Food gardening is no longer associated with the elderly and country bumpkins. Growing vegetables, fruits, herbs, and berries are growing in popularity. About 35% of American households grow food in the community gardens or at home, reports the National Gardening Association.
Most people enjoy growing their own food because:
- It saves money
- Homegrown food tastes better
- Have control over food quality
Home gardening can make a huge difference in your fridge and pocket. So, whether you quit gardening after failing or you want to give it a try, here are a few ways to up your game.
Study Your Environment
Most people, especially first-time gardeners pick an area, start planting and expect the food to grow. But plants have preferences that you shouldn’t ignore. So before you start gardening, it’s wise to analyze your area and consider what plants are likely to grow well. Look for plants that can do well on your area depending on factors, such as sunlight, planting zones, water and more.
Most food-bearing plants need sun exposure for between 6 and 10 hours. Other edible plants can do well in partial shade but tend to produce less. As such, you may want to increase the number of plants grown in a shady area to get the desired product.
Before gardening, it’s also advisable to get your soil tested. The results can show you important features about the soil, like PH, salt levels, nutrients, and organic matter content. You may also need to look at your water supply. You may need a pump for outdoor use if the distance to the water source is far or low pressure.
Consider Container Gardening
Between 2008 and 2013, container gardening grew by about 46%, according to a report by the National Gardening Association. This is because it is easier than in-ground gardening. For example, you don’t have to do soil preparation before planting, reduced risk of weeds and easy to protect the crops from frost damage, animals and strong winds.
Container gardening also addresses space challenges. It allows anyone to start gardening on rooftops, patios, and decks. This mode of home gardening can also help you to manage the following problems:
- Inadequate sunlight
- Insufficient water or water restrictions
- Soil issues
Physical challenges like gardener’s mobility
To make the most of container gardening, you must prepare and plan. For instance, you have to carefully look at the soil drainage, porosity, and the container size.
Reduce Gardening Costs
Not all home gardeners get a good return on their investment. In fact, most people garden at a loss. If you want to improve, you must reduce costs.
When gardening, always avoid items you don’t need. For example, you don’t need peat pots to grow seeds. You can use shallow containers or flower pots. Depending on what you’re growing, you may need gloves and a few hand tools.
In addition, buy high-quality products. Opting to buy cheap products can save you a few bucks initially, but you will have to replace them regularly.
Instead of using inorganic fertilizers, make your own compost from kitchen leftovers, manure, and leaves. Also, plant pest deterring plants like pyrethrum instead of buying expensive pesticides.
Some gardeners don’t get to the point of harvesting, so you may feel like great. However, you need to protect your plants in order to get maximum yields. So make sure you only harvest your produce at the right time.
Some crops, including beans, should be harvested before they reach maturity, while other crops such as basil produce more when harvested regularly.
It is also prudent to avoid over-growing crops. Big does not always mean better quality. Some crops like root vegetables tend to become tough and more pungent as they become bigger.
Look out for damaged produce when harvesting. Damaged parts encourage disease and reduce nutritional value. Some wounded harvest can stay for many days before developing infections, which can wipe out your entire harvest.
Minimize Food Waste
Most gardeners produce more food that they intend to eat during the season. This can significantly lead to food waste and reduce your investment returns.
Succession planting can help you avoid growing one crop on large scale. It allows you to grow them in small amounts in phases so that your harvesting time is spread throughout the season.
Another strategy of reducing food waste is preserving the extras. You can save your produce so that you can continue enjoying after the growing season. You can freeze, dry or can.
Skill and strategy are important for successful home gardening. It is also a learning process, so be proud of your achievements and improvements with these tips.