Getting Started With an Organic Garden

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner
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 When I began gardening in 1974 I didn’t know anything about growing vegetables. My husband and I had low-cost tools from the hardware store — nothing special. We bought seeds off the rack and plants wherever we happened to find them. When I did begin to order seeds, however, the Burpee and Parks seed companies were still owned by the Burpee and Parks families and the general public was completely unaware of what was coming with genetically modified crops. There were no community programs offered that mentioned organic gardening — except one. About 1979 the local library was having someone speak on organic gardening one evening. I was so excited to go. Having to work around two young children, I arrived after the speaker had introduced himself, so I didn’t find out how he happened to be there. Since the program ran late,  I had to leave before it finished and wasn’t able to connect with anyone who attended. It was inspiring, but there were no more programs like that. I found out much later that the speaker was asked to give the talk because he was always donating organic gardening books to the library.

Our paths crossed again twenty years later. This time I was the teacher and he was the student. He had retired and was taking classes at the community college when I began teaching there. The program at the college was conventional horticulture and when he found out there was going to be a class on organic vegetable growing he was one of the first to sign up. All those years had passed and no community programs had developed in that time. He and I had both depended on Organic Gardening magazine and the books published by Rodale Press to jump-start our learning and we took it from there. MOTHER EARTH NEWS was a great help to our homesteading activities.

These days there is more information available than a person can absorb and sometimes it’s hard to sort it all out. You don’t need to read everyone’s opinion about something on the web or see all their garden pictures before you put in your own garden. You can just dig up a spot and get started like I did. If you need help, find a resource to focus on and go from there. I hope that my videos and blog provide that focal point for many. The learning is in the doing. You will soon have some experiences of your own to share. Growing your own food is the thing to do and you should be able to find a local group with similar interests. If not, start one. You could begin by giving a talk at your local library. Sponsoring a public showing of my videos is a good way to attract like-minded folks. You don’t need any special permission from me or pay any additional fee to do that. You can make hard-copies of the worksheets from the CD to use with participants/students in your own teaching, all with proper credit to Homeplace Earth, of course. What you do not have permission to do is to make copies of the DVDs and CDs themselves.

You can find more tales of my early gardening experiences at Homeplace Earth. We are living in exciting times and the momentum is building for a local food supply. There are farmers markets and community gardens sprouting up everywhere.  If you are not already part of the fun, just step in and get started. 

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