This will demonstrate how you can grow a lot of organic food in a small amount of space, without sacrificing a beautiful garden for a production garden.
It has been a very mild winter here in North Texas, so I expect a lot of garden pests this year. We use only organic, pollinator-safe remedies so it’s quite an exhaustive undertaking to keep the voracious pests at bay. Anything that would be questionable for the pollinators is only used very late in the day (almost dark) after they’ve gone in for the night and has time to dry before morning. Anything that is planted for the pollinators doesn’t get treated in any way. These include dill, fennel, parsley, flowers, and milkweed.
The Natural and Organic Remedies We Use
Neem Oil: Multi-purpose insecticide and fungicide. Improves the health of the plant too. Use only 100% organic cold-pressed neem oil. The neem oil being sold in garden centers has been completely stripped of the active chemical Azadirachta the active ingredient which has all the benefits. It acts as an insecticide, fungicide, bactericide and your plants love it and will become healthier the more you use it. Strong, healthy plants deter all these issues.
If you do use the neem oil being sold in garden centers, the only benefit will be the oil itself which will suffocate the insects but has none of the other benefits.
Castile Soap: This is needed to mix with the Neem Oil so it will make an emulsion when mixed with water. Otherwise, Neem Oil will stay separated from the water. You can also use Castile Soap as an insecticide on soft-bodied insects as the soapy film will suffocate them. Be careful not to spray pollinator caterpillars!
Hydrogen Peroxide: Works for early blight, late blight on tomatoes and deters powdery mildew from forming. I’ve noticed that it also kills aphids.
B.T. / Bacillus Thuringiensis: For chewing insects like cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms, and bagworms. It also keeps mosquito larvae from hatching.
Everything we use is organic with the exception of the Permethrin which is not used on any food. Crops.
The Organic Fertilizers We Use
Epsom Salts / Magnesium Sulphate USP (generic drug store): Increases the nutrient absorption of the plant. Be sure to use Epsom Salts marked USP as they have been certified by the FDA and United States Pharmacopeia (USP) to be safe for humans. Epsom salts have natural laxative properties, so be sure to keep bulk salts away from children and pets.
Epsom Salts do not build up in the soil or harm groundwater. It makes for stronger more disease-resistant plants and deters pests. Use Epsom Salts in a foliar spray for curling, yellowing leaves which are a sign of magnesium deficiency. It’s also great for your lawn, houseplants, and roses!
CaliMAGic 1-0-0 Calcium-Magnesium supplement: by General Hydroponics.
Tomatoes that don’t have enough calcium develop blossom end rot, a common disorder producing blackened, soft indentations that mar and weaken the fruit. Calcium in the soil may be hindered from getting to the plant because the pH is too low. Plants that are prone to magnesium deficiencies, such as peppers, exhibit yellowed, drooping leaves and have diminished disease resistance.
9-1-1 REVIVE RX: by MI Gardener.
A highly potent liquid-based fertilizer that is 100% water-soluble. Used when starting seedlings, taking cuttings, reviving sick plants, used in drip systems, and hydroponics. High nitrogen, balanced phosphorus and potassium, humic, fulvic, & lysine amino acids and over 40 trace minerals to alleviate plant stress and fast-acting.
Jobe’s Organics Bone Meal: Phosphorus and calcium great for vegetables, tubers, flowers, and bulbs.
Jobe’s Organics Blood Meal: Very high non-synthetic source of nitrogen.
Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Plant Food (granular and water-soluble): Granular – mixed in the soil of new plantings and as a top fertilizer throughout the growing season. Water-soluble used as a liquid drench and a foliar feed.
Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer: Contains naturally occurring soil microbes. Provides a rich source of organic matter that breaks down and releases nutrients into the soil to enhance the strength and vigor of your plants
Noble Worm Organic Worm Castings: An organic, natural method to reinvigorate soil. More advanced than plain compost, and more eco-friendly than synthetic fertilizers. The worms are raised on plain peat moss beds and fed NON-GMO corn silage. Worm castings are dry, odorless, do not burn, and are safe and non-toxic to people and pets. Ideally suited for growing fruits and vegetables for your family, as well as houseplants, flowers, and ornamental foliage.
Compost: Yard and garden trimmings, kitchen produce scraps, leaf litter. A few weeks ago, I went to the compost bin (which was on the ground) and was in it up to my elbows admiring the beautiful, sweet-smelling black gold. Much to my shock, I discovered two baby copperheads writhing in the compost. That put a BIG damper on my spring fever! I’ve had the “heebies” ever since. That compost bin is now sitting in the city dump.
Compost is so wonderful for the garden beds and plants! It feeds the worms and delivers nutrients to the plants. I will have to figure out a new composting situation which is off the ground and doesn’t take up much space. I’ll post an update once I get it figured out.
Vegetables and Herbs We Are Growing This Season
Tomatoes: Black Krim (my favorite very tasty and meaty tomato), Super Fantastic, Celebrity, Brandywine, Better Boy, Sun Gold, and Sweet 100. Most were started from seed in late February and a few were purchased.
Squash: Black Beauty Zucchini and Crook Neck in containers and at the end of the side bed with the tomatoes. Butternut Squash on the cattle-panel trellis over the raised bed.
Cucumbers: Poinsett and National Pickling.
Egg Plants: Ichiban, Snowy, and Nadia.
Peppers: Giant Marconi, Poblano, Jalapeno, California Wonder, and Monster Bell.
Kale: Blue Vates and Purple.
Herbs: Parsley, Oregano, Basil, Sage, Chives, Thyme, Mint (chocolate and peppermint), Lemon Grass.
The Fruit Trees in the Garden
Brown Turkey Fig
Bay Laurel (for bay leaves)
Garden Plants Shown in Video
Hellebores, Stone Pine, Hostas, Panicle Hydrangeas (Limelight, Pinky Winky) Macrophylla Hydrangea (Silver Blue Variegated – a birthday gift from my precious friend, Lisa) Mophead Hydrangeas, Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Orangeola Japanese Maple (a broken-off stick poking out of the ground) Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’ Japanese Maple, Althea, Peonies, Green and Bronze Fennel, Dill, Chinese Fringe Tree, Oshio-Beni Japanese Maple, Autumn Joy Sedum (Stonecrop), Clematis, Snowball Viburnum, Loquat.
Raised and Trellised Garden Bed
A cattle panel arched over an 8×8 raised bed. The cattle panel is strong enough to support large squash like butternut. It’s a great way to grow vertical in limited space!
I’ll post another garden update in midsummer. It should be scorching hot by then!
Happy Gardening and God Bless You,