I Got Green: CafeMoms Grow Organic Gardens

Sheri Reed
baby, garden

Photo by EuroMomTX

This whole week, CafeMoms have been sharing their green efforts in 2008 and green aspirations for 2009. All these moms have all embraced one or several eco-friendly alternatives at home.

Today I chat with CafeMoms foreveramom and EuroMomTX, who both maintain organic vegetable gardens.

Cafe Sheri: foreveramom, you grow your own veggies, some melons, and herbs. How long have you been growing your own food?

foreveramom: The spring and summer of 2008 was our first year. We loved it so much, I imagine we will do it until we are old and gray. It is so easy and so much fun. The reward of the food is amazing and the time my son and I got to spend in the garden, priceless.

Cafe Sheri: EuroMomTX, what kind of garden do you keep?

EuroMomTX: My family had a little orchard/potato field/forest in Germany where I grew up, and I participated from the time I was very little. Right now I live on a small acreage in Texas with horses, goats, and other animals. My garden focuses on things my toddler likes to eat like blackberries and tomatoes as well as herbs, vegetables, and greens for us. I can't wait for spring to get here! This year I want to really expand my herb garden to use them in infusions for my balms and lotions. Due to the challenging environment where we live (drought, etc.), I have also gained a special interest and appreciation in native fruit bearing trees like Texas Persimmon, Anaqua, Agarita, etc.

Cafe Sheri: At some point, did you make a conscious effort to grow your garden free of pesticides and chemicals? If so, what made you decide to make this change?  

foreveramom: We are very "earth conscious," and we started our garden from the very beginning, determined to be natural in every way. There are a slew of reasons, but one of the biggest things that made us decide to go natural is the information I started to learn about the benefits. I learned that the chemicals we add to our plants and food actually weaken them and disable them from adapting to drought and pests, which they are more capable of dealing with in their natural state. This amazed me. It actually takes more water to grow chemically altered and enhanced produce.

EuroMomTX: A few years ago when we moved our horses from a boarding stable to our own place, I started to read more about farming practices and learned a lot from the book Building Soils for Better Crops by F. Magdoff and Harold Vanes. Of course, having small children around gives an added incentive to keep things free of toxins, and with the manure from our horses, we pretty much get wonderful fertilizer for free!

Cafe Sheri: Is maintaining an organic garden easier or harder than you thought it would be?

foreveramom: Way easier! I thought, surely there has to be more for me to do. Surely it doesn't just need sun and water, and that is it! All the work was done when I made my soil, introduced my worms, and put the plants in the ground. After that, no maintenance except for water, making sure it had light, and pulling weeds if you choose, nothing else.

Cafe Sheri: What surprised you most when you switched?

foreveramom: The thing that surprised me was how easy it was. Literally I could water every other day and that was it.

Cafe Sheri: What organic method do you use to tackle pests like snails, slugs, or tomato worms?

foreveramom: We really didn't have much of a pest problem. I learned early on that many of the herbs you can end up using in your kitchen also work as a repellent for many different types of bugs. So we planted herbs in our garden as well. Herbs can attract bees and butterflies to pollinate, or they can repel unwanted visitors. It just depends on what it is you want for your garden.

EuroMomTX: Since it is so dry here, we actually do not encounter these kinds of pests very frequently. Ants are a big problem for us, and I was surprised to find out how effective a mixture of orange oil and molasses has been for our ant problem. I do remember my mom used to trap snails by setting out a shallow dish filled with beer in between her plants for the snails to drown in. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that a healthy plant adapted to the environment it is grown in will be much more capable of surviving pests, etc.

Cafe Sheri: What organic method do you use to control weeds?

foreveramom: We used our hands.

EuroMomTX: LOL. Embrace the weed! After spending my first year here fighting the native vegetation and struggling to keep my stuff alive, I learned to work with it. I am growing more and more native plants that are capable of competing with weeds. Some weeds have actually turned out to be very useful, and our goats eat the really bad stuff like poison oak (and love it!). For the garden, I make pathways with old hay to cut off access to sunlight and limit weed growth.

Cafe Sheri: What greener living effort do you want to take on in 2009? 

foreveramom: We would like to recycle more and continue to find more new ways to have green products for our home, inside and out.

EuroMomTX: I think I am going to work more on reducing waste. We are already using a lot of cloth in place of paper, etc., but for a family of four, we still have a lot of trash.

That was great, foreveramom and EuroMomTX. You both make organic gardening sound very doable and enticing.

+++ What about you? What organic tips do you have for the garden?

More in the "I Got Green" series:

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