Recipe for Making Great Compost

While the following recipe may seem surprisingly simple, it is the essence of classic backyard composting. Once you know the process, adding your personal touch will help you cook up the perfect compost every time.

Ingredients: Air, Water, Carbon (brown waste) and Nitrogen (green waste)

To Prepare:

Combine generous portions of all ingredients and allow to cook outdoors for several months.  Just starting piling up the ingredients in a convenient place A corner of your yard is a common option.
Continue to add brown and green ingredients until the pile is approximate 4’ x 4’ x 4’.
Mix often (every week is good) and add water to moisten (about like a damp sponge).

Compost is ready to serve when the ingredients are unrecognizable, the internal temperature is ambient, and the contents smell rich and earthy.  Add to the existing garden soil at about 30% by volume and mix into the top four inches of any garden bed. While the following recipe may seem surprisingly simple, it is the essence of classic backyard composting. Once you know the process, adding your personal touch will help you cook up the perfect compost every time.

Ingredients: Air, Water, Carbon (brown waste) and Nitrogen (green waste)

To Prepare:

Combine generous portions of all ingredients and allow to cook outdoors for several months.  Just starting piling up the ingredients in a convenient place A corner of your yard is a common option.
Continue to add brown and green ingredients until the pile is approximate 4’ x 4’ x 4’.
Mix often (every week is good) and add water to moisten (about like a damp sponge).

Compost is ready to serve when the ingredients are unrecognizable, the internal temperature is ambient, and the contents smell rich and earthy.  Add to the existing garden soil at about 30% by volume and mix into the top four inches of any garden bed. While the following recipe may seem surprisingly simple, it is the essence of classic backyard composting. Once you know the process, adding your personal touch will help you cook up the perfect compost every time.

Ingredients: Air, Water, Carbon (brown waste) and Nitrogen (green waste)

To Prepare:

Combine generous portions of all ingredients and allow to cook outdoors for several months.  Just starting piling up the ingredients in a convenient place A corner of your yard is a common option.
Continue to add brown and green ingredients until the pile is approximate 4’ x 4’ x 4’.
Mix often (every week is good) and add water to moisten (about like a damp sponge).

Compost is ready to serve when the ingredients are unrecognizable, the internal temperature is ambient, and the contents smell rich and earthy.  Add to the existing garden soil at about 30% by volume and mix into the top four inches of any garden bed. A few common things you might be tempted to add to your compost should be avoided. If you want to play it safe, keep these out of your compost:

What Not To Add – From Outside

Weeds going to seed (you don’t want weed seeds surviving only to sprout in your garden compost next spring).
Diseased  While it’s possible the diseases won’t over-winter, the safe bet is to leave them out of your compost ingredients.
Animal waste (from carnivores)
Chemically–treated plants and grass. While most consumer lawn and garden chemicals break down rather quickly when exposed to the elements, some do not. In fact, they’re very persistent.

What Not To Add From Inside

Animal products. This includes meat, bones, grease, and dairy. Reasons to keep these away from your compost include the risk of potential disease pathogens, short term odor, and critter attractant. While all can be composted, that doesn’t mean you should. In home systems, tend towards the conservative side, especially when starting out

Kids Eating Vegetables, How Does That Happen?

The age old task of getting kids to eat vegetables… how is it done.

There have been many different ideas on how to hide vegetables in other things to ensure that your kids eat their veggies and there’s been many an article produced to help parents who are pulling their hair out over getting their child to eat their vegetables. So, I’m not here to reinvent the wheel, but merely reinforce some good principles for getting kids to eat their veggies (not to mention other foods that are good for them).

So here are 10 principles for getting kids to eat their veggies…

  1. Set a good example for your kids.

Kids whose parents sit down to eat with them, tend to have less eating difficulties and model their parent’s behaviour. So make sure you eat your veggies too!

  1. Get them involved in the preparation

Helping select the veggies at the supermarket (or sending the kids on a mission to find particular veggies in the fruit and vegetable section) encourages kids to be involved with their vegetables. Encouraging kids in the kitchen by helping with the preparation while you’re preparing the meals, also helps.

