Whether you want to enjoy a healthier diet, spend more time outside or save on your grocery bill, there are plenty of reasons to start growing food in your own backyard.
The problem is that growing food is a new practice for many of us, especially those living in built-up city areas, and the prospect of starting from scratch can be daunting.
Still, as recognition of the benefits of fresh, organic, healthy food continues to snowball, people of all ages are embracing the idea.
In fact, if you’re considering making the switch to home-grown, there has never been a better time to embrace a new lifestyle – and the tips below make it easy to get started.
Making the plan
Just like so many other pursuits in life, the planning that goes into your gardening venture will play a significant role in determining your success. Simply considering the kind of plants you’d like to grow and what you’d like your vegetable garden to look like is a great starting point.
This will also give you a fairly solid basis for ordering any materials you might need, whether you plan to plant directly into the ground, build a raised garden bed or try another alternative approach.
Selecting the vegetable to grow
The right vegetables for your home garden will depend on several factors, from the weather conditions and the amount of space required to the tastes and preferences in your household. Unless you intend to sell or give away the vegetables you grow, it’ll be best to start with produce your family wants to eat. It’s also important to consider the level of care and attention each type of produce requires – and thanks to the internet, this information is straightforward to find. If you’re interested in growing onions at home, for example, you can simply type this phrase into any search engine and receive a torrent of useful information in return. Just be sure to consider the qualities of each produce variety before buying seeds or plants – this way, you’ll be more likely to find your plant personality match the first time around.
Finding the perfect spot in your backyard
The success (or failure) of your backyard garden plans depends largely on weather conditions and levels of sun or shade. For this reason, location is key, but there are more options than it may seem – even for those who live on a small block. If your backyard is large, you’ll want to consider the sun first when positioning your garden patch – specifically, how much sun your chosen plants will need. On the other hand, homeowners with small (or non-existent) yards may need to explore creative space-saving solutions, like stacking seedling pots on trellises or hanging them from a beam on the roof. These options make it possible to grow almost anything you like without taking up valuable backyard space.
Knowing your soil
Once you have the right spot and the correct seeds, the soil is the next crucial ingredient for a successful start – and not just any soil will do. In fact, attempting to plant seeds or even established plants in dry, damaged soil that lacks nutrients is unlikely to yield any positive outcomes. That’s why it’s so important to test and adjust soil pH before you start your garden, and whenever you notice any signs of trouble with your plants. You’ll also need to do some research into the conditions each plant species prefers, from the type of soil to the level of moisture. With a range of soil types including alkaline to clay, wet to dry, and acidic to basic, there’s plenty of terminology growers should know.
Just as different fruits and vegetables require different amounts of sunlight each day, they follow different watering schedules also, with some needing more to drink than others. As a general rule, watering your produce every second day – aiming for a total of one inch of water per week – will keep the plants happy and thriving. Still, it’s important to do your research before planting so that you can get the best return from your investment.
Even if you’ve never grown food in your backyard, the right guidance (and a little patience) will set you up for success. Before you know it, you’ll be growing, cooking and eating your own healthy, organic produce, and once you experience the benefits – for your health, your state of mind and your wallet – you’ll never want to go back.