Why do people choose to grow their own food? Well, besides the fact that it’s much healthier to eat fresh, your grocery bill will also dramatically dwindle as you stock your pantry with fresh produce from your backyard. According to Amanda Kraft of Food Matters, there’s no need to count calories once you start eating food without labels.
If you want to be more self-sufficient and enjoy better-tasting food, growing your own edible garden is the way to go. Besides, producing your own food lets you know exactly what you’re putting inside your body.
You don’t need to be a master gardener to produce your own organic food. Don’t worry too much about your lack of a green thumb. A few good tips from seasoned landscaping gardeners and the right amount of hard work is all you need. If you fail on your first attempt, don’t give up and keep trying until you finally get it right.
So before you plant a single seed, should consider these steps for starting your edible garden.
Step 1 – Find the right amount of sunshine.
Four to six hours of direct sunlight is needed by edible plants. If you live in a home that’s very restricted in space and sunlight, there are many plant options to choose from that fit your conditions.
But even if luck is on your side and you have a nice sunny spot, you still have to be careful not to overexpose your plants to too much sunlight. After all, it’s easier for a mere mortal to create shade than create the sun. Also, try to choose a spot protected from the wind.
Step 2 – Consider your planting space.
Do you have a backyard or enough floor space to spare? If not, there’s a solution for that. You can try hanging pots on the wall. Do research online on how to build a sturdy vertical wall garden so that you could hang your pots or pocket planters.
And if you do have enough space to plant in the ground, you still have to evaluate your soil conditions and find out if it’s ideal for growing edible plants. What type of soil do you have in your space? Knowing your soil will help you understand how to amend and make it ideal for growing your plants.
Test your soil
To determine what type of soil you have – clay, loam, or sandy – you can use this simple test and gather the following materials:
- Clean empty jar with lid
- Clean water
- Sample of your soil
- Tablespoon of detergent
Fill 1/3 of the jar with your soil. Add the clean water and detergent then cover it with the lid. Shake the jar and set it aside overnight. Check the results:
If the soil has settled to the bottom and the water is clear, you have sandy soil.
If the water is muddy with suspended matter in it, you have loam soil.
If there’s a visible sediment ring around the jar and the water is still muddy, you have clay soil.
There are three options for your soil. You could either plant on the ground, in raised beds, or in containers. Choose what’s convenient for your available area. Make sure you have a planting space clear of any grass and weeds, you can either do it yourself with a sod cutter or hire gardening services to get the job done.
Step 3 – Choose what to grow.
As easy as it sounds, climate is a huge factor to consider when creating your edible garden. There are some plants that can’t thrive in tropical areas and may require you to have a greenhouse.
If this is your first time growing an edible garden, you can opt to start small, with plants that are easy to grow. Here are five easy vegetables you could try.
Tomatoes grow best in the ground with a slightly cooler climate. Once these are planted in a spot with full sun, they will be productive. Plant your tomato starters deeply by burying the stem up to its lowest leaves for a strong root system. This will sprout roots all along the lengths of the stems.
- Herbs (Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, Chives, and Rosemary)
These types of herbs grow anywhere. Plus, they help liven up your cooking. You can easily plant them in small containers or right in the ground around larger plants.
Just like herbs, zucchinis grow prolifically. Its flowers are delicious as well. One or two zucchini plants should be enough for a start.
During spring and fall, radishes grow quickly. You can already eat them about a month from the time you planted the seeds.
Who isn’t fond of fries or roasted potatoes? Now that you grow potatoes in your backyard, you’ll have an unlimited supply. You can grow them out of potato seeds or by simply cutting chunks that have eyes and drying them out for a few days before planting them. Potatoes grow best in raised beds with a soil that has lots of nutrients.
Choosing what to grow still boils down to your personal preference. Planting foods that you love is a good idea to take your interest further in gardening. Once you already have some experience, growing other edible plants will come easy. You’ll need to have your own basic gardening tools as well such as a rake, spade, scissors, and a watering can to aid you in planting.
Step 4 – Provide constant love and care.
All plants need a great deal of attention and those in your edible garden is no exception. They will need tons of care, which includes watering, pruning, and checking for pests and diseases. Any garden will flourish as long as it is handled with care. It doesn’t mean that once your garden is up and running, you can simply leave it to tend itself.
Remember that too much care could also kill your plants. Overwatering can be a problem so you should touch the soil of your plants and feel if it’s no longer damp before you water it again. Go for organic fertilisers since you are growing an edible garden. You can make compost at home or visit a garden shop near you to buy organic fertilizer. Also, see to it that you perform regular garden maintenance to ensure your plants are in their best of health, and remove weeds that are taking over their space and stealing their nutrients.
Growing plants is a tedious task, but once done right, all your efforts will be rewarded. Get on the road to good health by growing edibles in your garden. You don’t only enjoy 100% homegrown organic food, but you also get to live a healthier life.