  1. Grow your own, if you are able.

Growing vegetables gives kids a sense of accomplishment (as it does for adults) and they often want to eat what they have grown themselves. If you are limited with space there is a great book called “how to grow food in small spaces” which is a fabulous guide to growing vegetables especially if you don’t have the luxury of a whole garden. The guide is created by a company called “The Little Veggie Patch Co.” and they have some great things to look at and learn on their website. They also have a great selection of seeds, growing guides and other great items. You can even rent yourself a little urban veggie plot in Melbourne!

  1. Make them fun

Dressing your vegetables up and making them more interesting is a sure fire way to interest kids. Try some fancy faces or decorate some thin pizza bases in the shapes of animals these are great ways of inspiring kids creativity as well as their veggie intake

  1. Offer lots of colours

Plenty of colours appeal to kids, especially younger kids. Have you noticed that kids toys are multicoloured? So, the same principle applies to their veggies and it makes it much easier to make them fun!

  1. Persist and be consistent

You may need to introduce a vegetable a number of times. You often need to introduce a new food 10-15 times to a young child before they recognise it, so be patient. And be consistent, continue to offer vegetables daily (even if you vary the vegetable) and make sure you model the behaviour.

  1. Choose age appropriate portions

Different ages are able to manage different quantities so ensure that you choose amounts that won’t overwhelm your child but will still ensure they are exposed to vegetables.

  1. Try different vegetables each day or prepare them differently

Different vegetable each day helps to introduce kids to vegetables more extensively, you also might need to prepare them in different ways to not only expose them to the taste of a particular vegetable but also to the many different ways you can consume them..

  1. Use easy to eat vegetables at different times during the day

We often just think of vegetables with the evening meal but keep in mind that you can have them at many different times during the day. For example try mushrooms or avocado on toast for breakfast or cherry tomatoes for snacks (these are particularly enticing if the child has grown them themselves and a small cherry tomato plant can be grown simply and successfully in a small pot on a window sill!)

  1. Don’t bribe with food

And lastly, but defiantly not least, Never bribe with food. Although this has probably been done for generations, bribing with food won’t encourage a love or interest in vegetables and this is what we want kids to bring into adulthood to inspire their kids.

So, there it is, the Balanced Lunchbox’s ideas on getting kids to eat vegetables.

For more great tips on healthy eating and how to plan healthy lunches see:

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The Importance of Eating Fresh Vegetables

Nearly any reputable diet plan these days will include a lot of vegetables. It almost seems like they have become the new miracle food, but the fact is statistics support that. People who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruits day, a recent study has found to reduce their risk of dying from any cause by 42%. This is compared to those who eat one portion or less a day.

There is a long list of benefits that vegetables can give, but we must remember that different vegetables carry different health advantages. Some of these are quite surprising, but the point is about vegetables is not to just stick with two or three of your favorites. A wide range of vegetables, with color being the key to look for is what we should be after. So when planning our meals it is important to make constant changes so we can bring a variety of vegetables into our diet.

This article will point out certain vegetables that can provide us with some of the surprising benefits mentioned earlier. For instance, did you know that vegetables can actually help you handle stress? So read on, with the thought of shopping your entire produce section.

1. Vegetables as a comfort food. Cortisol is one of our stress hormones, and magnesium will help balance cortisol. When we eat green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach they are loaded with magnesium. Low magnesium levels have been linked with migraines and anxiety disorders. Another great food for stress is avocados as they are loaded with folate, which is extremely healthy for the brain. Avocados should not be overlooked in the diet, as they also are some of the healthiest fats we can eat, plus potassium and glutathione.

2. Vegetables can give skin a more youthful glow. Vitamin C, which are abundant in cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers and tomatoes are important for collagen formation. These will guard against a gene that prevents cell damage from the sunlight, environmental toxins and stress. If you want to reduce wrinkles eat these types of vegetables. Also important are vegetables loaded with beta-carotene, and these are carrots, red and orange peppers and winter squash. Look for vegetables with pigments to make you appear more healthy and beautiful.

