Growing Herbs, Berries, Fruits and Nuts
When you think about organic gardening, most people lean towards the vegetables. Veggies are all well and good but don’t forget all the other different kinds of food you can grow even in a small home garden. Herbs, berries, other fruits and even nuts can all be harvested organically to add a little more variety to your table.
You really have two different kinds of fruit to choose from. There are regular fruit plants, like blueberries, strawberries and grapes and then you have all the large fruit trees as well. Smaller fruit plants will require some diligent gardening to protect your sweet harvest from slugs, bugs, birds and squirrels. The best organic protection is a covering of fine mesh netting, but some good all-natural insect sprays are a good idea as well.
Most fruit plants are perennials meaning they continue to grow year after year, so they are a relatively permanent part of the garden once you get started with them.
If you are going to grow fruit trees, you will have to plan out your space and make more long term decisions. They can take up to 5 years to start producing and they keep fruiting for decades more. Bugs are a big problem with fruit trees because they live for so long and it’s hard to continually keep the insect populations down. Thankfully, some of the most common sprays used for fruit trees are actually organic. Bordeaux mixture and dormant oil can be used by the organic grower so you can handle your trees much like a conventional grower would.
Herbs are fantastic to grow because they take up so little space, and you can just snip off a little when you need it for really fresh cooking. If you can grow your herbs indoors, you will have no insects or weeds to compete with so it will be easy to stay organic.
When growing herbs outdoors, you’ll have less to worry about anyway because their strong smells usually repel most bugs and even animal pests. Use a good organic bug spray (such as pyrethrum) and you should have little difficulty.
Few people think of nuts when it comes to a home garden. They seem too difficult or exotic or something. Peanuts can be grown in the garden if your climate is warm enough, and they grow underground kind of like potatoes. Otherwise, you’ll need a few trees for most other nuts. Walnuts, chestnuts, almonds and pecans are all pretty easy to grow. Just don’t plan on growing cashews. They are very difficult to grow and require far more processing to get the nuts once the fruit have matured.
One of the great things about nuts is that many of them are ripe to harvest once they have fallen from the tree so you actually harvest them up off the ground rather than have to get a ladder like you would with fruit.
Just like with fruit trees, you can use some of the traditional sprays and treatments to help keep the bugs and fungus at bay and still be organic.