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Tips for Successful Raised Bed Gardening

Sponsored in partnership with Kia

When my oldest son developed severe food allergies, I turned to food to help heal his overactive immune system. I found that by feeding him a plant-based diet with all organic produce that his allergies decreased, and he had fewer anaphylaxis reactions to food. The only downside was that feeding a family of five a diet rich with organic food was very costly, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I went to The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano and got information on how to start growing organic produce for my family in our backyard.

I had my husband tear out most of our grass in the backyard, build raised beds, and we got started on what we now call “The Barone Farm.” Over the years, I have successfully been able to grow all of our summer produce and a good portion of our winter produce right in our backyard. Not only am I able to feed my children the highest quality organic produce, but I’m also teaching them an important skill of knowing how to grow food once they start their families.

The key to my success of being able to grow produce in our backyard is to continually educate myself. My favorite way to learn new ways to help my garden blossom is by taking classes at The Ecology Center that are made possible because of sponsorships from great local companies like Kia.

Over Mother’s Day weekend, my daughter and I, went to The Ecology Center to take a class on raised beds and container gardening. I have always struggled with growing lettuce/swiss chard, and I wanted to learn some new tips for growing a “salad garden” in a raised bed.

The morning of the class, my daughter and I, drove to The Ecology Center in our Kia Sorento. We parked the car and then walked into The Ecology Center to learn these great tips on how to successfully grow food in raised beds.

The class was taught by Lucian Toma, who spent all his life growing food. The first thing that he taught the class was the importance of soil. He said something that made me look at gardening differently, “If you want life to happen above the ground, you have to have life below the ground.” He spent a long time talking to us about how soil is alive, how to bring soil back to life, and the perfect mixture to fill our raised beds with living soil. The best soil combination is 50% potting soil, 30% compost, and 20% coconut coir. He recommended the EcoScraps brand which is available at Lowe’s and Walmart.

Your plants are going to need good air flow, 6-8 hours of light, and lots of love. He recommended wood beds vs. plastic so that the soil can breathe. Feed your soil with compost, ensure that it has good moisture, and that the soil does not become compacted.

When it comes to pests, Lucian recommended inviting predators into your garden. Create a haven for lizards, and ladybugs to help with fighting off pests.

Once you are ready to start planting, Lucian recommended planting radishes, beets, root plants, and tender leafy greens by seeds. To have the most success with your garden, purchase the rest of your plants as seedlings. He recommended Plant Depot in San Juan Capistrano as a great source to find organic seedlings.

Finally, you’ll want to plan out your garden. Everyone’s garden is different, and planning a layout is not the same for every garden. If you need help with planning your garden, The Ecology Center has a service where they can assist with maximizing your space to grow the most amount of produce. Families are welcome to come into The Ecology Center to use the many resources they have available, ask questions or to hire them to assist you at your home.

After the class, we purchased some supplies from the store at The Ecology Center and loaded everything into the back of our Kia Sorento. We then went home and started assessing our soil, trying to make a decision whether to replace our plastic beds with wood, and worked on a plan of what plants we will grow this summer.

The Ecology Center offers classes on a regular basis. They are a great resource for families who are interested in making changes to live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. If every family makes just one small change in their household, it will make a tremendous impact on our Earth. The Ecology Center is located at 32701 Alipaz St, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675.

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One Comment

  1. I also prefer organic food, it has a lot of health benefits besides the other food. It is advised to grow your own gardening food. This will help you to cut food cost.

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