3. Vegetables digestive issues. Vegetables are loaded with fiber, and this can help you flush wastes and other gastric irritants from the system. Bloating from gas can come from many things, but often it is produced by the bacteria in your gut; the same bacteria that help improve digestion. Certain foods like cauliflower, cabbage, prunes and Brussels sprouts can also lead to bloating.

Soluble fiber found in blueberries, nuts and other fruit slow down your digestion. Insoluble fiber found in leafy vegetables, celery, carrots and green beans helps to move everything through the digestive tract more quickly. Depending on your digestive issues you should choose the vegetables that have the fiber needed for your particular problem.

When buying vegetables typically the greener or more colorful they are the more nutritious they will be. Buying out of the produce department will be a much better option than the frozen food section or the canned vegetable section. Plus they taste a lot better.

Where you carry your weight has a lot to do with your overall health, as it is a  marker for issues  having to do with the kidneys and liver. Read more about how to put on good weight through diet and exercise on our website Rich Carroll is a writer and avid health advocate now living in Chicago.

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Why We Love Fresh Vegetables

It is no doubt that many of us will always include fresh vegetables in most of the dishes that we take. Do we stop to ask ourselves why we do that? There are many nutrients that are carried by vegetables, and they help make our bodies healthier and protects them from diseases. The following are some of the benefits that accrue to us who love vegetables.

Benefits of fresh vegetables

Eating vegetables that contain potassium is good for blood pressure. An example of such vegetables is spinach, and the nutrient from them is responsible for lowering blood pressure. Additionally, the body is protected from other malfunctions like kidney stones and loss of bone.

Vegetables contain high fiber content. Fiber helps the body to avoid health problems like constipation, since it ensures smooth running of our digestive system. It is also vital in reduction of risk of heart disease and obesity.

Cholesterol is one substance that everyone wants to avoid by all means. One way of ensuring that the body is free of that substance is including more vegetables in are diet than other foods that contain cholesterol.

It is important sometimes to lower our calorie intake. One sure way of making this achievable is by eating lots of vegetables, because they contain small amounts of calories. Faced with a condition whereby we are required to reduce calories, like lowering of body weight, then this option proves handy.

Vegetables like mustard greens contain vitamin A that is important in prevention of skin problems like acne, and scaling that may result on the skin, and others like Keratosis.

The skin also benefits greatly from the intake of vegetables that contain Vitamin E and beta- carotene. The nutrient has oxidizing properties that prevent the skin from the UV rays that come from the sun. This radiation can be harmful since it can cause skin cancer. The problem is avoided thanks to vitamin E in fresh vegetables. There is no more fear of the skin aging so fast because beta-carotene slows down the process. It also prevents diseases that are associated to old age.

Some vegetables like broccoli are vital in prevention of some cancers in the body. They contain anticancer compounds called isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. This is one problem solved owing to the fact that if some cancers are not detected early when they arise, they cannot be cured. In such a case the risk of suffering from the cancers is prevented.

Fresh vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants like Vitamin C, folate and lycopene. Studies show that vitamin E is vital in neutralization of free radicals that may be in the body, hence keeping the body cells protected. Folate is responsible for the formation of red blood cells in the body and helps the nervous system to function properly. Lycopene on the other hand boosts the immune system and lowers the risks of cardiovascular infections.

Looking at the awesome benefits of fresh vegetables that those who love fresh vegetables get, you are tempted to buy more of them from the nearby grocery store. But, it does not cost you much if you try gardening fresh vegetables at your home. It will consume a small portion of your time. Even if it took much of your time, close the eye that is looking at the time and focus on the benefits.

If at all you do not have any knowledge about gardening, then you should seek some professional advice. After obtaining the knowledge, you will have a new hobby, vegetable gardening, and the diet at your dinner table will be filled with vegetables that you have produced.

Final call

It has always been said that prevention is better than cure. The truth of this saying comes into play when we love vegetables, there is little risk of contracting diseases. It is as if we insure our health once we increase the amount of vegetables in our diet. It is therefore crucial that each one of us endeavors to increase their consumption.

