If you are a novice gardener looking to establish your own vegetable garden, you may be wondering how to begin. Furthermore, you may also be looking at where a garden fits if you have a small or limited space. Growing vegetables and fruit provides greater peace of mind about your food consumption as you know what went in it. We give pro tips on how to grow your own food.
If you haven’t done this before, you may feel like there is a large learning curve to backyard gardening. At the most basic level, growing your own food just involves placing a seed in fertile soil, watering it at the appropriate intervals, and watching as it matures. However, there are a few nuances to consider. Many depend on your situation and location.
How to Grow Your Own Food – 7 Professional Tips
There are several tips to use along the way when you are building your own vegetable or fruit garden. They may sound basic – like using potting soil – but there is a science to it. We walk you through what to do from the very start so that your garden has a strong foundation to produce a bountiful harvest.
1. Growing a Garden Takes Good Soil
Vegetables, edible plants, and leafy greens require nutrients. These are found in the soil you use, or in a regular addition of fertilizer. Fertilizer doesn’t have to be synthetic. It can be organic if you don’t want any chemicals or pesticides near your food.
Commercial fertilizers may not be fully natural and will increase your cost. However, homemade composting offers a natural alternative for fertilization, and it’s free! There are also organic fertilizers on the market if you don’t have the space for a compost pile. When providing soil for your plants, consider all three options.
Planting food that is being consumed always means that people are concerned about what is used in their garden. Most people don’t want what is included in a synthetic fertilizer, so they opt for more organic methods.
Another thing to consider is that soil in a new garden doesn’t hold moisture well. Water tends to drain beyond the roots of the plants and often doesn’t have adequate nutrients.
Creating good soil for your organic gardening project involves adding rotting manure, mulch, and compost to introduce nutrients back into the soil. Avoid using chemical fertilizers to improve your soil, as they deplete it and are bad for the environment.
Mulch and compost boost nutrient content and allow it to maintain proper moisture balance. Mulch prevents weeds from cropping up. While it decomposes, it also adds nutrients back into the soil. Vegetables are easier to grow and thrive in this environment.
2. A Bit of Planting Advice
What you want to grow in your backyard garden will differ from your neighbors. Yet beginning a garden and growing your own food is always a great solution no matter what you decide to plant. Here are some things to consider when planning a garden for your space: Is it small? Is your time limited? Are you in a dry climate? These all factor into what you choose to plant.
3. What Type of Vegetables to Grow?
There is so much you can consider when it comes to planting food. However, a great place to begin is with your favorite items. There is nothing better than snacking on fresh vegetables while working in your garden. Planting food you enjoy increases the reward of the experience. Gardening will be a higher value to you.
You may also want to think about what you buy the most. If you cook with a lot of tomatoes, you may save money by growing your own. Plus, they will never go to waste. Avoid planting food that you won’t use on a consistent basis as there’s nothing worse than seeing your hard work go to waste.
If you are a beginner, you may want to begin with cool season crops. They are planted during spring and again in fall. They don’t thrive over the summer, so if you keep it in mind, these vegetables are easy to grow. Cool vegetables are radishes, arugula, sugar snap peas, snow peas, Swiss chard, and green onions.
For summertime, you can consider crops that love the sun. Just be sure that you don’t plant too soon as they may not thrive or may be lost to a late frost. These vegetables are tomatoes, summer squash, basil, beans, peppers, tomatillo, and cucumbers. Select veggies that will grow easily in your location, and you won’t be disappointed.
4. How to Grow Herbs
There are many reasons to grow herbs in a garden. A good herb can flavor food or treat minor medical issues. Herbs can also be used to steep into your tea and can be stored/dried for cooking use.
The easiest herbs to grow are:
- Lemon verbena
Herbs will thrive in good soil, provided the drainage is good. Lavender, bay, and rosemary thrive in sharply drained, gritty soil due to the roots. If there is too much moisture, they suffer from root rot.
Herbs thrive in areas that receive full sun for six-plus hours a day. Avoid areas that are exposed or too windy. Place them next to other structures or against walls to create a warm shelter and increase your chances of success.
5. Growing Food in Small Spaces
When there isn’t much space to grow food, making the most of the space you do have becomes important. If your space is tiny, think about terracing your garden space. For steep and awkward areas, it provides easier access to care for plants and prevents erosion.
You can also plant in usual places, use container gardening, grow vertically, or incorporate square foot gardening. Square foot gardening incorporates the use of small garden beds and uses a special planting mix. This allows for the best plant production.
6. How to Plant Food Crops for a Good Harvest
There isn’t a best way to plant a garden. From starting in less-than-perfect conditions to thinking about how to get a large harvest, there is a solution to every situation. Most of this involves knowing how to maximize your space, knowing how much to plant, and choosing the best crops.
When planting, always leave enough room for plants to grow. You don’t want to plant them too close as growth potential is limited. You also don’t want to plant too deep, otherwise they won’t receive the nutrients and sun they need to grow.
You also want to plant the best food crops for your location. This involves knowing what will thrive in your garden. You also need to examine what type of backyard you have, where you’ll place the garden, and how much sunlight it will receive. These are all factors in growing the best vegetables. Too much sun and some plants will die. Too little and others won’t thrive.
You will also need to know how much your crop will yield in terms of space needed.
7. Natural Pest Control Methods
Pests and insects are always a problem when planting food crops. Not only that, but animals like rabbits can also damage your food. As frustrating as it is, refrain from using harsh poison. You will not want it anywhere near the food.
Common issues and solutions are:
White fly – These animals lay eggs on plants, preventing growth. When watering plants, they rise in a cloud. This is the first indication. The treatment is to vacuum up adults once they’re discovered. Dispose of the bag immediately somewhere far away from plants. Diatomaceous earth placed on your soil surface prevents larvae from growing.
Damping off – Plants begin growing well, but stems later become thin at the surface of the soil. They quickly break and die. This occurs from too frequent watering. It allows a fungus to grow. To prevent it, begin with slightly dried soil or try sprinkling your soil with cinnamon as it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Chlorosis –Leaves turn pale and have prominent green veins. This doesn’t happen with the first growth of baby lettuce. However, it may happen after the second or third cutting. The green veining in the leaves indicates a lack of magnesium.
Magnesium is essential to provide chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is essential in creating photosynthesis. This problem is resolved by watering using Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulphate. One teaspoon of Epsom salts should be mixed with one-quart cool water. Mix until the salts fully dissolve. It can be incorporated as a foliar spray.
Summing Things Up
There are many professional tips when it comes to how to grow your own food in your outdoor living spaces. We walked you through what to do as a beginner and being mindful of your space. Location and climate always play a key role in plant selection. These will influence what you choose to plant and how well they do in each area.