Tired of paying a premium for veggies that were likely sprayed with a chemical cocktail you couldn’t even begin to pronounce? Then it’s time to get your hands dirty with a backyard garden.
Many urban and suburban dwellers are looking to become more self-sufficient by planting, growing and harvesting their own vegetables. With rising food prices, it’s simply the smart thing to do. Plus, you avoid consuming pesticides that some producers use to grow their crops. Sure, you could buy only organic produce, but prepare to pay an even heftier price tag for those products. With a bit of planning and hard work, you’ll be able to create a space that will provide fresh vegetables for as long as you live on the property. Here are a few things to think about before you get started.
Find a suitable spot
Whether you live in big home in the suburbs or an urban loft downtown, everyone can find a place to grow food. Those with decent-sized backyards should look for a parcel of land that receives at least six hours of sunshine per day and is well-drained. While the quality of your soil will certainly influence how productive your garden is, it doesn’t have to determine whether or not you’re able to plant vegetables. It may not be that productive the first year, but tilling the soil and adding high-quality organic soil and compost will help improve your plot.
If you live in an apartment building or other urban space that doesn’t have a yard, you can still plant a garden using containers. Although space constraints means you’ll have to settle for less vegetables, this is still a great way to ease your grocery bill. You may also want to investigate whether there are any community gardens in your building or neighborhood, where residents get together to grow a bounty of fresh food. If there isn’t one available, consider starting a community garden yourself.
Select your vegetables
Determine what type of produce you and your family eats on a regular basis and research whether or not it will grow well in the region you live in. Examine companion planting techniques to give your garden an extra edge. Some vegetables complement each other and can foster better growth.
Prepare and plant
Use a rotary tiller to turn the soil for your garden and then add several bags, depending on the size of your plot, of organic soil and compost. Focus on planting one type of seed at a time. Refer to the packet for details on spacing requirements and how deep it must be planted. Be sure to label each row when you’re done by taping the seed packet to a Popsicle stick to create a marker.
Maintain your garden
The more effort and care you put into your garden the more likely it will produce a large haul of vegetables. Water the soil bed until it’s moist, but don’t let puddles form. You may need to water every day during hot summers. Also, stay on top of the weeds and harvest any ripe vegetables as soon as possible.
About the Author: Abi Turner is a mainstay in the Chicago landscaping scene – when she isn’t providing tips or reviewing local companies, she is in her own backyard keeping up with her own lawn and English garden!