Eating vegetables is so important. Many people don’t realize how important it is. It would make us more healthy and can prevent some diseases.

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Fruits and Vegetables – Nature’s Healers

Natural healers have long known about the power of fruits and vegetables. Did you know that green leafy vegetables have almost 20 times more essential nutrients, ounce for ounce than any other food? Fruit (eaten properly) and vegetables contain all the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, amino acids and fatty acids the human body requires. Fruit is, without exception, the most cleansing and most easily digested food you can eat. Both fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber which help the cleansing process. Water transports toxins from the cells and tissues of your body, and fiber keeps the eliminative system working.

I did previously mention the importance of eating fruit “properly”. This means it should be eaten fresh and apart from any other food, with the exception of plain, unsweetened yogurt. The reason being, fruit takes less digestive energy than any other food. When you eat fruit with or after other food, the sugar ferments instead of being assimilated, creating gas. The body then has to work very hard to process the remaining food. Because yogurt is a cultured food, it is predigested by virtue of the live enzymes it contains, and is very easily assimilated. Fruit does not digest in the stomach, as other foods do. It is digested partially in the mouth when you chew it, bypasses the stomach, and is digested and absorbed in the small intestine. Cooking or canning fruit destroys its nutrients and its sugars turn acidic, making it of no benefit to the body.

There are studies that show that people who eat lots of vegetables have half the cancer risk of people who eat few vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables accelerate body cleansing and proper elimination of wastes, which in turn normalizes body chemistry. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants like Vitamin C and mixed carotenoids (converts to Vitamin A in the body). Antioxidants support and protect your immune system.

One of the many beneficial elements of fruits and vegetables are bioflavonoids, a significant part of the vitamin C complex. Bioflavonoids:

o Build a protective antibiotic barrier against infection

o Boost immune response

o Are anti-inflammatory

o Help relieve allergies and asthma

o Assist in preventing cardiovascular disease

o Protect eye health

o Detoxify your body of carcinogenic chemicals, radiation and heavy metals

Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods you can find. This means that they are packed with nutrients in comparison to the number of calories they contain. As a result, they are essential for any kind of weight loss program. You can eat as much of them as you want, which can’t be said about any other kind of food.

In case you’re saying to yourself, “Yes, but it’s so hard to eat fresh fruits and vegetables… I’m just too busy… how can I eat more of them,” I have listed some ideas below that I think will help simplify matters for you.

How is it best to shop for, store and prepare fruits and vegetables?

o Use leafy greens, broccoli, berries and ripe fruit within two or three days of purchase to get the most out the vitamin content.

o Rinse fruits and vegetables under cold running water. Avoid soaking.

o Cook vegetables such as potatoes, beets and sweet potatoes whole or in large pieces and in their skins to preserve vitamins.

o Cook vegetables by lightly steaming or using a pressure cooker until just tender.

o Grilling, roasting and stir-fry are also excellent ways to cook vegetables.

o Don’t boil them in water, unless you drink the water or use it in a soup or as a broth. The water-soluble vitamins will escape into the cooking water.

o Shop just for two or three day’s worth of most fruits and vegetables at a time to preserve their freshness.

o Don’t eat canned fruits or vegetables. They contain very few nutrients and too much sodium and/or sugar (added as preservatives).

Tips for including more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

o Take a piece of fruit with you to work or school for a mid-morning snack.

o Have fruits and vegetables cut up and ready to eat on the refrigerator shelf.

o Combine fruits of different colors, flavors, and textures like red grapes and pineapple chunks.

o Fill half of your plate with vegetables first, then add the other food.

o Try a new fruit or vegetable.

o Make a point to have at least two vegetables every night for dinner. Make one of them a “high-powered” choice like carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, red pepper, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, squash or eggplant. Rule of thumb: The more intense the color, the more nutrients it contains.

o Add fresh vegetables to foods you already eat, like to pasta, or rice.

o Experiment with different ways to cook vegetables – grilling, roasting, stir-fry, streaming

o Experiment with fresh or dried herbs and seasonings for flavoring.

o Eat fruit for breakfast and vegetables with lunch and dinner.

