by Tess Pennington
Have you noticed that your store bought produce is wilted or bruised once it comes home from the store? Are you concerned about harmful chemical fertilizers on your produce? Do you worry about upcoming food shortages? Or want more food security? Many of us are taking notice of these concerns and have made the decision to grow our own gardens as a way to produce our own food source.
As rewarding as it is to produce your own food source, it takes practice and work to refine this pertinent skill. For those who have just discovered their green thumbs, take note of some simple advice that can help your garden grow to it’s maximum extent.
To make the most of your new healthy venture, ensure that you purchase non-GMO, heirloom quality seeds so the seeds can be saved for future gardens.
1. Mimic Mother Nature. Growing vegetables and herbs in conditions best suited for them will help them grow faster. For instance, herbs prefer drier soil compared to vegetables. Since the outer perimeter of the garden bed is the driest, many gardeners plant herbs in this area. The herbs are happy there and this gives you more room for vegetables. Further, consider companion planting. By planting different crops in close proximity, they will assist each other in nutrient uptake, pest control, pollination, and other factors necessary to increasing crop productivity. This is like killing two birds with one stone.
2. Don’t be premature. I understand how excited one gets when their seedlings start to emerge, but don’t be hasty in planting them too early. You want to give them ample time to develop their root systems and trunks. I can’t tell you how many seedlings I’ve lost because I was impatient and so excited to plant them. On another note, if they were germinated indoors, give them time to acclimate to their new outdoor environment. If you immediately set them out, the increased sunlight will stress them out. Typically, I set my indoor plantlings in a semi-shady area for a week or two before transferring them to their permanent spot and give them lots of water.
3. Be realistic. If you have never had a garden before, don’t expect to go full out with. Remember, keep in simple and start with the easiest plants to grow and then add more. Listed below are some of the easiest plants to grow for beginners:
- Nut/Fruit Trees – To learn more about essential nut and fruit trees for a survival homestead, click here.
- Vining Berries – blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.
4. Practice makes perfect. Gardening is a skill that takes practice, so give yourself time to learn. Trust me, there will be garden failures, but it’s all a part of the learning curve. Talk to fellow gardens or join a gardening group to help you learn the tricks of the trade. There are also plenty of online resources and books that can help you, as well.
5. Compost and fertilize. Plants are a lot like humans, they need the right conditions to thrive and food to stay healthy. Composting is a great way to provide some added nutrients and condition the soil. Fertilizers will give the plants just what they need to produce healthy fruit. Building your own composter is a great way to make the use of any organic materials as well as getting on the journey to self sustainment.
6. Mulch. An often forgotten gardening step is to mulch. Think of mulch as a protective barrier to the delicate root systems searching for water. Mulch will also keep the soil more moist and temperature down. Using fallen leaves is a great way to use what you have laying around the yard. There are also synthetic mulching systems that many gardeners use as well.
As you can see, there a few considerations to keep in mind to keep your garden thriving. By following these tips, your garden will be growing, blooming and producing in no time at all.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.