Plant A Healthy Vegetable Garden On Your Lawn

By Susan Honeywell

Lawns may look good, but they are unproductive, require a lot of care, and are environmentally unfriendly due to the high use of pesticides and fertilizers necessary to maintain them. As even the White House has discovered, turning a lawn into an organic vegetable garden is a much better use for the land.

Don't be put off by the idea of organic vegetable gardening being a strenuous and unrewarding physical activity involving lots of tilling. If you follow this easy guide and some easy principles, you won't have to do any tilling and you'll turn your lawn into a garden with real ease.

Start by marking off the area for your organic vegetable garden with string. The White House's vegetable garden is about thirty feet by thirty feet square, which is enough to feed a large family. But to start, you could do with a quarter of that space. Water the area thoroughly.

Next you need to add an area of ground mulch that contains some slow-release nutrients. A good mix is half-finished compost, grass clippings from the lawn, manure, rock phosphate, and sand. Finish off by covering the whole area with four to five overlapping sheets of newspaper.

Now build a raised bed frame around the whole area for your organic vegetable garden, providing for walk paths if the area is big. It's best to use solid, untreated wood planks. You can add dividing frames if you like. The previous paper layer needs to stick out from the sides of the main frame.

The frames of the raised beds for your vegetable garden need to be filled with more organic compost, this time mixed with normal organic soil and some vermiculite for aeration.

You should now leave everything as it is for at least a couple of weeks, ideally for a month. In this time, your old lawn and the organic materials on top will decompose, with the help of earthworms that will return to the previously sterile earth, and everything will turn into a fertile mixture for your seeds.

For planting, seedlings that have been grown in a greenhouse, inside the house or at a nursery are preferable to putting seeds in the earth right away. But both methods can be used. Organic herb and vegetable seeds are easily available through online stores.

When you choose the edible plants for the organic vegetable garden that used to be your lawn, pick a mix of herbs, pulses and vegetables, paying attention to seasonality and to the produce that is usually eaten in your family, and that you will soon be able to grow yourself instead of buying it at the grocer's.

If you have any children, make sure to involve them in the project early on, you will find that they will be very interested and fascinated by organic vegetable gardening, and will probably enthusiastically participate in the work, which is also going to be very character-building for them.

As for compost, you should start one or two composting heaps right away, as they will supplement and enrich your organic vegetable garden. You can supplement the compost from local materials, such as unused wood chippings from a local carpenter or the grass clippings from your neighbour's lawn. - 29857

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