The human body is designed to consume a diet that is predominantly vegetarian. Fruits and vegetables are true healers and, for optimal health, should constitute the majority of the food you eat every day.

Merry Rose is a Certified Nutritionist with a private practice in Los Angeles. She has been passionate about nutrition for over 25 years. Formerly, a professional singer and dancer, she noticed that what she ate and drank had a tremendous impact on her level of energy and overall health. Merry received her certification (CN) from the National Institute of Nutritional Education. Merry designs personal nutrition programs for a broad range of issues with an emphasis on women’s and children’s health. She is the consulting nutritionist for the Nike Fitness Academy.

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How to Set Up a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

The raised bed vegetable garden system a great option for growing vegetables because, no matter where you live, you can use this system.

The raised bed vegetable garden can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. As long as you use the principles associated with this type of garden bed then you can expect to get great results with a bounty of fresh healthy vegetables.

Growing Vegetables In Raised Beds

This type of garden is something similar to growing vegetables in containers only the ‘container’ can be so much larger.

For growing vegetables, the soil doesn’t need to be very deep as most vegetables don’t have deep roots apart from the root crop vegetables that is and then a depth of about 12 to 15 inches or 30 to 40 centimeters is mostly ample, potatoes are fine as you mound as they grow.

Raised Garden Bed Sizes

You only need your garden bed to be raised to about 12 to 15 inches. The length can be whatever length suits and the width needs to be a comfortable reach for you to the center from both sides without stepping into the bed.

The height of the bed should be whatever height suits you. If you don’t want to bend over while tending your garden then build your raised bed to a comfortable height that will allow you to tend the vegetables without the need to bend your back.

Raised garden beds are ideal for those with disabilities or the elderly who find it difficult to kneel down and more importantly get up after kneeling down.

If you wish to build your own raised beds then your options are many. You can use timber, concrete blocks, retainer wall paver blocks, stone. If using timber, only use non-treated timber like a cedar as the treated timbers usually contain toxic substances that can leech out into the soil and you will run the risk of your vegetables taking up the toxins.

There are also kits and ready made raised bed vegetable gardens that you can purchase and save the time in building them yourself. Check out your local nursery suppliers or have a shop around online.

It is also possible to have this type of garden without solid sides. Start with a good layer of gravel for drainage and then mound up the soil you wish to use, make sure you loosen the ground underneath before putting down the soil.

As a surround for the bed you could use a thicker border of mulch as an edging. I would only do this if the pathways between the beds were not grass but a mulch or gravel so that weeds or grasses couldn’t find their way into the growing area.

The pathways can be an attractive and low maintenance option too, especially if you use a wood chip or bark mulch or something like decomposed granite.


Raised bed vegetable gardens are meant to be low maintenance. That means by using this system, that is, adding your own soil mix to the beds, the weeds, pests and diseases are all but eliminated.

Better drainage is another advantage as having the bed raised allows the water to drain away and not leave the plants water-logged.

Crop rotation is very important when growing vegetables. Simply put, crop rotation means not growing the same vegetable two years in a row in the same spot.

With raised bed vegetable gardens, you can have the beds whatever size you want. This size should be determined by the size of your family or your vegetable needs.

So if you are a person living on your own or have a family of ten, your raised vegetable garden can cater for your needs.

You don’t need a big area to have a vegetable garden using the raised system. If you have a small yard or even a balcony then you can use the same principles to grow your very own vegetables.

The best advantage for you the gardener is, by using this system of raised bed vegetable gardening it has been shown, compared to the conventional vegetable gardens, to produce nearly twice as much in a smaller area.

As long as you follow the principles of raised bed gardening then you can be growing and eating your own vegetables in no time. That is the beauty of vegetable gardening, your wait is only a matter of weeks in many cases.

CTBaird is a freelance author You can find out more about raised bed vegetable gardens at Raised Bed Vegetable Garden [] for great resources, information, hints and tips on gardening using raised beds.

