If you’ve recently grown concerned about the quality of your diet and have decided to soup up the intake of fresh vegetables and fruits in it, you’re already on the right track to enjoying a healthier lifestyle. However, with the price of fresh produce being what it is in today’s market, it isn’t financially viable for everyone to sustainably incorporate healthy vegetables in their cooking. As a result, many people have started to explore ways to grow their own vegetables rather than buying them at exorbitant prices from outside vendors.
The good news is that you can indeed create your own little vegetable garden to enjoy fresh produce at your discretion, the not-so-good news is that it isn’t as simple as planting a handful of seeds in the ground and letting nature do its work – there are lots to consider, and if you opt for a ham-handed approach, chances are you’ll fail to grow anything at all or end up spending more money per vegetable than you would have spent in a market!
Here are some tips to help rookie vegetable gardeners:
Come up with a plan
Don’t start planting seeds ad-hoc based on what comes in your mind, rather, create a garden plan that lists the vegetables you want to grow, the locations where you are going to plant them, the resources you’ll need to provide them (usually sunlight, space, water and, nutrients). If you don’t have any prior gardening experience, there are a number of free gardening planners that you can resort to.
One general piece of advice is to select vegetables to grow based on the frequency of their use in your cooking, and how much you stand to save by growing them locally instead of buying them. For instance, melons and tomatoes are two costly vegetables that you may want to include in your vegetable garden.
Once you’ve made your plan, it is time to implement it, but you don’t have to do it all at the same time. For example, you may want to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, carrots, salad leaf, and potatoes in your garden – but it might be a good idea to start with just the salad and some herbs (thyme, parsley, rosemary etc.) initially.
You can grow these continuously i.e. planting a few of them in one go, harvesting them in two weeks or so, and planting more at the same time. Once you’ve gained a feel of the major processes involved in growing vegetables: planting, fertilizing, watering, maintenance and harvesting, you can expand your inventory to include pricier vegetables.
An outdoor garden isn’t necessary
If you live in an apartment that doesn’t have an outdoor space with free soil to plant in, you could practice indoor gardening via containers. Even if you can’t provide direct sunlight to your planted vegetables indoors, there is an alternative solution in the form of LED grow lights – they’ve been in use for quite a few years by cannabis farmers, but they are just as readily usable for indoor vegetable farming; you can read more about the best LED grow lights in this guide.
A word of caution regarding the use of synthetic fertilizers though: they may cost less than organic fertilizers but using them indoors could expose your household to dangerous chemicals, so if at all possible, go with natural manure instead – in fact, you can even make your own eventually.
Save where you can
Seeds and fertilizer are only a small part of the costs involved in growing vegetables at home. Unless you’ve already been doing some light gardening before, you may also need to set up a small irrigation system, aerate your soil, deal with pests and diseases, and source containers to hold the seedlings before they can be transferred to the ground. If you start small (as advised above) and grow your nursery from there, you won’t have to make a huge investment at the outset – but in the long run, these costs will start to add up. Therefore, you must try to find ways of reusing the resources that are already at your disposal.
For instance, if you pay a premium for your home’s water supply, you could start collecting rainwater and rerouting it to your garden through small channels dug into the ground. Indeed, if you get enough rain all year round, you could make a rain gutter garden for salads and herbs that don’t require any other water source at all!
As another example, instead of buying new pots to plant your veggies in, you may want to reuse any containers that you’ve got lying around (plastic and metal buckets, tubs, milk cans – essentially anything that can hold a sizeable amount of soil in it).
Once you get off the planning phase and plant a few vegetables, you will realize that vegetable gardening is a fun and satisfying pastime that lets you (literally) see the fruits of your labors. Not only will you save money from the homegrown veggies – you will also have learned a valuable survival skill that could help you in a Doomsday situation!