It is becoming more and more important to know that the food we’re feeding our families is as healthy as possible. That’s why homegrown gardens are making a popular comeback.
The best part is that homegrown food simply tastes better than what you would buy at the store.
If you are starting a garden this year for the first time, or your garden didn’t do as well as you had hoped last year, a few time-tested tips may come in handy. A home garden is easy to start and does not require as much effort as you may think to keep it growing strong. Following a few simple steps will enable you and your family to enjoy tasty, homegrown veggies in no time.
Location is key. Most vegetable plants do best in full sunlight. If possible, find a location that gets at least six hours of direct sun every day. In order to ensure the best sun exposure to all of your plants, place the tallest ones on the north or west side so they don’t shade the smaller plants.
The right soil matters. The best soil for vegetables includes lots of compost and organic matter. Examples are composted and grounded leaves or aged bark. Whatever you’re starting with, mix-in enough organic material so that the modified soil isn’t sandy or compressed.
When the mix is the right combination, it will bind together when you squeeze it, but easily break apart when disturbed. Water will be sufficiently retained without over saturating.
Water wisely. For most plants, an inch of water a week, including rainfall, is plenty. The most efficient way to irrigate is by using a soaker hose. These hoses deliver water slowly and on target, allowing the roots time to absorb the moisture. Automatic timers are another way to water with ease.
Use Mulch. Add a three-inch layer of organic mulch around your plants. Mulch will insulate the soil, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. It also helps to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and acts as a barrier to diseases that may come from the soil.
It is important to know the source of your mulch. Especially when using it in a vegetable garden. Some mulch can contain unacceptable levels of harmful chemicals. Look for mulch with a seal from “The Mulch and Soil Council”. They certify bagged mulches and soils to be free of harmful ingredients. If you don’t find their seal, ask your provider if they know the source of their mulch and soil.
Use patience with pest control. Pests are usually a given in any vegetable garden, but with a little patience, nature usually takes care of the problem. Only about 3% of the insects in your garden are actually harmful pests. A good, safe, and effective “spray” is a combination of Neem oil and Dr. Bronners Sal Suds. Mix 1/4 cup each of the oil and soap in a gallon spray container, then fill to the top with water. Gently stir and spray on the plants.
Don’t over fertilize. Too much fertilizer can promote plenty of lush green growth but result in less fruit and a smaller harvest. Excessive fertilizer can also be harmful to your plants and soil. Instead, add as much organic compost as possible. Incorporate it into the rest of the soil so you can give your plants the nutrients they need naturally.
If you put these tips into practice, you will give your garden a great start and enjoy a fruitful season. What other tips do you have? Be sure to pin this for later!