Grow Your Own Organic Produce

By Bob McClendon



Growing your own food can be a fun project that yields healthy results.  Here are my tips to help you to start or make the best of your own garden at home:

1)    Use with organic seeds: The main difference between organic and conventional seeds is that organic seeds cannot be coated with chemicals to prevent the seeds from molding after they are planted. The seeds are produced by certified organic growers using all-natural techniques. Organic seeds can be bought locally or ordered online.

2)    Select good soil and start your plants inside: Soil is the foundation for successful planting. Good soil should contain 10 to 20% composted organic matter and a little sand so that your plants drain propserly. Once you have purchased your soil, you can begin the growing process right in your own kitchen by planting your seeds in starter trays and then transplanting them outside when the weather permits.

3)    Promote growth without chemicals: To promote growth without using chemicals, use pre-plant fertilizer (organic fertilizer that you incorporate into the soil before planting your seeds).  The two best options for pre-plant fertilizers are composted chicken manure (not raw) and earthworm castings. Composted chicken manure provides the best nutrition for plants, but can be difficult to find, whereas earthworm castings can be purchased almost anywhere.

4)    Watering: The vast majority of plants do not like to be wet all the time. Most garden plants like to be watered in a cyclical fashion; watered well using high quality water and then dried out before repeating the process again. Tomatoes, for example, need to dry nearly to the point of wilting before they’re watered again. If they’re stressed a bit, they’ll yield better-tasting produce.

5)    Embrace the therapeutic powers: Take time to embrace the therapeutic values of tending a garden – like the fact that it can reduce stress, provides an outlet for physical activity, and serves as a calming exercise – in your own backyard.


Bob McClendon from McClendon's Select organic farm helped to create and now operates a 25-acre working farm at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) Western Regional Medical Center, one of the only hospitals in the nation providing a farm-to-hospital bed approach aimed at helping to address the malnutrition often experienced by cancer patients in treatment. The farm not only provides healthy foods for the hospital’s foodservice, but patients also get therapeutic benefits from “farming” the land themselves. 

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