, (not flavor), this tomato was picked green, has traveled more than a thousand miles from farm to store, and has sat on the shelf for weeks — looking none the worse for wear.

Set this one aside. It was definitely not grown organically.

Two remain. For the sake of the game, they are the same tomato variety, let’s say Big Beef slicers. Bright red, they were just picked and are still warm to the touch from afternoon sun.

It’s not so easy to tell the difference in these; we have to look beyond the surface… literally. The quality of the soil from which they grew is the key element to naming the winner of this game: conventional tomato vs. organic tomato.

The chemicals in the fertilizers used in conventional gardens actually break down the health of the soil. Microbes that are necessary for making soil nutrients available to the plants are killed off.

The dead soil requires increasing doses of conventional fertilizer, and still the plants are malnourished, falling prey to insects and disease. Enter the deadly pesticides, sprayed liberally on the plant.

Now, the game is getting serious. One of the two remaining contestants in our tomato contest had better be carefully washed before being eaten; it’s been dusted with poison.

On the other hand, the organically grown tomato also had fertilizer applied to it, but this fertilizer was made from naturally occurring substances like bone meal, fish emulsion, and rock phosphate. These additions fed the soil and did no harm to the beneficial microbes that make nutrients available for use by plants.

Pesticides probably weren’t necessary because a healthy plant produces its own pest-resistant chemicals. But if there were pests, the organic gardener might have used a home-mixed spray of hot pepper and garlic, or something similarly non-toxic to humans.

There are a few additional techniques the organic gardener probably used, such as tilling in a cover crop to add organic material for the microbes and earthworms to decompose. This process results in a crumbly textured soil that holds moisture and allows the roots to breathe.

But even without the soil improvement from a cover crop, it’s fairly clear which tomato is better for health: the only nutrients that can be found in the fruit had to come from what was available in the soil. The organically grown tomato provides better nutrition.

What is not so clear is which tomato is better for flavor. A test of the ratio of sugar to acid might be made, but that isn’t a big issue. Both the conventionally grown and organically grown tomato are vastly superior in flavor to the poor tomato found in most supermarkets.

The original question in this tomato guessing game was whether you could tell which one of those ripe, juicy tomatoes on the cutting board was organic. Turns out that it’s hard to tell just by looking, or even just by tasting.

So, what’s the big issue? Mainly this: sustainability. Conventional growing depletes and eventually destroys the soil. Whereas organic growing techniques actually build and improve the soil.

In the end, the nutritious organic tomato contributes more to your health, and it is certainly better for the health of the soil from which all future crops will come.

With the costs of living rising all the time, it may be possible to save money and increase your family’s health at the same time by growing vegetables in your backyard.

It’s a good idea to choose your favourite vegetables to grow and plan beds for early, middle of the season and late varieties.

Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, some need 8. Some quick growers like lettuce and radish can be grown between the rows of plants that take longer to mature, like beet or corn, thus making full use of the area available.

Throughout dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more of water each week, especially when they are fruiting.

During the growing season watch for insect pests. If you discover a bug problem early it will be much easier, but be careful to not use pesticides once the vegetable are close to being picked unless it becomes an absolute necessity. Organic gardening is one healthy and environment-friendly option. Once you have reaped your crop, put the vegetable waste into your compost pile so that it can be recycled for next spring.

It is important to protect your vegetable garden from wild animals looking for a tasty treat. Make sure your garden is surrounded by a fence that will keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. The harm done by wandering animals during one season can equal the cost of a fence. A fence also can serve as a frame for peas, beans, tomatoes, and other crops that need support.

Protection is needed in order for your vegetable garden to yield a bountiful harvest. Hard work will pay dividends if necessary precautions have been made.

Summer flowers and bedding plants are a great way to instantly add color to your lawn. Summer flowers start appearing in garden centers in the early spring, but you should be careful to plant only after the danger of freezing weather has passed. Summer flowers produce the best results when purchased ready to plant rather than trying to grow them yourself from seeds. Selecting the right summer flowers for your area can be quite a task, especially if you are planting your first flower garden. Here are some suggestions as to which flowering plants may be right for your situation:

If your flowerbed is in direct sunlight for the majority of the day, you will want to choose a hardy, heat-resistant plant. Some of the better choices for full sun are marigolds, zinnias, petunias, and zinnia. Be careful to choose a variety of heat-resistant plants, as some of these full-sun varieties are prone to diseases, especially marigolds. You will want several types of flowers in your flowerbed not only for contrast and interest, but in the event that one variety does poorly or becomes diseased, you can simply pull the plants (roots and all) and cultivate your remaining varieties. Keep in mind that if any of your plants are diseased, you should pull them immediately to avoid spreading the disease to your other plants.

For areas that are in partial to full shade, consider impatiens, begonias, and vinca. All of these come in a variety of colors and grow quite well in shady areas. In choosing the colors for your flowering plants, remember that red colors make the plant seem closer and larger, while blue will give the illusion of smallness and distance. Planting a single color of flowers will draw more attention to your flowerbed, but if you want several colors make sure the flowers compliment one another. Purple goes well with pink and white will blend in nicely with any other color. Also, red goes very well with violet as odd as this may seem.

The most important thing you can do to ensure beautiful summer flowers is to prepare your flowerbed appropriately before planting. Till the soil thoroughly and remove any weeds, roots and all. Fertilize your flowerbed before planting and for the first month after planting flowers, water every other day so that the roots of the plants will be properly nourished. Use mulch as a covering in your flowerbed to preserve moisture and do not over-feed your flowers. Use fertilizer exactly as directed on the package and avoid getting the fertilizer directly on the parts of the plant that are above the ground.

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