Carl Grimm, natural gardening and toxics reduction specialist , visited to show us how to grow an earth friendly garden you can eat.
Start with the soil
- They key to growing a great salad is to have great soil. And for super soil, compost is the key.
- Compost (from home or the nursery) should be brown like dark chocolate, and smell sweet and earthy. If it smells like rotten eggs, it needs air and time to cure. Wanna smell? It's good, isn't it?
- Spread a one- to three-inch layer and mix it in.
- My favorite soil-mixing tool is the heavy-duty, D-handled digging fork.
- Your soil might benefit from some all-organic fertilizers. But don't over do--good compost is often all that is needed. Over fertilizing can cause plant pest and disease problems and end up polluting our local rivers and streams through storm drains.
- My favorite fertilizers are alfalfa meal pellets and greensand, available in local feed stores and many smaller nurseries.
- I sprinkle a thin layer and dig it in before planting beds that need a boost.
Pick plants that taste terrific
- For awesome accents in your border beds, try artichoke and calendula. You can even plant out a little patch of corn for a surprising visual effect. I like the super sweet hybrid corns because, well, they're super sweet!
- For the ultimate in tasty tomatoes, I like Sungold and Sweet millions.
- When planting, be sure to firm the soil around the plant like this so there are no large air pockets that could dry the roots out.
- For some more bright orange edible flowers for salads I like Scarlet Runner Bean. They cover a fence or arbor fast, look great and make tasty beans too.
- Now is the time to plant the seeds. Bury them about an inch deep and a couple inches apart.
- Add a mix of beautiful salad greens like lettuce and arrugula to your garden for tasty salads through the season.
- When planting, be sure not to bury them deeper than they were in the pot.
- Finally I always like to have a nice selection of fresh herbs growing near the kitchen to add home-grown flair to any dish. I like garlic chives and regular chives for their flavor and their beautiful flowers, and the classics like thyme, oregano, sage, and basil can't be beat.
Tasting the fruits of your labor
- Whether you have a small potted garden or a raised-bed mini farm, growing a little food at home always tastes better.
- Would you like to try a salad of lettuce, artichoke stems, and calendula petals with a balsamic vinaigrette from my garden? How is it?
- Remember growing your own organic food not only tastes better, but also makes your yard a safer place for you, your pets and nature nearby.
To learn more about natural gardening, come to a Metro natural gardening seminar or give us a call at 503-234-3000.
come to a Metro natural gardening seminar or give us a call at 503-234-3000.
The Gardens of Natural Delights Tour is on July 13th.
For more information on gardening and this tour visit the Oregon Metro website.