Various marketplaces are making it increasingly harder to stay informed about what is in their products. Consequently, many shoppers are taking steps to better control where their food comes from. One great way to take matters into your own hands is to start your own organic garden. Whether you have a small patio or a large yard, here are a few tips for getting your hands dirty while harvesting tasty produce free of chemicals and genetically modified ingredients.
Preparing Your Soil
Experienced organic gardeners understand that successful gardening without chemicals starts with the quality of your soil. The most common problem for gardeners is soil that doesn’t drain properly. Consider adding items like perlite, mulch or sand to loosen your soil which will supply the plant with only the required amount of water. Regardless of soil structure, it’s important to add rich organic matter like compost and worm castings as a source of important nutrients in your soil. If you have extremely difficult soil, consider building raised beds where you have complete control over its makeup. If growing in pots, make sure you choose a potting soil, as the mix is better suited to a pot’s unique growing conditions.
Organic Weed Control
Whether growing organically or not, weeds are a serious issue. Weeds compete with your garden for water, sun and nutrients. As an organic gardener, you won’t be able to turn to traditional chemicals to help, but there are different methods in controlling these nuisances. One of the cheapest options is simply pulling weeds as they pop up. Installing a breathable weed block fabric below a layer of bark mulch can make keeping your weeds under control even easier. If you don’t want to spend money on weed block, consider laying down natural cardboard under mulch that will block the weeds while breaking down and feeding the organisms in your soil at the same time.
Natural Pest Control
Along with weeds, developing a pest control strategy is essential to a successful organic garden. Combat bugs like aphids and tomato worms by hand picking, spraying with your hose, or with natural spray products like neem oil. You can also rely on natural predators like birds, predatory insects like ladybugs and lacewings, or netting when it comes to squirrels or other mammals that can feed on your garden.
While it can feel challenging, when your harvest begins, you’ll be glad you joined the club alongside the many other successful organic gardeners around the world. Click here for more information on how to start your organic garden today.
As the weather heats up, so do grills across the country. Warm summer weather is synonymous with grilling season as families look to keep the house cool by turning the oven off and cooking outside. Here are a few tips to make your time outside on the grill more successful.
Take your Pick
Not all grills are created equal, but that doesn’t mean you need a top of the line expensive grill to have a successful barbecue. Your most important decision is gas vs charcoal. Both options will give you that grilled char, with gas being simple, convenient, and easier to control. However, charcoal provides an extra step of flavor, especially when combined with smoking woods like hickory or apple.
Bring the Flavor
While grilling naturally adds a caramelized smoky flavor to most anything you put on the barbecue, marinating or using dry rubs can take your flavor game to the next level. Making your own rub allows you to control flavors, spice, and heat, and it is easier than you may think. Once you have basic ingredients like paprika, granulated garlic, and cayenne, you can mix and match for endless flavor potential.
Master Your Temperature Zones
All grills have different hot spots, and mastering these spots is important to get a great crust. With gas grills, use burners to make one side hotter than the other. With coal, you’ll need to move more coals over to one side to create your own zones. Use cool zones for thoroughly cooking meats and vegetables and use the hot zones for searing and creating your outer crust on proteins
Clean While Hot
Nothing is worse than having to scrape down a severely dirty grill. However, this task can be simplified by cleaning right after you finish cooking. Once you’ve removed food from the grill, turn your grill up as high as it will safely go. Keep the lid closed and allow the heat to turn stuck on food into ash. The heat will help separate stuck on food from the grill grates, allowing you to easily wipe clean with a grill brush. Be sure to stay close by in case of grease flare-ups.
Now you’re primed with the right skills for a successful grilling season. For more information on grilling, check out these additional grilling resources for more tips on stepping up your grilling game.