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Vegetable Garden Planning – Simple Steps to Making a Successful Vegetable Garden Plan

If you have decided to start to grow your own vegetables at home, vegetable garden planning is a worthwhile investment of your time. Planning your veggie garden will enable you to save time, money, space and labor. A well planned garden can increase the duration of harvest time and produce an increased quantity of vegetables at harvest time. With careful planning, you can ensure that your vegetables mature at different times rather than all at once providing a regular harvest of the vegetables you require. Vegetable garden planning can seem to be an intimidating project when you are just a learner. But it need not be that hard if you follow some simple suggestions.

1) Draw a rough plan of your yard.
Your garden planning needs to take into account how much space you can devote to your new pursuit. It will be easier to plan your vegetable garden if you first make a sketch of your yard, then go and measure it, writing your measurements on your sketch.

2) Decide on the size and location of the vegetable beds.
How much of your yard will you devote to your veggie patch? Consider all your other outdoor activities and their space requirements. Select a position in your yard which will be suitable for growing vegetables. Not all positions will be appropriate. For example, most vegetables require at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.

3) Draw a measured plan of your vegetable garden beds
Decide on what layout you would like for your vegetable garden. Rows? Raised garden beds? Four square? Potager? Now draw your vegetable garden plan with a pencil on graph paper or use some garden design software.

4) Plan the vegetables you will grow in your garden
Next you need to make a prioritized list containing the vegetables and herbs that you currently use in your kitchen, that will succeed in your climate and that you wish to grow.

5) Plan where you will be planting your vegetables
Starting with the vegetables on your list which have the highest priority, begin placing these on your garden plan, making sure that you leave enough space for the adult plant. You will also need to consider crop rotation and companion planting.

In conclusion Planning your vegetable garden will ensure a better return for the more physical work you will do outside digging beds, laying paths, watering, weeding and planting seeds and seedlings. Visit to get more details on how to plan your vegetable garden. Be creative with your vegetable garden layout. Find out more details and see sample plans of different vegetable garden layouts at

Enjoy your vegetable garden and the fruit of your labors.

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Fresh Tomatoes and Organic Vegetable Gardening

How to build your own vegetable garden

You will first need to stake out an area of garden to be converted to a vegetable patch. This area needs to be located a good distance from large trees and in a well drained and sunny position. As mentioned above, sleepers can be used to define the veggie patch area and reduce the number of unwanted roots from entering. Rocks can be removed by sieving (this is important for parsnips and carrots to prevent forking) and plastic can be lined for long term segregation from surrounding soil.

The soil must be fertilized and irrigation or some form of consistent watering applied. Lastly the right vegetables must be selected and planted in sensible regions for optimal growth. Stepping stones for access to stake plants and harvest produce are effective as this will confine walking areas.

Make sure the garden is maintained. This includes watering, fertilizing, weeding and plant maintenance (such as staking).

Growing your own – some common pitfalls

What are some of the common mistakes made when growing vegetables at home? Some of the common pitfalls include:

Lack of plant nutrition and poor soil. 
When removing grass, try and retain as much of the top soil as possible. This is the darker soil held around the grass roots. Use soil conditioner to develop the long term sustainability of your soil.

Insect attacks
Use some methods to control bugs, birds and other pests. There are many organic methods available as well as some simple preventative measures like adding appropriate mulch and keeping fruit and vegetables well away from the ground.

Lack of water
Make sure watering is to the plant root system and consistent. If you have a dry spell of a few hot days, this can wipe out your entire vegetable garden, so make sure you water to the season and climate. Adding mulch helps your plants and the surrounding soil retain moisture and nutrients, both vital for plant health and growth.

Poor crop rotation and choice of plants and positioning
Does your sweet corn shade out your dwarf beans? Choose crops for the season and ensure that you don’t plant the same crop year after year in the same position as the soil will become less able to support that particular plant.

Badly installed vegetable garden
Make sure large roots are removed from your vegetable garden as these will take nutrients away from your plants. If you want a great long term vegetable patch you may want to build a frame from sleepers and line this with some sort of plastic to prevent roots encroaching on your highly nutritious veggie patch soil.

