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Backyard Gardening

These days, there are things we can all do in the places we live that can impact , not just our lives, but the Earth itself for generations to come.

I call these things “CRA” – Community Redevelopment Activities

Now, depending on how profound you’d like to be, your degree of tenacity, and who you associate with, some examples of CRA are: 

  • Meditating or Practicing (what you love) in Public
  • Sharing what you have learned with strangers and neighbors
  • Growing your own food and encouraging others to do the same
  • Create Community Co-Ops

Time for Healing

*Everything discussed today in regard to Gardening can be metaphorically applied to all levels of life.*

Healing ourselves and helping the Earth heal itself starts with soil, without which we would have no food and the world would be nothing but rocks and water.

Healing bite by bite depends on the soil and clean water. The soil is the vehicle that nutrients use to be delivered to the plants that grow in it. Without getting to into it, the land we live on here is mostly depleted of all the vital nutrients and minerals that are necessary for the plants to grow with the phytochemicals and nutrients they’re supposed to have.

Phytochemicals or nutrients are the chemicals that occur naturally in all plants. These “plant” chemicals are responsible for each individual plants specific properties and characteristics –

  • Cyanindin & Peonidin in Blueberries make them blue
  • Pelargoridin in Strawberries makes them red
  • Capsaicin levels in Chili’s determine how spicy the pepper may be

In order to replenish the soil and give the Earth the time, energy and space it needs to heal itself, restoring itself to its naturally fertile state, we have to give it a break. This means taking it upon ourselves to fix up the soil and redistribute all those essential minerals and nutrients that have been suck out through deforestation,  chemical dependant agriculture and over development of mass scale communities (Miami?).

HOW DO WE HELP THE EARTH RESTORE ITSELF?

COMPOST!!!

Composting is the process of decomposing and breaking down organic matter. This process is beneficial to the Earth because offers a steady release of nutrients that only come from living matter. For growing food, composting is the fuel for the soil vehicle the plants use to grow in. Composting is the best way to recycle organic matter (which usually doesn’t get recycled) into an essential soil ingredient, reduces your waste footprint, creates a closed loop of sustainability (from table to compost to garden to table), and discourages pests while encouraging microbial life in the soil.

Successful compost is made of 3 parts brown matter to 1 part green matter.

Green Matter = Nitrogen
Food waste and scraps
Vegan manure
Grass clippings
Fresh garden clippings
Egg shells
Kelp/Seaweed
Flowers

Brown Matter = Carbon
Brown leaves
Dry grass
Straw
Sticks
Cardboard
Paper
Coconut husks
Coffee filters
Stale bread
Dryer lint
Hair
Sawdust
Wood chips
Coffee grounds
Tea bags

Avoid putting - 
Meat
Bones
Fat
Milk
Yogurt
Cheese
Plastic bags
Straws
Juice boxes
Metal wrappers
Aluminum foil
Scrap metal

The stuff you use for your compost pile should be broken or chopped up into small particles. The microbes need small pieces to break down, too big and it will take too long or may begin to rot.

We want the compost to be working out! Aerobic microbes are what breathe in the oxygen and release the carbon dioxide. Lazy compost, anaerobic microbes release methane gas and stink pretty bad. Nobody wants their house or yard to smell like rotting food, right?

The best way to keep your compost working out is to keep it hot and moist. The mixture should be wet enough to leave your hands wet when you grab a handful, kind of like a wrung out sponge or rag. The compost should never be wet enough to drip when it’s squeezed.

In order for the mix to be hot, it is best to keep it covered. The ideal compost temperate is 140 degrees Fahrenheit and this temperature should be maintained for at least 3 days in order to do away with any undesirables (pathogens, garden weeds, etc.). Once a day, the compost should be turned or flipped. This makes microbe food more available, aerates the pile, all while keeping the compost pile hot. The best way to monitor the temperature is with a compost thermometer but it’s not necessary.

A typical compost yard pile typically takes 4 to 6 months while the 2 pot method usually is ready to go in a month to 5 weeks.

Once the compost is ready to go, it’s time to -

Pick your spot!

If you’re like me and you want to turn your house into a food forest, start with what comes easy. If you have a big yard or you want to create a community garden, grow beds or raised beds provide considerably more efficiency than typical row gardens, taking up as little as 20 percent of the space to grow the same amount of food. This is one of the most popular methods of home gardening and is growing in popularity especially in a time where the simple act of growing our own food is considered an act of revolution.

If you are limited on yard space or have only a patio, container gardening is a great way to maximize space and add elements of creativity and expression to your living space. This is also a great way to up-cycle things that would have otherwise been garbage. You are only limited to your own creativity and resourcefulness. Containers also lend themselves well to growing food indoors. Once again you are only limited by your imagination.

Being that this is the 21st century, technological advances have made growing food easier than ever. Hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic systems are, in my opinion, the best options for growing food no matter how much space you have. There is a system to fit everyone needs and budget. These systems typically take up 80% less space and use even less of the water. In 9 square feet, I’m currently growing 4 cucumber plants that have over 20 cucumbers growing right now, 3 wax bean plants, 5 lettuce plants, basil, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, mortgage lifter tomatoes, and watermelon. All of which is in one aeroponic tower.

Once you’ve created your compost, chosen where you want to start growing, and laid out your growing vessels, the next step is getting your seeds. I can’t stress enough, acquiring heirloom organic seeds is essential. It is always recommended to get what you need locally if you can. If you don’t know where to get seeds that you can trust, check out eonseed.com. They are located in Davie, FL off of University Drive and State Road 84. 


 





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