background image
/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 1
10 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 1
Are you wondering what you
can do to live a greener life
around your own home? Have
you ever thought about growing
your own vegetables? It's not as
hard as you may think and can
have a big impact on your car-
bon footprint!
With the price of food go-
ing up, nutritional values going
down, and more information
coming out about toxic chemi-
cals, pesticides, and GMO prod-
ucts that are being used in our
food supply, it only makes good
"green sense" to learn how to
grow your own vegetables...
organically, of course!
Here in San Diego we are
blessed with some of the best
year `round growing conditions
in the country. Unfortunately,
the soils aren't very good. Dig-
ging up and amending your soil
is a lot of work and can take a
long time to become decent gar-
den soil. Dormant weed seeds
are stirred up every time you
till, leaving you with thousands
of weeds to pull. And you still
have to deal with the local go-
phers that can reap havoc on the
plants and their roots.
Fortunately, there is a very
good solution: raised bed gar-
dening! Raised beds allow you
to bring in your own weedless
mix and easily add amend-
ments that allow you to start off
with healthy, nutrient-rich soil.
Healthy soil produces healthy
plants that can naturally fight
off many diseases and pests. Your
vegetables are much more nu-
trient dense than what you will
find at any supermarket.
Growing your own vegeta-
bles organically also gives you
the peace of mind of knowing
you are growing and eating veg-
etables that are free of chemicals
and pesticides. And those pesky
gophers? Raised beds allow you
to put down hardware cloth be-
fore you fill the bed with soil to
keep the gophers out.
Another benefit of raised
beds is they allow you to plant
your plants three times closer
to each other because you are
using loose, nutrient-rich soil.
Traditional gardens make plant
roots spread out and they take
up more growing space. A 3' x
8' raised bed will give you the
same production as a 9' x 24'
When gardeners use synthet-
ic chemicals, they are putting
toxic products in our soils that
are harming and killing the bio-
logical life. The nutrients in the
soil become locked up because
there is very little microbial ac-
tivity to break them down. The
soil becomes more compact be-
cause there is no biological life
to naturally aerate it, and it loses
its water retention ability. These
fertilizers wash through the soil
quickly and end up in our rivers
and streams.
Organic gardening is "all
about the soil." Healthy organic
soil is full of life and biological
activity in the form of microbes,
earthworms, and the beneficial
fungi. A teaspoon of organic
soil can hold up to a billion mi-
crobes! When we apply organic
fertilizers they remain in the soil
until the plants need them, so a
little goes a long way. They en-
courage biological activity that
feeds on this organic matter and
converts it into a form the plants
can absorb.
The plants take carbon diox-
ide from the air and convert it to
carbohydrates released through
their roots to feed the soil life in
the root zone. This creates a very
symbiotic relationship between
the plants and the soil biology,
which in turn helps plants de-
velop healthier root structure as
well as thicker cell walls in the
leaves and stems that help the
plants naturally fight off diseases
and harmful insects. We benefit
by the "nutrient-dense" fruit and
vegetables the plants produce
which helps our body naturally
fight off diseases and illnesses,
This biological life is natu-
rally aerating the soil (think of
worms tunneling through the
soil) and creating greater water
retention ability of the soil so
we don't have to water as often.
Some examples of organic fer-
tilizers and amendments we use
are worm castings, rock dust,
seaweed extract, as well as ap-
plications of compost, compos-
ted manures, and compost tea.
There are many other effective
products and amendments you
can apply.
How else does growing our
own vegetables reduce our car-
bon footprint? By growing our
own vegetables organically we
reduce the number of trips to the
Back Yard Organic Vegetable Gardening
by Shawn Studer
grocery store to buy vegetables
that, in many cases, were grown
and delivered from thousands
of miles away, as well as reduc-
ing the use of fertilizers, toxic
chemicals and pesticides. Since
the vegetables are used immedi-
ately, there are no packing mate-
rials needed.
Best of all, raised bed gar-
dening is easy. Since the soil is
perfect from the start, there is
no need for digging, tilling or
weeding. All you have to do is
plant your seeds once a season
and water two or three times a
week. Your garden becomes a
fun family project that everyone
can enjoy!
Shawn lives his passion promot-
ing, teaching and growing organic
food "the Natural Way." his business
is Instant Organic Garden, a partner
with the Center for Living in harmony
(Valley Center, CA), and he has helped
improve the vegetable gardens at
The Center for a healthy Lifestyle
(Solana beach, CA) where he teaches
vegetable gardening classes. Shawn
lives and grows his vegetable gardens
in Carlsbad, CA. Visit: www.instant
Left: The Klein family planting their spring
garden. Without digging, tilling or weeding,
gardening becomes a fun family project!
below: Raised beds made with Western
Red Cedar. A single trellis bed can feed two
adults for 15-20 years.