With the controversy surrounding food origins and GMO everywhere you turn, a simple solution is growing your own food. A flourishing garden doesn’t happen without some effort, but by investing some time and TLC, you could be reaping the benefits of your yard this summer.
If you’ve never had a garden or are simply looking for a refresher before the planting season is upon us, check out these simple tips to a successful garden:
1. Make your plan first on paper. (What do you want to plant, where will your vegetables be planted in your garden plot, and when do you expect harvest for each?) Read and follow seed packet directions or seedling instructions, for planting, spacing, and thinning.
2. Plant the vegetables that your family is most likely to eat. If you’re not interested in a certain type of vegetable, don’t grow it. However, try and plant one or two new vegetables that you have never grown before. Don’t be afraid to experiment!!
3. Pick a nice sunny, level, location away from trees and shrubs that may offer to much shade or compete for water and nutrients. Make sure this location has a convenient water source. Starting out, don’t make your garden too big. A 10′ x 10″ plot will feed a family easily. Plant the tallest vegetables to the north, so they don’t shade the shorter ones, and continue on down your plot with your shortest plants on your south side. It is wise to surround your garden with a fence to keep out animals.
4. Work the soil first before planting. Ideally, you want loose, rich, well-drained soil for a vegetable garden. If you have finished compost, or the ability to add nutrient-rich amendments, add to soil, turn over, mix in well. Make sure soil is level before planting.
5. Mark off your vegetable plot in one foot sections using two stakes tied with string the width of your desired vegetable plot, to provide a straight line for planting. Some of your seeds might require rounded mounds. Be sure to allow room for them. Pay attention to the types of vegetables that are planted in the spring, summer, fall, and even winter.
6. Regular weeding and hoeing is a must. A well-maintained garden keeps soil loose for water penetration and air. Weeds can rob nutrients from your growing vegetables. Water requirements vary according to soil type and zone. Plants generally need 2″ of water per week. Some plants have specific watering requirements, such as tomatoes. Watering in the morning is preferable.
7. Know when and how to harvest your vegetables for optimum flavor and harvest. This will help vegetables retain their maximum vitamin content and flavor. Mark it on a calendar beforehand, the approximate time frame your specific vegetables should be harvested, and observe vegetables closely approaching this time.