I considered myself extremely lucky to have in-laws very close by with an amazing garden each year. They did all the work, and my family reaped the benefits! I knew though that someday, that may come to an end and my husband and I would need to step up to the plate and start our own garden. Well, this year, the time has come for us to take over (although, the in-laws are still certainly a plethora of help and a wealth of knowledge and information!). My husband and I decided we needed to do a bit of our own research as well so that when we made our garden, it would jive with our intentions of giving back to the earth as it provided for us. On our quest for more knowledge, we came across a book by Lolo Houbein called One Magic Square. Lolo is a very wise older woman who survived World War II and a year long famine in Holland. She explains in her book an easy, organic way to grow your own food on a 3 foot square! To this day she spends her days gardening and finding ways to give back to Mother Earth. Along with all of her enlightened ideas on how to properly grow organic food, she went through her Ten Green Rules that I thought were ideal for anyone with a garden to know about. Remember, going organic with your garden actually makes gardening easier for you on many levels. There are a lot of things you don’t have to do anymore-going back to the basics allows nature a chance to show what it is capable of. As Lolo states, “Nothing is wasted; all is used or recycled.”
I paraphrase her Ten Green Rules:
1. A garden is a community where many different plants help each other and attract insects, which in turn attract birds to nest in thickets, contributing to a healthy balance without the need of toxic substances that harm birds, frogs, lizards, wildlife, and your family.
2. Care for the soil. Don’t leave it bare for long. Don’t rototill. Keep digging to a minimum. Use a garden fork when loosening is required.
3. Keep compost away from plant roots and use natural pest-control methods.
4. Never burn garden waste. “Cook” diseased waste in plastic bags in the sun.
5. Set up a worm farm and frog pond (after you have stopped using toxic sprays). Plan to enclose your orchard trees and put in a few hens to control codling moth and other pests. (The kids are excited to get to this step)!
6. Rotate crops in the food garden, plant fragrant and pungent herbs for pest control, and practice companion planting.
7. Raise your own seedlings from open pollinated seeds, never genetically modified! Leave some vegetables to go to flower to attract predator insects.
8. If buying mulches, soil, or other garden products, buy organic or purchase from unsprayed environments.
9. Never use toxic sprays, not even the ones you are told will break down quickly. These are the ones that get into the ground water and then into your neighbors water supply. Don’t use snail pellets as they kill frogs, lizards, ladybugs, worms, birds, and other assistant gardeners. If you must spray, make a garlic or soapy water spray and be sure to keep it far from your frog pond or worm farm.
10. Use weeds for their nutrients in compost and green mulch. Control seed-setting weeds by simply cutting off flowers. Where weeds are rampant, mulch with wet newspaper, cardboard, telephone books, and pea straw. Then plant ground covers and maybe a tree. Use this area for a pumpkin bed or potato crop.
Remember, the earth and it’s beautiful plants are ALIVE. They respond to our love and care. Think of your garden as your paradise and paradise will emerge! In many countries gardening is known as the number one stress reliever. Being connected in this way to the earth is an amazing way to stay healthy, wealthy, and wise!