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|Publisher:||Cool Springs Press|
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About the Author
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WHY I GROW MY OWN FOOD AND WHY YOU SHOULD (AND CAN) TOO
I GREW UP IN COLORADO, the third of ten kids. With so many mouths to feed, my parents grew a large garden to save money on groceries. The entire family spent many hours working together in the garden, picking endless rows of beans, husking corn, and harvesting tomatoes, lots of zucchini, and many other vegetables.
We ate tasty meals from our own garden almost daily, and all the kids helped my mom preserve the vegetables that we grew. Our freezer was stuffed with beans, corn, and peppers. Our basement shelves were lined with colorful rows of canning jars filled with pickles, salsa, beets, zucchini relish, and homemade ketchup. It was too cold to grow anything outdoors in the winter, so it was a huge treat to eat food we harvested and preserved the summer before.
To be honest, as child, gardening wasn't love at first sight. At times the garden tasks seemed endless.
A FAMILY THAT GARDENS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER
Looking back now, I can see that my parents created a sense of family fun, teamwork, and togetherness in the garden. Although I didn't realize it at the time, being raised with a vegetable garden created an appreciation within me for garden-fresh fruits and vegetables. It also gave me the desire as an adult to grow my own food and create those memories for my own family.
After I married my husband, Jerry, we moved to Southern California and had our two children, Julianne and Drew. For several years, we lived in small condos or apartments with no space to garden (or so I thought). I became increasingly concerned about the effect processed food, pesticides, and chemicals sprayed on grocery store fruits and vegetables can have on our bodies. I worried about the possible adverse long-term effects this may have on our children. And I was tired of tasteless store-bought produce.
I remembered the incredible flavor of the homegrown vegetables I had as a child. I wanted to feed my family delicious, organic veggies, and I wanted to have the satisfaction of growing them myself. I dreamed of a beautiful garden filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers, where I could get my hands dirty, grow my own healthy food, and build my own happy family memories, just as I did growing up.
But I didn't know where to start. You see, there were several problems — and I didn't think my dream would ever be a reality.
Problem 1: I was a busy wife and the mom of two young kids. I didn't think I had the extra hours in my day to maintain a garden.
Problem 2: We were a one-income family. I was a stay-at-home mom with little room in our tight budget for supplies.
Problem 3: It had been years since I gardened as a child, and I remembered very little about how to grow veggies. I began researching and was immediately overwhelmed by all the information and options. It all seemed so complicated, and I didn't know how to get started.
Problem 4: Our small condo didn't have a yard, and there was no space for a garden. With the high price of California housing, I didn't think we would ever be able to purchase a house with a backyard.
IT ALL STARTS WITH DESIRE
Eventually, we were finally able to purchase our own home with a backyard. Our house sat on an unusable weed-filled hill, with a grassy flat space at the bottom. There was no question in my mind that I would grow veggies. It was the garden space I had long dreamed of.
That first year, I knew nothing about starting seeds indoors. I didn't know about easy, inexpensive gardening methods. I didn't have a clue about how to garden organically. What I did have was a huge desire and a dream to have my own garden. More than anything, I wanted to get my hands in the soil, grow my own food, and feed my family healthy vegetables. I was determined, and I dove in headfirst.
I borrowed a rototiller from a friend and went to work carving out my new garden space in a corner of the yard. The next weekend was Mother's Day. My only request was for the entire family to spend the day planting our garden. My kids complained — just like I did at their age when gardening with my parents — but it didn't bother me. I was happy that we were outside together, digging in the dirt, planting vegetables, and building memories. At the end of the day, I was content knowing that we had spent time together as family and our own fresh veggies would be on our dinner plates soon.
First Harvest: I Was Hooked
A few months later, I harvested my very own fresh-from-the-garden lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I'll never forget that day. The taste of the fresh vegetables was out of this world, and I had an incredible feeling of pride knowing I was feeding my family a tasty meal that I grew myself.
From that moment on, I was hooked. And I haven't stopped growing since. This passion was the stepping-stone to teaching others how to grow their own food.
THE BIRTH OF THE CALIKIM GARDEN & HOME YOUTUBE CHANNEL
The following year, we were chosen to be on a backyard makeover TV show. It was an incredible experience, and it allowed us the opportunity to landscape our yard and terrace our weedy hill. This gave us the space to expand our vegetable garden, and I busily got to work planting.
My husband Jerry's (aka "CameraGuy") passion is video and photography. On a challenge with a few of his camera buddies to make a viral video, he shot a video of me explaining how to fertilize my vegetables with compost in my newly expanded garden. On a whim, we posted it on YouTube. To our surprise, people started watching, subscribing, and asking for more.
I still felt like a newbie with much to learn. I asked viewers for tips and advice, and I incorporated their suggestions into my gardening videos. We made more videos on starting seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings in the garden. As I learned, my garden and our channel grew by leaps and bounds. We posted more tutorial videos focusing on quick, simple, inexpensive, organic methods that made it doable for everyone to grow veggies, no matter how little experience or space they had.
