Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gardening...Learning More

So, this summer has been hectic in the fact that we totally revamped our garden and made it bigger and more useful with the space we have. Instead of four small squares, we now have five, LONG, 16-foot raised beds along with two more shorter ones. The past month, I've been reading these books...

...which I highly reccommend. The first book is great for a beginning gardener living in Florida. Whether you live in north, central or southern Florida, this book is for you. The author, Robert Bowden, goes through each vegetable you might be interested in growing and tells you when to plant it, how to plant it, what type of soil the plant likes, etc. He also shares his experience in dealing with lovely Florida pests/bugs as well as our sandy soil.
The Contents pages shares the following:
How to get started, starting at the beginning with seeds, creating the perfect soil and watering your garden.
There are also chapters on specific fruits and veggies, pests, diseases and weeds.
The book is very visually stimulating (which I love!) and it's directed specifically to Florida gardens. Don't you love picking up a gardening book directed towards people who live up north and the first thing they tell you to grow in your garden are some APPLE TREES?! Duh, people. We can't grown apples down here! (With the exception of some genetically modified ones, which I'm to blame for purchasing...Anne Apples.)
The second book, Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening is a must-have! It's a book that I've been picking apart for weeks and have learned SOOO much. You name it, it covers it. It even touches on GM foods.
Anyway, speaking of genetically modified foods, I know it's controversial, but PLEASE take some time to read THIS ARTICLE and THIS ARTICLE. Even if you're not particuaraly interested in the topic. It involves the food you eat and you should know. In Rondale's Encyclopdia, he states this...
"G.M. crops have been introduced rapidly, without extensive testing, on the grounds that they are similar to unengineered crops. But the process involves ccreating gene combinations that could not have occurred naturally. Once released into the environment, genes that 'escape' from the G.M. parent plant, via soil bacteria or cross-pollination will be impossible to retrieve. Once incorporated into wild plants, we can only surmise what the outcome might be. At the time of this writing, no G.M. crops are available to gardeners, but developments on the horizon include peculiar colors, such as blue carnations and roses, grass that does not need mowing, and novel perfumes. This novelty may prove to be more costly than we can imagine."
A few facts from the articles above...

"Q: What will the impact of GM crops be on the environment?

A: Last year, 71 percent of all GM crops grown were genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant. A field can now be sprayed with chemicals and everything will die except for the resistant crop. The sales of one of the herbicides being used are predicted to rise by $200 million as a result. Graham Wynne, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says: "The ability to clear fields of all weeds using powerful herbicides which can be sprayed onto GM herbicide-resistant crops will result in farmlands devoid of wildlife and will spell disaster for millions of already declining birds and plants." There are also GM virus-resistant crops. Prof Joe Cummins says: "Probably the greatest threat from genetically altered crops is the insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into crops - genetic recombination will create virulent new viruses from such constructions. The widely used cauliflower mosaic virus (present in the GM soy and maize currently on supermarket shelves in the UK) is a potentially dangerous gene. It is very similar to the Hepatitis B virus and related to HIV. Modified viruses could cause famine by destroying crops or cause human and animal diseases of tremendous power."
"Q: Are we eating GM food?

A: GM soy is in about 60 percent of all processed food as vegetable oil, soy flour, lecithin and soy protein. GM maize is in about 50 percent of processed foods as corn, corn starch, corn flour and corn syrup. GM tomato puree is sold in some supermarkets and GM enzymes are used throughout the food processing industry. Government regulations on labeling exclude 95-98 percent of the products containing GM ingredients because they ignore derivatives."

Okay, so those are just a few facts that I dug up recently. I've actually ordered our seeds for our fall garden (don't wait too late or they'll be out). This fall, we'll be planting carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, cauliflower, pole beans, pumpkins (which I've already started in seedling pots), watermelon, potatoes, acorn squash, winter squash, pineapple, blackberries, strawberries, grapes and lots of herbs. :) I have the specific names for these and I'll have to do a post on them when they're actually growing and I can take a picture. For now, my seeds are enjoying their time in our refridgerator. As I said, I already have pumpkins growing and next come watermelon in late July. Then, the majority of the rest will be planted in the first week of September and some in the first week of October. I'll be following the gardening calendar of the book mentioned above (Guide to Florida Fruit and Vegetable Gardening), using the species of veggies/fruits that Mr. Bowden reccommends for our zone.
I've also recently started keeping a journal (just a spiral notebook) of notes from books read, map of our garden and what we're planting as well as empty seeds packets so I remember what we planted and for what year.
It's a weird feeling not having much growing now, but we're about to embark on a busy seed-planting time, so I can't wait for that!
Anyway, don't forget to buy those seeds. I highly reccommend buying from St. Claire's. The shipping is amazingly FAST and you won't be let down! Don't forget to get those pumpkin seeds in some soil and watered in time to have pumpkins for your fall festival!

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