Starting your garden!

I am so excited! The lilacs are blooming and that is the earth’s signal for us to start planting our vegetable gardens for the season!

Gardening is a great hobby and gives everyone who plants one access to clean fresh food. You can get my report on how to grow your own herbs that heal by signing up on our contact page.

Growing up on a farm, I learned at a young age to love fruits and veg. I wouldn’t even need to come inside to eat because i would be playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine, eating whatever was around to forage. We had grape vines, a cherry tree, wild strawberries, raspberries and a huge garden where i would often pick beans, peas or pull up a carrot to wash off under the hose so i didn’t have to go back inside.

I still find myself in awe of how something as tiny as a seed will grow into a magnificent plant that nourishes us. I get so excited to see those little seeds grow!

So come on, let’s get growing so you can see for yourself how vibrant food makes a vibrant you!

When deciding to start a garden you will need to start with a plan.

I didn’t do this at first, I just read a bunch of books and went willy nilly at it. I reaped some from the fruits of my labour, but I didn’t get  any extras to store for winter and some plants did not do well at all. 🙁  Now I have a garden journal so that I know where I have planted my veg in the past so I can rotate my crops for better nutrients for the new crops and I plan out where I am going to plant things that benefit each other for this year. Like the three sisters. Beans, corn and squash. These three have been planted for years all over the world. They stabilize the soil and help support each other, not to mention they are delicious.

While a smaller garden means less work and money, it will not produce enough food to sustain you for the winter months. Container gardens are fun and easy to maintain not to mention a necessity for small yards or balconies, but they do require more water and fertilizer.

One item that will ease your workload is to put down a 4-inch layer of mulch. This will reduce the soil’s need for water and helps keep weeds under control. Last years leaves or straw make a great mulch. I use both, and I have very few weeds.

Keeping your yard tools in good condition is going to make your maintenance tasks easier. So go ahead and put them away when you’re done, somewhere they are out of the elements.

Save your seeds at the end of the season; it’s cheaper than buying more and you can trade them with other gardeners. Some communities have seed exchanges where you can swap some of your seeds for new varieties!

Here are six things to consider when starting your garden:

Remember each garden will have a unique process for bed preparation, depending on soil conditions and available tools.

  1. Aerate – Use a pitchfork to loosen the soil (to invite oxygen, water and root growth) without turning it over (to preserve structure and microbiology).  
  2. Weed – All competing plants must be pulled up. Be sure to get all the roots or else they will come back.
  3. Amend – Now is the time to add fertilizer or soil amendments.  adding ash from the fire pit for potassium and higher pH.
  4. Mulch – Apply a layer of mulch of your choice until soil is covered.  Mulch protects soil from moisture loss, weed growth, and erosion from wind and rain.
  5. Plant – Direct seeded tomatoes, beans, peppers and transplant seedlings
  6. Companion planting is another lesson to learn. Multiple species can  grow well together, each contributing to the greater ecosystem.  For instance, legumes and their rhizobia (bacteria in their roots) build nitrogen in the soil.

Starting your own garden is so rewarding! When you are outside in nature you have a real appreciation of where your food comes from and the work it takes to grow.

Have you started your garden? What do you like to plant?

 

Starting a garden

gardenThere are so many wonderful reasons to start your own garden. Sunshine, fresh air, free therapy and the freshest produce around to name a few!

If you are thinking of starting your own garden you will need to find some space that gets at least 6 hours of full sunlight per day. You will also need your garden to have good drainage. So if you have a backyard space then look for a spot in the yard where no puddles remain after a good rainfall. If you are planning to use container or vertical gardening you will need to ensure that there are drainage holes in your containers.

Once you have found the best spot then you get to ask yourself what you need from your garden. Do you want to make a lot of tomato sauce for the winter, then planting tomatoes will be on your list. Do you like having fresh fruit? Then melons or berries will be on your list.

My goals for this year is to grow, harvest and preserve as much food as I can for my family over the winter. Every year my garden gets a little bit bigger, more things added. This year I will add some vertical space to my garden so that I will get higher yields in the space I have and a fruit tree.

One of the easiest gardens to grow is a salad garden. It can be grown just about anywhere and is a great place to start if you have never tried gardening before. Containers and Vertical gardens are great for this type of garden. All kinds of greens, onions, cherry tomatoes, chilies and beans are some ideal veg for this garden.

And let’s not forget herbs. Herbs can very easily be grown in pots and vertically.

Once you have your location and you have an idea of what you would like to plant then you have to get your space ready. You will need to prepare your soil, whether it is tilling and adding compost or prepping your containers with good quality compost. High nutrient, non compact soil is what you are going to need.

Once you have that ready you can then decide moving forward what you need in terms of compost next year. I love composting as it is my give back to Mother Earth for helping me grow beautiful veg for me and my family. You can check out different kinds of composting here.

Next is choosing your veg. If you are new to gardening then I suggest starting with asking yourself, “what will i eat?”  This is a good guideline on what to plant and if you enjoy eating what you grow you will feel more motivated to keep your garden growing.

There is a wonderful community of gardeners out there that will be happy to share seeds, plants and knowledge with you if you shall seek.  In the community where i live there is a couple of seed exchange programs and plant exchanges that you can swap different plants or seed to get some new varieties in your garden.  This is a great place to exchange some seeds if you get too many in a package to use.

You can start your garden from seed or transplants whichever works best for you. I love starting my veg from seed as I save all my seeds from the year before and i love to watch them grow into fruition.

Let’s talk mulch. Mulch is a must if you want a more low maintenance garden. Mulch deters weeds, keeps in moisture and add vital nutrients as it decays. Mulch comes in the form of leaves, wood chips and old weeds that haven’t gone to seed.

Now for watering, fruits and vegetables need a light water every day or two. Once your plants are mature they will need a couple of inches of water per week, more in hotter regions or well drained soil. I have a rain barrel that I water my gardens with as I don’t want to add chlorinated water from the city to my garden.

You will need to harvest and weed your garden regularly. Some crops mature in as early as 20 days after planting, so check them regularly so that you get your harvest before the squirrels, raccoons, skunks or other critters get them. Weeds will shoot right up after an intense rainfall so be sure to get out there and pull them out. I just leave them on top of the soil as mulch. Most of all have fun starting a garden!

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