While that first video didn't go viral, we realized that our individual skills were a powerful match. I love the thrill of seeing a new gardener discover the magic of seeing a seed sprout and grow, harvesting it, and taking the first bite of their own homegrown veggie. Jerry loves being creative behind the camera, capturing the unusual shots that make our videos unique and producing a video that is visually appealing.
As we communicated our excitement for growing and eating organic vegetables, our YouTube channel and community began to grow. Viewers loved learning the basic skills they needed to be successful growing their own food.
This formula for instruction has proven itself — literally a million times over. People from all over the world are now watching our videos and learning to grow their own food. They're part of our garden community and having a lot of fun along the way. To watch garden tutorials on our YouTube channel, go to calikimgardenandhome.com/gardeningvideos.
WHY GROW YOUR OWN FOOD?
There's nothing quite like growing your own food. What hooked me in the beginning was the superior flavor, freshness, and variety of homegrown food. There is also the cost savings, and knowing I am eating produce that is organic, fresh, and not sprayed with pesticides. When you grow your own food, you have control over what goes in it. You know what amendments you put in the soil, what you fed the plants, and how you tended to the food you harvest and eat.
I also love the outdoors: the feeling of warm sun on my back and getting my hands in the soil. It's what I like to call garden therapy.
Flavor and Freshness
Have you ever had a tomato that tasted like cardboard or purchased a bag of slimy greens from the grocery store? Many fruits and veggies at the grocery store are picked half-ripe for storage and shipping, and they are often bland and tasteless. Homegrown fruits and vegetables have an intensity of flavor that goes above and beyond the flavor of store-bought produce.
Growing your own produce allows you to harvest it at the peak of ripeness. This is why vine-ripened homegrown tomatoes are so much more flavorful than store-bought tomatoes. Homegrown lettuce that is harvested at its peak brims with freshness, flavor, color, and texture.
There is nothing more delicious and nutritious than a garden-to-table meal — it just doesn't get any fresher. Once you experience the taste of homegrown veggies, you'll never go back.
Colorful, organic produce can be grown right in your own backyard. And you can grow an endless variety — much more than is available at the grocery store. Nearly any type of herb, flower, fruit, or vegetable can be grown in your garden, especially when you start your garden from seed. (This will depend on your climate and growing conditions, but — trust me — there will be plenty to choose from.)
Organic produce at the grocery store sells at a premium price. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars a month on organic, store-bought fruits and vegetables, why not spend a few dollars for seeds and soil and grow your own groceries for a fraction of the cost?
Grow what you like to eat and grow veggies that are expensive to purchase in the grocery store. You'll save a huge amount of money on groceries each month.
Many fruits and vegetables that are purchased at the store are sprayed with synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The long-term effects of these products are not fully known.
Growing organically is not difficult, and it doesn't have to be any more expensive than any other method. Organic gardening simply means you grow your veggies using compost, natural soils, organic fertilizers, and organic pesticides, and you avoid using synthetic chemicals in your garden.
When you put a plate of organic vegetables from your garden on the table, you know exactly where your food comes from. You'll have peace of mind knowing that you are protecting your family's health by eating organic, nutrient-dense food from your own backyard — and keeping the chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives off your table.
One of the most important reasons I love to grow my own food is that I find it therapeutic. The stress of the day melts away and I am rejuvenated in the garden. The fragrance of the fresh air, the vibrant greens of the plants, and the brilliant colors of the flowers, all make my senses come alive.
The feel of the soil in my hands, the warmth of the sun on my back, the thrill of seeing a seed grow, tending to the plants, and harvesting and eating the vegetables is all a very basic, simple pleasure. It's satisfying at the very core of my being. It's mentally refreshing and inspiring. It's pure magic.
WHAT ARE YOUR REASONS?
Knowing your reasons for wanting to grow your own food will give you inspiration and motivation. In addition to the reasons I've mentioned, maybe you have a serious food-related health issue and need to change your eating habits to regain your health. Or perhaps you want to teach your kids where food comes from in hopes that they will eat more fruits and vegetables. Or maybe you're like me — you love the joy of getting your hands dirty and the thrill of seeing the seeds pop through the soil.
No matter what your reason, you'll love growing your own food. Every time you put a plate of garden-fresh organic vegetables on the table, it is worth the effort, because you'll know exactly what is in them and where they came from.
You may be saying, "Yes! I want to grow my own veggies — how do I start?" Even if you have absolutely no experience growing veggies — or you've tried to grow a garden before and haven't been able to — you can grow your own organic veggies. It's quick, simple, and inexpensive, and it's so much fun!