How to grow vegetables in pots
There is not too much difference here, except you will want to make sure your pot has good drainage, plenty of room to allow root growth and is well watered in a sunny position. Add some blue metal or other gravel into the bottom to allow drainage without letting the soil wash out, and make sure you add some organic fertilizer or potting mix rich in nutrients. Pots are great for residential living where space is restricted.

Where can I buy fresh tomatoes and other vegetables?
There are a number of markets which sell relatively fresh fruit and vegetables. This is something which is really specific to your region so you will have to do your own research on where to source organic produce. If you have the room however it really is not that hard to grow your own.

How to organically fertilize your vegetable garden soil
Collect grass clippings, leaves and other organic matter, and mix in your old food scraps to make some highly nutritious compost. If you have chickens then use their droppings as fertilizer.

Preventing pests and bugs on your fresh vegetables
There are many remedies for this. Some natural snail pellets will be invaluable during seed germination, as this is a time when they are most vulnerable. I have had entire 100 seedling crops virtually wiped out by slugs and snails in the past. Some say that blending some of these bugs (such as caterpillars) and applying as a diluted mix can act as a natural pesticide, and others simply suggest planting certain plants which act as a deterrent. For example planting mint can be a deterrent for ants.

Strips of old video tape can be tied around parts of the veggie patch to scare birds, and mulch will reduce the amount of bugs which want a piece of your tasty vegetables. Lastly, make sure you get the fruit off the ground. Tomatoes need staking and climbing beans need climbing poles or rods.

How to save water when gardening and maintain good drainage
Mulch will save you many liters of water as well as providing good weed management. Water will be much less likely to evaporate if generous layers of mulch are applied. You can also buy drip hoses which apply water directly to the base of the plants. This can save considerable amounts of water when compared to a standard sprinkler.

A complex irrigation system would perhaps be the most desirable method of applying water, however we must weigh up the pros and cons of such a system which can certainly become a little expensive. One of the pros however is that we can apply water directly to each plant through drippers, or targeted sprinkler heads.

Installing a sprinkler timer can allow watering in the early hours of the morning, just before a hot day when evaporation is at a minimum. This also allows regular and consistent watering within your suburb’s water restriction regulations.

Lastly you may decide to use grey water to add to your water supply. Water from your washing machine or the shower is perfect for the veggies and can drastically reduce your water bill. Just be sure to make sure you only use environmentally friendly shampoos, conditioners and washing powders/liquids. You may also like to install a water tank which collects water during heavy rain and can consistently water your garden over the dryer durations.

Deciding what to plant
Perhaps the most popular vegetable is the famous tomato. Commercially produced tomatoes are often picked green, and artificially ripened allowing any sugars to turn to starch. This has led to an enormous number of home growers deciding on fresh tomatoes as the number one choice when it comes to vegetables.

Other popular choices include beans, sweet corn, broccoli and potatoes – all of which are high produce crops. Be aware that some crops are more suited to winter than summer and vice versa, and some require full sun or part shade etc. Be sure to select the appropriate crops for the season and positioning within the vegetable patch.

Why grow organically?
Organically grown vegetables taste amazing. Many top chefs stick to organically grown fruit and vegetables in order to add that extra zing to their meals. Using natural fertilizing methods is also much better for the surrounding environment, something which is especially important in built up urban areas. Artificial phosphates and concentrated fertilizers can wreak havoc with wetlands, streams, rivers and other water bodies.

Pesticides are also bad for the environment and somewhat unnecessary. There are many ways of reducing pest activity in your vegetable patch which should definitely be used over pesticides which not only harm the environment, but allow bugs to build up a tolerance to such chemicals in the long run. It is also almost impossible to completely guarantee that some of these pesticides won’t end up in the food you eat, and with a world already plagued with carcinogens and other nasties, it is nice to avoid pesticides if at all possible.

The vegetable garden project.
If you would like to see an actual vegetable patch made in what used to be an ordinary grassed back yard, and the delicious results obtained, then make sure you have a look at my website below for pictures, walk throughs and further tips about growing your own vegetables at home.

Richard Watson ( [] )

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