New campaign gets budding gardeners off to healthy start
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Robyn Boyle on backyard gardening
It’s easy to see why gardening is a growing trend, as it’s economical and even healthy. Studies show that people who grow their own fruit and veg tend to eat more fruit and veg in general. Not to mention that rooting around in the soil is a meditative and low-impact form of exercise.
And yet there are more people, still, whose dream of growing their own food remains just that: a dream. What’s stopping these would-be farmers from planting a few seeds out back?
Because there’s more to it than that. For starters, is the soil optimal? Is the plot next to a busy road or other pollutant? Is there a patch of grass available for the chickens? What do the plants need to thrive?
To answer these questions, among others, and provide a wealth of information on the subject, the government of Flanders teamed up with several partners to launch the new campaign Gezond uit eigen grond (Healthy Homegrown).
Presented recently by Flemish environment and agriculture minister Joke Schauvliege, the initiative includes a new website and practical guide. The Gezond uit eigen grond site lists the most important rules of thumb for healthy gardening and raising happy, organic-egg-laying hens.
Start by filling out an online questionnaire to quickly determine the state of your soil and get advice on making it garden-ready. There are even instructions on how to take a sample of your soil and find out the results online. Should the soil turn out to be too contaminated, raised garden beds provide a great alternative.
Next, pick out the best possible location for your garden, taking into account sunlight, shelter from rain and wind and distance from buildings or traffic. When it’s time to start sowing seeds, learn why it’s important to plant lettuce next to carrots, for example, or tomatoes next to strawberries. The right combinations of plants are important, but so are correct watering schedules and disease prevention.
Gezond uit eigen grond might just be the impetus needed for those still hesitant to turn the dream of a backyard garden into reality.
Flemish agriculture and horticulture
percent of Belgium’s fruit harvest comes from Flanders
agriculture businesses in Flanders in 2011
people employed in Flemish agriculture and horticulture in 2011