Tim McWelsh:Hi, I am Tim McWelsh of Earth Connection School of Wilderness Survival and Ancient Skills near Fredericksburg Virginia. This is our video series on Organic Gardening. In this clip we are going to talk about garden location and container location. Now let's say you have a little bit of land, maybe just a small backyard or maybe you have got a couple of acres. You want to pick the best soil for gardening on your property, and you want to consider the best soil with the best sunlight. Sunlight is such an important part to gardening. We need over 12 hours of direct sunlight every single day for our crops and vegetables and flowers and plants to do well. Now when the sun rises, we might want to see when it first pops over the trees or the buildings or whatever, mountains might be in the way. And then we time it, and we see how much sunlight we have before sunset and if we are in a spot where maybe the trees are low enough, or its open ground and we do get that 12 hours or better of sunlight from lets say, May up until August or September, then that's a good spot as far as the light is concerned. We can go to our counties offices which deal with soil science and pull up a soil map for our property. And find out what type of soil we have. There are literally dozens of different types of soil, and we can what we might have in different places on our property. The most ideal soil is going to be loam. Loam contains many different components; sand, silt, organic matter, air space, and lots of minerals. So if we can find a spot with loamy soil and 12 hours of sunlight, that's the best choice. Now where we place our garden beds in relation to that sunlight is important. If we have long beds like I recommend we want to place them on a North South Axis. So get out your compass and see which way is North, South, East, West. And if your long beds run from North to South, this will allow the sunrise, which is easterly, to come up and the sunlight hits our plants from the east, then in midday the sun is slightly to the South and its bathing the entire garden. And then as the sun starts to set in the afternoon, and head West, the light is hitting the other side of our plants. So the plants don't really have a chance to get blocked out by their own shadows. If we plant our tallest plants and even small tress in the North end of our garden then their shadows fall harmlessly outside of the garden and if we have our shortest tiniest plants in the South end of the garden, they don't shade anybody because of their height. So we would stairstep the height of our plants and for that information we can look at our different seed catalogues or our gardening books and see how tall different plants get. Corn can get over 10 feet tall, so it would be best suited in the North end of any garden. Lettuce, 6 or 12 inches tall, depending on the variety and that would be best in the South end of the garden. So you can see we would need to know what our plant is going to do to establish where we want it to be. So again we would look for best sunlight and the best soil on our property.
Now let's say we don't have a piece of property. We can still do organic gardening. We can grow our food in containers. Containers placement should happen some place where you have full sun, again for 11 or 12, or 13 hours a day, during the growing season, and our containers can be in a row on the North South Axis, just like we would do our beds in our garden or they could be individually, here and there. We can place our containers up against our house. We can place them on a sunny balcony. If you have a condo, townhouse, apartment and have a balcony on the South side of your building, that's an ideal place to have these containers. The East side or West side of your building may not have enough sunlight to grow most crops. You should be able to grow Lettuce and Spinach with the short day light hours that you would have on the East or West side of a building, the North side of the building is not going to grow very much, maybe some nice ferns or some mint or something that doesn't require very much light. So here in our container garden, we have some very good parting soil, loaded with organic fertilizer. We have three red cabbage plants, spaced very close together about 12 inches apart forming a triangle. This is the optimal close spacing for cabbage plants and similar sized plants. This lets them grow to full size and their extra leaves shade the soil, keep it cooler and moister and the shade on the soil discourages weed growth. In the middle I had brocoli which we have harvested, here's one tiny little side shoot of brocoli that we still can pick off and throw in our salad or throw in a pot of waters or cooked vegetable. And also in the soil, is a little volunteer potato plant because I had potatoes in this very same dirt last year. We can reuse our dirt in our containers providing we nourish it with some more fertilizer, because your plants do eat up some of the nutrients in the soil and we need to revitalize the soil before we use it again. So by simply adding some organic fertilizer and/or some good compost we can recharge the soil and get it ready to grow again. Now this large pot is something that threes are grown in and ideal for growing small plants like this, cabbage or lettuce or other types of smaller crops that don't require a lot of root space. But the holes down in the bottom here are going to provide us with some drainage and we can actually make a large container out of a clean garbage can and we will have more root space in that garbage can then we do in this small pot. So by drilling some holes in the bottom of a garbage can we allow excess water to run away so that our plants don't get water logged and start to get fungal issues and we can grow bigger plants like tomatoes in a garbage can. Now that we have talked about where to place our organic garden or our garden containers, let's talk about the importance of the soil in that organic garden or in that container.