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Center for Earth Leadership explains why growing your own food helps the environment, and your body.

     -     Why we care

Conventional food production is efficient in meeting our nation's short-term need for food but is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, much of them for synthetic fertilizers. These fertilizers produce excess nitrogen which, along with pesticides, contaminates water supplies. Industrial agriculture also causes large-scale erosion and depletes the soil of nutrients.

Homegrown, organic vegetables, on the other hand, are tastier and have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early. They don't require synthetic fertilizers, long-distance shipping, or packages to preserve freshness. They save you money and increase self- sufficiency.

Simple, practical steps

For new gardeners:

1. Review Growing Your Own prepared by the OSU Extension Service.

2. Start small, perhaps just tomatoes and cucumbers the first year.

3. Choose a garden spot that receives at least six hours of sun per day.

4. Make sure soil is dry enough to work.

5. Add up to 3 inches of high-quality organic compost.

6. Till at least 6 inches deep to distribute the compost.

7. Check planting guides for your location or talk to experienced gardeners to determine what to plant when.

8. Test the temperature of the soil before planting.

9. Plant organic seeds or seedlings according to directions.

10. Keep soil moist with a soft spray. After plants come up, water deeper and less frequently using a soaker hose.

Whether you are a new or experienced gardener, your county Master Gardeners are a great resource when you have questions: http://extension.oregonstate.edu/mg/metro/

Questions or feedback? Contact Jeanne Roy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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