GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY!!
Getting Your Hands Dirty
With much discussion surrounding the importance of eating fresh and locally sustained food, what better way to control what you ingest by growing and producing it yourself? It seems this is becoming more than a trend in many urban neighborhoods. Around the country people are “digging” into the idea of self-sufficiency from growing and raising their own food.
At Gourmet Services we have created a number of added benefits for our clients to enhance their dining programs through our community involvement. Along with our friends at Rid All Green Partnership, an urban agriculture and education initiative in Cleveland, Ohio, have partnered with us to develop a few ideas to inspire individuals contemplating starting their own garden.
Before you begin, start a compost bin. You’ll be surprised at all the different organic waste you can combine to make useful, nutrition-rich, soil. You will also want to decide which vegetables and herbs you want to plant. Tomatoes, Radishes, Zucchini, Beets, Carrots, Spinach, Peas, Peppers, Lettuce and Onions are just a few crops that even the least experienced can tackle. Consider the soil acidity required for them to grow; and if needed, apply lime to increase the pH level and sulfur to decrease it. Choose a spot in your yard that receives ample sunlight year-round and remove any pebbles or debris. Apply a thin layer of your nutrient-rich compost over the soil and mix them together with a shovel or pick. If you plan on growing peas or beans, fence this area off to provide support for their stalks. This fence will keep away all the hungry bunnies. Mark off rows for the various crops you’ve chosen and leave plenty of room between them for growth. Dig to the appropriate depth specified for each type of seed and evenly distribute them along the row before covering them with packed soil. Water your freshly planted seeds using a spray bottle instead of a hose. This procedure will not unearth or saturate them the seeds. Once your vegetable and herb garden starts to flourish, attentively pull out weeds from the root and repel insects with a natural blend of chopped garlic and mineral oil.
Aquaponics is a revolutionary way of growing food. It’s Aquaculture – the raising of edible fish combined with hydroponics, and growing vegetables and herbs without soil. Aquaponics is the most productive form of agriculture on the planet, and is a perfect self-sufficient assembly of plants and animals that function like your own personal ecosystem – producing food without the byproduct of waste or pollution. The idea isn’t new. Aquaponic systems have been used in Asia for centuries. Fish are grown in flooded rice paddies, which provide fertilizer for the rice, filters the water, and making the entire system closed and symbiotic. The positive aspects of both aquaculture and hydroponics are retained and the negative aspects no longer exist, and can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it. Aquaponics a system that requires no bending, no weeding, no fertilizers, and only uses the same power it takes to run a light globe. The flood and drain media based system, has been found to be the most reliable and the simplest method of Aquaponics, especially for beginners. It can be done very simply using a wide range of different containers, and requires minimal maintenance. Media filled beds use containers filled with rock medium of expanded clay-like material, and water from a fish tank is pumped over the media filled beds to help the plants grow in the rock media. This style of system can be run two different ways – with a continuous flow of water over the rocks; or by flooding and draining the grow bed in a flood and drain, or ebb and flow cycle.
Whether it’s vegetables, herbs or an Aquaponic system, we hope you find these self-contained gardening options an ideal and beneficial one for your backyard.