Having a garden has a lot of advantages. Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs saves you money at the grocery store on food, jams and jellies, flavorings, medicines, and even homemade gifts.
Plus, food just doesn’t get any fresher, tastier, or healthier than picking it out of your own garden! Enjoy being frugal while increasing your quality of life with a food garden.
These tips will get you started and help your garden thrive:
Step 1: Decide what you’re going to grow.
What does your family like to eat?
Step 2: Decide how much you’re going to grow and how much space you’ll need.
Keep in mind that some vegetables, like squash, tomatoes, and peppers produce continuously, while others, like carrots and corn, only produce once. Most new garden owners tend to get a little carried away and take on a garden that’s bigger than they need.
Step 3: Find the perfect spot.
In general, your garden will grow better if it receives a lot of sunlight. It also must drain well, so the soggy spot in the back corner of the yard isn’t what you’re looking for.
Also, consider traffic in your yard; children and pets can be more harmful to the garden than a pesky rabbit. If you live in a dry area, you must locate your garden where you’ll be able to provide water.
Step 4: Good soil helps!
Ask your local nursery for advice about the soil in the area. You can even have it tested. In general, you want soil that’s not too loose (sand) and not too solid (clay). Either sand or organic matter can be added to the soil to improve its quality.
Step 5: Prepare the soil.
A tiller makes easy work of the job; rent or borrow one. A shovel makes for good exercise. Combine any sand or organic material with the soil and rake everything smooth.
Step 6: Plant your garden.
Follow the directions on the seed packets or seedlings. Be sure to space properly, plant at the proper depth, and plant at the proper time for your area.
Step 7: Maintain.
Gardens need two things after they’ve been planted: watering and weeding. Most new gardeners tend to over-water. Things have to dry out from time to time to prevent mold or fungus from developing. The soil should stay soft.
Drenching it twice a week is sufficient in most locations in the middle of summer. A light watering every day tends to encourage shallow root growth, so deep watering once or twice a week is better for forming deep roots and healthy plants.
Spend a few minutes each day pulling any weeds. They can take over the garden quickly. Hint: if you have the space, plant your rows with enough spacing to allow your rake to fit between the rows. Then you can quickly drag the rake through to pull the weeds out.
Having a garden is a fair amount of work upfront and a small amount of work each day, but you’ll soon find that your efforts are well worth it. Enjoy!