I’m proud to present a preview of Master (Organic) Gardner Lee O’Hara’s Organic Gardening Made Easy DVD. While I usually spotlight organic pioneers in Texas, I realize not all the viewers live in Texas. Lee O’Hara is an organic gardener in California who has done what I dream of one day accomplishing- turning his yard into an organic vegetable garden which produces 80% to 85% of his food. Lee accomplishes this without chemical pesticides and herbicides.
I own The Organic Tomato and his Organic Gardening Made Easy DVDs and I highly recommend’em both. Lee steps you through the process of how to get started with simple directions that even *I* can follow.
This video is already posted on YouTube, but I wanted to highlight here to help spread the word about how important it is people learn how to grow their own food & feed their family healthily. This video is used with permission and I receive no money / commission for plugging it. I really enjoyed’em both and hope you pick up a copy at Lee’s website: http://www.organichomegardener.com/
Our home is on a small hillside lot at the northeast edge of Los Angeles, between Glendale and Pasadena. We probably have one of the best climates in the US for gardening, but we do have our handicaps. Topsoil is rare. Its been scraped away for homes and buildings. We get virtually no rain from about mid-April through about mid-October or November.
We have June Gloom every year, starting about mid-May, and continuing sometime until the 1st or 2nd week in July. During much of that period, well get 2-3 hours of afternoon sun, with the rest of the day being foggy and over-cast.
Over the past 24 years Ive turned our front and back yards into raised planting beds. At first it was just with the intention of creating retaining walls, but soon escalated into growing vegetables organically. The term Organic, in farming or gardening, means using fertilizers and pest controls that come only from plants and animals.
One of my original actions was to keep records and statistics on what I did, and what the results were at the end of the season. I wanted to know exactly how effective my new methods were. The results were so consistent year after year, and more or less incomparable according to everything I could find about what one can expect from any given vegetable plant. Year after year I was getting 20-30 lbs. of foot long burpless cucumbers per seed, 30 lbs. of yellow zucchinis per seed, ¾ lbs. of green beans per seed, 100+ Japanese eggplants per plant, 40-50 bell peppers per plant, 30 lbs. of leaf lettuce from a planting bed of 15 sq. ft., etc.
As I comment on in the film, Organic Gardening Made Easy, we give away more than half of what I grow. The truth is that its more like 80-85%. After a few years, the habit of weighing and counting everything became boring. I stopped weighing and counting everything, unless I was trying something new. As in the case of last year when for the first time I planted two sweet potatoes Id bought at the supermarket. I can tell you that four and a half months later when I dug them up I had 20 lbs. of them, with the biggest sweet potato weighing in at 3.25 lbs. But I didnt quit keeping daily yield statistics in the case of my tomatoes!
For instance, the 7 Beefmaster tomato plants currently still growing on October 29 October, a few inches high on April 15th when I planted them in their 20′ by 4′ garden bed – produced 805 lbs. of “amazing” tomatoes between July 12th and October 20th. As they dont still have the full rich flavor they had in mid-summer, I quit counting with maybe another 20-30 lbs. still ripening on the vines. My wife protests that, saying that theyre still 10 times better than anyone can buy.
Be that as it may, having had to do without a decent tomato for many years, my standards for tomatoes are very high. I dont count or weigh anything Im not willing to confess that I grew.
The full statistics on the 2007 tomato crop were:
1) From an eighty square foot raised bed (20′ x 4′)
2) 7 tomato plants
3) 805 lbs. of tomatoes harvested
4) An average of 115 lbs. of tomatoes per plant
5) The total number of tomatoes; 1,386, or 198 per plant
6) The average weight per tomato; 9.3 ounces
7) The largest tomatoes: Several at 2.25 lbs each
While I may be a world-class braggart, the point I want to make is that anyone can do it. If tomatoes dont do well in your particular climate, vegetables that do well in your climate will do immensely better with the kind of gardening practices youre starting to read about.