In the last article, we left me as a young wife somewhere in the late 60’s in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, dutifully putting out dishes of beer to feed the slugs in our organic garden, as a way of eliminating them and their damage to our fledgling plants. This was because I had made the unfortunate mistake of choosing the mulch method (applying mulch like grass clippings, hay, etc. on top of our organic garden), not realizing that the mulch would keep in the moisture and attract every slug in creation-or so it seemed to me! (Vancouver B.C. is in the rain forest zone after all, mainly due to warm ocean currents.)
The purchasing of beer to handle the slugs, became a formidable expense until we decided to make our own-which had additional benefits, more or less. That was especially due to the mistake of adding too much sugar, resulting in a beer that had as much alcohol content as wine (12 1/2%), as measured by our hygrometer. But what did I know? For me as a mostly “non-drinker” I nevertheless decided to test it out. So I had a bottle of our own beer before preparing dinner one evening and, well…but I digress.
Be that as it may, I learned the value of organic gardening first-hand, because the veggies we harvested were SO delicious! They were nothing like the veggies I was in the habit of purchasing in the grocery and supermarkets in town. For example, I learned to LOVE curly kale in a way that would hardly have been possible, had I not grown my own. And of course our veggies were fresh from the garden so they had maximum nutritional value-which did not escape my notice, being the health-conscious and diligent new housewife that I was.
You may already know some of this, but if you buy organic veggies and fruits at your local grocery store or supermarket, there are degrees of quality in these products. The basic minimal quality of organic produce is that which is grown without chemical pesticides and without chemical fertilizers. To be certified as an organic farmer, there are other qualifications necessary.
There are various groups engaged in certifying organic produce. For example, the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) is one such organization that certifies organic produce. According to their website, they are a member-owned, non-profit group. The requirements to be certified will vary according to the region one is growing produce in, and what is being sold. They do say that no prohibited materials (e.g. chemical pesticides and fertilizers) can have been used for three years prior to the first organic harvest.
Then just last week while shopping at our co-op for organic foods, I came across the term “bio-dynamic”. I asked what that meant, and was told it’s an upgrade from the “organic” designation, which signifies even better care and quality in planting, tending and harvesting organically grown crops.
Then there are crops that are harvested before being ripe, and those that are vine-ripened.
However, if you grow your own, you won’t need to worry about any of this! And if you are new, and/or live in a harsh climate, and/or have sand, clay or rocks or even cement for “soil”, or even if you live in a condo, you can still get organic gardening done in a very cost-effective way and with much less work than you’d think, and still have a very high quality yield of your favorite fruits and veggies.
Barbara Ellingson knows the value of good food in creating health, from first hand experience as a cancer survivor by natural means. Her organic gardening experiences plus her ability as a researcher and sincere interest in communicating all come into play in her articles about organic gardening.
For information about her recommendations, please access this website: http://www.organicfoodforless.info. If you wish, you are also welcome to contribute to the blog: http://www.discoverorganicgardening.blogspot.com.