(ARA) - More homeowners are focusing on health by planting their own vegetable gardens this year, rejecting the rising cost of food and fuel, and pesticide-laden produce most often found in supermarkets.
Just about every environmental group in the United States, Canada and in Europe warns that store-bought produce is loaded with petro-chemical pesticides that build up in the human body. These chemicals are being blamed for many illnesses, from autism in children to cancer at all ages. Consider the following:
* Potatoes, lettuce and cucumbers have the highest concentration of pesticides, according to the United States Department of Agriculture'sits annual crop report.
* A major study by the New York State Department of Health directly links pesticides to diabetes, now one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States.
* The environmental group Global Pesticide Campaign warns that glyphosate used in Roundup causes auto-immune deficiencies in children and the elderly.
* Cornell University says carbyl, an ingredient in Sevin insect dust and liquid, has been linked to Parkinson's disease.
* Purdue University warns "weed and feed" type lawn chemicals have caused bladder cancer in dogs. An Ohio K-9 corps reports several of their dogs developed cancer by coming in contact with chemical fertilizers around their dog pens. Consequently, the federal government is urging veterinarians to report all cancer in animals as an early warning sign for man.
Growing your own pesticide-free food is easy and there's nothing healthier and as good tasting as produce picked at maturity right in your back yard. Using organic methods, follow these few simple steps.
1. Prepare your garden the old fashioned way. Rent a roto-tiller and turn over the earth in a given plot exposing the earth to the sun and the rain. In early spring, hard rake the earth and break up the clumps. Dig a 5-inch deep trench around the plot and fill with sharp stones. This stops voles from burrowing into the garden. Sprinkle the earth with Milky Spore powder to do away with white grubs that eat away at the roots of garden plants. Milky Spore was developed by the USDA, is nontoxic and approved for organic farming by the manufacturer.
2. Begin by planting early "cool season" crops like spring onions, lettuce, radishes, green peas, Chinese cabbage, broccoli and turnips. A trip to your local garden center will provide you with lots of growing ideas. Don't pick seeds that have been genetically altered like GM corn, soy or wheat. These seeds contain the DNA of pesticides. Buy old fashioned "heirloom" seeds that your grandfather planted. Use organic fertilizer, not the chemical kind.
3. As the season warms up and the bugs arrive, control them with "organic insecticides." A simple dusting of plants with diatomaceous earth stops almost all bugs. Organic liquid sprays knock down flying bugs without contaminating the crops. Organic repellents keep away deer, hedge hogs, rabbits and other animals.
4. Put in companion plants such as mint and other herbs that repel insects and bugs. Plant watermelon, tomatoes and other great garden crops. Plant blackberries and raspberries as these keep coming back year after year and require little attention. Just a few blackberries contain more vitamin C than an orange.
5. When weeds arrive, pull them out by hand, or, selectively spray them with an organic weed killer.
If you do buy produce at the supermarket, be sure to wash it with warm water, then spray with white vinegar. Mix one part white vinegar to one part water. This helps dissolve the pesticide residue. Let sit for 30 minutes, then wash again but with cold water.
You will be surprised at how bountiful a home garden can be and by the second year you might be planning to enlarge the original plot to include a bigger variety than the first time around. Courtesy of ARAcontent