In light of the global pandemic and nationwide lockdowns happening right now, surely many of us are thinking about the benefits of having our food garden at home. By having one, you would’ve contributed more to the campaign against COVID-19 by not going out to get groceries that often. In addition to that, you and your family would’ve got to enjoy pure organic and juicier meals while in quarantine.
Don’t worry; it’s never too late. According to experts, now is the perfect time to start a vegetable garden in the comfort of your own homes. Not just because of the purpose of having an activity during the isolation period, but also to prepare for the next winter.
With our without a public-health crisis, having your vegetable garden is rewarding.
Here are just some of the benefits:
1. In times like this global pandemic, you ‘ll never run out of food to eat. While stores and groceries are still open, you would be risking your and your family’s health by going out.
2. Consuming fresh vegetables and fruits is one of the most important things to improve your health since the nutritional content of fresh goods is at its highest. You can never compare the freshness of the goods you pick from your garden to the ones you get from the groceries.
3. Save more money from groceries. Just imagine the minimum of $30 you’ll get to save per grocery trip.
4. Tending your garden can be a family activity. You can ask your kids to help you plant and water your crops, making this a fun family hobby. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to encourage them to do the same someday.
5. Being exposed to sunlight for a minimum of 30 minutes a day is vital for everyone’s health. Natural sunlight helps your body produce more Vitamin D, which helps in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood. These factors lead to healthier bones.
6. Add more fun, life, and color to your yard. The sight of colorful radishes or eggplants and the smell of fresh herbs growing on your garden is inviting, not only to your guests but also to pollinators, which will help your garden grow faster.
If you need a perfect inspiration, look or visit different Amish gardens. Amish people are really popular in gardening for their 100% organic ways to fertilize and grow crops, and even the way they design their gardens with their own authentic Amish garden planters.
Growing your vegetable garden at home is not that difficult as many people may think. With the right planning, even beginners can do it successfully.
Here are some easy tips on growing your first vegetable garden at home:
1. Pick the right spot
In choosing a specific area to start your vegetable garden, make sure that it gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. It’s also important that it has proximity to a water source and if possible, it’s protected from flood, frost, and wind in extreme weather conditions.
2. Start Small
If it’s your first time to grow a garden, it’s wiser to start small. 10×10 feet or about the size of a small bedroom will be enough. This is to avoid the most common mistakes of a beginner like planting too much too soon and having a responsibility that eats up more effort and time than you can give.
By starting small for the first 2 years, you’ll be able to estimate how much is enough. If you think you need and can handle more, then expanding your vegetable garden little by little would be more efficient and manageable.
3. Prepare Your Soil
It’s always about the soil. For the best harvest, you also need the best soil you can give. If you’re not sure, test the soil by sending a sample to a state-certified soil-testing lab for help. You can also have it tested by a garden-supply store of your choice. They can recommend what kind of supplements you can use. You can also purchase special-made soil from them in bulk.
4. Pick Your First Vegetables
While it’s tempting to plant everything on your first vegetable garden, it’s still better to pick at least 4 to 6 kinds in the beginning. When deciding, make a list of the vegetables you like and will most likely consume regularly. For your reference, here are 5 easy to grow vegetables for beginners:
a. Radish – Radishes are easy to grow and can be harvested after 3 weeks. They can only be planted during the spring and fall seasons. Never try to grow radishes during summer since the extremely hot temperature will inevitably lead to bolting, making them useless.
Sow seeds 0.5 to 1 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Rows should be planted at least 12 inches apart. Water them frequently for quick growth. Always keep the beds moist, not soaked.
b. Spring Onions – Spring onions will grow in any fertile soil. Just make sure that the soil isn’t waterlogged; therefore, be careful not to over-water since they tend to rot if the soil isn’t well-drained. You can grow them from seeds or bulbs.
Sow spring onions 0.5 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Sow thinly.
c. Potatoes – Potatoes are one of the most fun and easiest vegetables to grow for first-timers. Almost anyone can put these in his or her dinner tables every single day.
For best results, plant potatoes in a spot with full sun, at least six hours of sunlight every day. The best time of the year to start is spring, around the time of the last expected frost. Valentine’s Day is the signal for most gardeners in warmer climates.
Small potatoes can be planted directly. For potatoes larger than a golf ball, they should be quartered and cured by setting the cut pieces out in the sun or place them in a moderately lit room for at least 5 days before planting.
Plant each potato (eyes up) in a 6-inch-deep hole and about 12 inches apart from all sides.
d. Carrots – Carrots are a popular and long-lasting root vegetable that can grow anywhere, no matter the climate is. However, many would prefer planting them during spring and fall.
With this vegetable, soil preparation is important to avoid misshapen and twisted crops. Loose soil without any weeds and stones is the best one for carrot growing so the crops can easily push down through the soil. Sow carrot seeds .25 inches deep, 4 inches apart, in rows at least 1 foot apart.
e. Garlic – Garlic may be the most favorite of many home gardeners when talking about backyard produce. It not only tastes good and easy to grow, but it also takes up little room in the vegetable garden.
Garlic requires a lot of sunlight, especially during the growing season. It’s well suited for both spring and autumn planting. The soil should be fertile and well-drained. It should be as weed-free as possible.
Place garlic cloves 2 inches deep in the ground, and at least 4 inches apart. The pointed end of the clove should be facing up.
5. Record the Planting Dates
If you’re a first-timer, it’s important to keep a record of each of your planting and fertilizing dates. Some gardeners even keep a daily journal to monitor the progress of their crops. This will help you track what could’ve gone wrong in case anything fails.
6. Fertilize Your Crops as Needed
There are three things that a plant needs to grow – sunlight, moisture, and nutrients. They get the sunlight from, obviously, the sun. They get the moisture from rainfall, water, irrigation, etc. Lastly, they get the nutrients from fertilizers, compost, or manure. However, never use fresh manure to fertilize your edible crops since this contains a lot of harmful bacteria that may cause serious illness in humans.
There are a lot of choices for organic fertilizers you can use for your vegetable garden. Just make sure that the contents of your choice would specifically benefit the kind of vegetable you had planted. Just don’t over-do it. Too much fertilizer especially nitrogen could harm your harvest.
7. Water Wisely
Purchase a spray nozzle for your garden hose. Never use a bucket or a dipper to avoid drowning your crops. Also, there are different requirements for each plant. Some vegetables would require daily watering, while some would require every once in a while. Newly seeded beds would, however, require more frequent watering.
8. Keep Your Whole Vegetable Garden Weed-Free
Weeds compete for resources like water and nutrients that should be 100% for your crops. They also provide shelter for pests and diseases. These are the main reasons why it is important to remove and eliminate all weeds from your garden regularly.
While the use of Herbicides is the most obvious solution, it’s still not recommended when using them around edibles. If you can, do all the weed-removal manually to maintain your future harvests’ quality.