Food gardening was once has been concluded as an activity that is limited to the elderly and people from the countryside who are socially awkward. However, growing fruits, vegetables, berries, and herbs have become increasingly popular for many people.
Nowadays, gardening has been viewed as a therapeutic activity by many people. The current situation that we are battling with has been causing people a lot of mental health problems which led to the deteriorating efficacy of their physical ability daily. Gardening has become a new tool or outlet to divert depression and turn it into something that is beautifully productive.
Food gardening can make a huge difference in your finances. The joy that we can get by growing our own food can certainly help us throughout the years. Personally, homegrown foods taste better and It allows some degree of control over food quality problems, including the use of pesticides and artificial additives. Growing food is commonly distorted, and numerous individuals begin without a technique or a reasonable thought of the time and cash that’s required. Fortunately, whether you're removing your gardening gloves after a season or looking for better results, there are still plenty of ways to improve.
1. Learn Your Environment
Many people pick a random spot to start planting or growing their food. However, we need to consider that plants are living things and they have preferences too. Before you start your home garden, you should have considered and analyze your location to know the kind of plants that you should grow.
2. Consider Sunlight and Shade
Before you decide where or what to install or what to do, decide how much sunlight your garden will be exposed to. Most food-carrying plants like exposure to sunlight for 6 to 10 hours per day. Also, some crops, such as citrus, require special attention for long periods of time or in strong sunlight. For example, stalks and pruning of citrus fruits are prone to "striking" and incurable "soot fungal disease" if the limbs are not protected.
Some plants can tolerate partial shades ranging from 4 to 6 hours, but it is to be expected that plants often grow smaller, will render smaller produce and are less productive. You need to increase the number of growing plants to get the harvest you need when planting in the shade. However, it can be a worthwhile compromise, as there are few weeds that grow in the shade.
3. Identify Your Soil
Knowing your soil type is important when it comes to growing your food. The soil in your backyard can be sandy, clay, or loamy, which determines how well your plants grow and how prone you may be to experiencing plant diseases and root rot. To determine your soil type, grab some dirt and make a wet ball. The soil that crumbles or loses shape is sand, according to the Armstrong Garden Center. Soils that are soft and clamping are the clay, and those that form loose balls are loamy. Many horticultural shops also help identify the type of soil.
Experts say that plants do best in loamy soil because it provides good drainage. Loamy soil has a proper balance of clay, silt, and sand. If the soil is clay or sand, change the structure by improving the soil such as compost or peat moss, adding water, and adding nutrients. Or consider a container with purchased soil or surface gardening.
4. Get Your Soil Tested
Yes, you read it right, soil should be tested too. Before starting your home garden, conduct a soil test or retest it at least every after 3 years. The results describe properties that affect fertility, such as organic matter content and pH, nutrient and salt levels. Soil testing can help you understand past growth difficulties so you know how to solve the problem instead of making harsh guesses.
Soil testing can also help determine which crops are suitable for which soil. For example, according to Purdue University expansion, many plants thrive in soils with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5, but this is not ideal for blueberries because their soil acidity levels are as low as 4 or 5. The plant packaging should tell you what type of soil you like. If not, please check the almanac or search quickly on the Internet.
5. Use Better Planting Strategies
a. Container Gardening
In many ways, gardening in a container is easier than gardening on the ground. Since you are using a potting mix, you don't have to prepare the soil before you start. You may have far fewer weed problems (if any), and it is easier to protect your container crops from threats such as animals and wind or frost. Container gardening solves the problem of space, allowing people to start gardening on terraces, decks, roofs, and other alternative environments.
Use cheap materials such as trash cans, buckets, and plastic basins; just remember to add holes at the bottom. If you find that you have not invested in gardening, you will not waste a lot of money. Many people have learned the cost of container gardening through painstaking methods.
b. Difference Between Planting Seeds and Starter Plants
Seeds offer the widest variety and are the cheapest option. There are usually at least 20 seeds or more in a package, and some packages contain hundreds. For many crops, it is not necessary for all the seeds to be used up in one season, but do not discard them. Buying long-lasting seeds and using them across multiple growing seasons makes for a good garden investment, in the long run, lowering the cost per plant to a few pennies or less.
Starter plants, on the other hand, are the quickest and easiest way to start a garden. However, despite its convenience, a starter plant is a more expensive planting option. Generally, plants are sold individually and costs over several dollars. That said, starting plants can save a lot of time. You can start gardening weeks or months after planting and harvesting around the same time. It is an ideal option to meet the needs of the busiest gardeners.
c. Vertical Planting
Vertical planting involves planting things upright rather than letting them spread. For crops such as cucumbers, zucchini, beans, and peas, you can use fences, trellises, or nets hung between stakes. Many vines naturally attach and climb upright elements that they come into contact with.
On another note, vertical planting saves a lot of space. Aside from the fact that it keeps your plants from spreading on the ground, it reduces the chance of any rotting factor, pests, and diseases. Vertical planting also makes weeding easier and will make your harvesting so much convenient because it is more accessible.
6. Reduce Gardening Cost
The first thing that you should put into consideration is to avoid things that you do not need. You may find these gardening tools all so fancy but many of these items are just decoration.
What you need depends on what you grow. The commonly purchased or being invested in when it comes to gardening are gloves, inexpensive tools such as pruners and scissors, handtowels, shovels, etc.
The second thing that we need to learn is to prioritize quality. If you are going to buy cheap gardening tools that will only last for one-time use, then opt for a much more expensive one that will last for your years. You do not want to lose money, increase workload, or ruin results by playing a trial and error game of garden supplies.
You can use kitchen waste, leaves, cardboard boxes, and manure to make compost or make your own fertilizer instead of chemical fertilizers that are usually associated with health risks. You can also use simple items such as leaves and grass clippings to make mulch. Mulch is a useful material and should be placed on top of the soil around the plant, a few inches from the plant body. Mulch has many functions, such as reducing fluctuations in soil temperature, preventing soil compaction, and stifling weeds.
7. Harvest Smarter
Read your plant packaging or search online to understand how big your crops need to grow and determine when they can be harvested. Choosing your products as soon as they are ripe can increase yield.
It is best to collect some crops, such as many kinds of beans, before the crops mature. For crops like basil, if you harvest regularly, you should notice a huge difference in yield and vigor. Resist the temptation to overgrown crops. Bigger is not always better. For example, Burpee says that tubers are best when they are young because they become tough, woody, and spicy as they grow.
Skills and techniques are absolutely the keys to a successful garden, but no one has become a master gardener in the first place. Gardening is a learning process, so stick to it and be proud of your progress each season.