Let's begin together with my garden motto: Start simple and expand later.CHAPTER 2
START SIMPLE AND EXPAND LATER
THIS IS WHAT SOME OF MY FRIENDS tell me when I ask why they don't grow their own organic vegetables. Sound familiar? Then you're in the right place.
Starting a garden can feel intimidating — but it doesn't have to. You don't need to plant an entire farm full of vegetables. You also don't need to have tons of spare time or have lots of space. You don't even need a huge budget to be a gardener. All you need is a dream, the desire, seeds, soil, and sunshine.
My garden motto is "start simple and expand later." Just get started — even if you only grow one thing and have just five minutes to spare.
Begin by asking yourself, "What vegetables do I like to eat?" Grow just one of them in a small container on a sunny windowsill.
Remember my garden motto: Start simple and expand later. Get started with one vegetable. Savor and taste the sweetness of garden success. Start with a dream, and with a little bit of effort, seeds, soil, and sunshine, you'll be shopping from your own organic grocery store before you know it.
START SIMPLE: PLANT THE RIGHT VEGGIES IN THE RIGHT SEASON
I'm a firm believer that there is no such thing as a brown thumb. Anyone can grow their own food, no matter how much luck you've had growing veggies in the past or how little experience you have. With a few basic facts and a little bit of planning, you can easily grow fresh veggies many months out of the year (or year-round in warm climates).
Once you've settled on one or two vegetables that you enjoy eating, a key to starting simple is planting the right vegetables in the right season. Growing the right veggie at the right time of the year is the first step turning that brown thumb green. It puts you on the road to success in growing your own organic vegetables.
Working with the temperature range your favorite veggie grows best in is one of the secrets to easy gardening.
Dennis's dream was to grow his own fresh salads. One hot summer day, he headed outside to plant his first batch of lettuce seeds. He picked out a sunny spot in the garden, and he care- fully loosened the soil. He sprinkled his seeds in the garden bed, gently covered them up with a handful of soil, and carefully watered them. He couldn't wait to see them sprout and checked on them daily. He waited. And waited. And waited some more. Nothing. He emailed me out of frustration: "What did I do wrong? The seeds never came up! I must have a brown thumb."
Dennis was missing a basic — but important — garden fact that would have made growing his much-anticipated salads a breeze and saved him a ton of frustration: Lettuce grows best in cool-weather and won't sprout in hot temperatures. Armed with this information, he tweaked his garden space and planted the seeds in part-shade to help them stay cooler. He was thrilled to see lettuce seedlings break through the soil in a few days. He also planted beans (a warm-weather vegetable) in the sunny spot. He was thrilled to harvest fresh green beans about 6 weeks later.
There are two types of vegetables, cool-weather vegetables and warm-weather vegetables. Each type will grow and thrive — if it is planted at the right time of the year.
You'll love growing cool-weather veggies, such as asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, peas, radishes, spinach, turnips, and all kinds of greens. Just think of all the garden-fresh meals you can make from these veggies — from a simple salad or a stir-fry packed with superfood greens, to kale smoothies, oven-roasted root veggies, and broccoli-cauliflower bakes. Is your mouth watering yet?
Now, I know you're dying to grow them ALL, but resist the urge to plant everything at once. Don't forget my garden motto: Start simple and expand later. Believe me, you'll thank me later. Pick just one or two of your favorites to start with so you don't get overwhelmed. Then, as your confidence grows, plant a few more each growing season. Even growing one or two vegetables means you'll be eating more homegrown goodness from your own backyard.
These cool-season treats grow best in daytime temperatures between 40°F (5°C) and 75°F (23°C). Many cool-weather veggies will even tolerate light frosts (32°F/0°C), especially if the plants are well established when frost hits. When the temperatures hit 80°F (26°C) or higher, you may feel like jumping for joy (especially after a long, cold winter), but cool-weather veggies won't like it. The seeds won't germinate (sprout) in the heat, they won't grow if already germinated, and they definitely will not produce those delicious veggies you're craving.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Organic Gardening for Everyone"
Copyright © 2020 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc..
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction Turning Your Dream to Reality-No Experience Required 8
1 Why I Grow My Own Food and Why You Should (and Can) Too 10
2 Start Simple and Expand Later 18
3 The Secret to Gardening on a Budget-Starting Seeds Indoors 28
4 Transplanting and Transitioning Indoor Seedlings to the Great Outdoors 54
5 Placement of Your Garden and How to Prep It for Planting 64
6 Watering-The Key to a Productive Garden 78
7 Planting Vegetable Seedlings in the Garden 90
8 Garden Challenges-Pest and Disease Control, Extreme Weather 116
9 Harvesting Organic Vegetables Like a Pro 126
10 Revel in the Rewards-The Garden Gives Back 144
Appendix 1 CaliKim's Quick Look-Warm-Weather Veggies 149
Appendix 2 CaliKim's Quick Look-Cool-Weather Veggies 151
Glossary Basic Gardening Terms Explained 152
About the Author 156