Many Americas shocked by the high price of fresh vegetables and everything else in life are returning to the earth for their food. Just my two cents worth, but I think that is great! Growing some of your own food will give you and your family an appreciation of farming, an activity that is greatly overlooked and unappreciated in modern society. Gardening also helps to bring us closer to nature and the Earth. Here are some tips and advice to make your garden more fruitful this year.
The first tip is to find you local Department of Agriculture Extension Office. Linked with land grant universities in your state these offices can provide tons of valuable information on gardening in your area. From plant recommendations for beginner gardeners to soil testing, extension offices are a place to find out whatever you need to know. Most have great websites as well. Follow this link to find more information: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html.
Here is a quick way to plant in your yard without plowing. Using a post hole digger, make a hole about a foot deep in the hole. Cut the grass sod from the removed dirt. Mix the yard dirt about half and half with the potting soil or similar product. Do not pack the soil to allow the plants roots to more easily work into the ground. Plant your seeds or plant as direction.
Plants are most fragile when young and stressed (such as when you transplant them). Caring for your plants is most important at these stages. As the plants become larger they are more ‘hardy’ and have better developed root systems to meet their needs. A perfect, weed free garden looks great but is not an absolute necessity after the plants begin to grow. A good minimum is to keep the weeds shorter than the plant. A quick once a week hoeing or pulling will do this fine.
Always plant more than you will need. The slightly higher cost and work will assure a good crop if something goes wrong with a plant or two.
Container gardening is a great way to start growing your own food without a lot of work. I prefer to garden in containers as you can move them around where you need them. The container keeps my dog out of the plants as well.
Use plants to help each other. Grow green beans beside corn to allow the beans to climb the corn, both will do fine together. Leaf lettuce does not do well in the heat of summer, but will grow well in most parts of the country if it is provided some shade. Planting leaf lettuce where it is shaded by taller plants works great.
Get you kids involved. Kids may get distracted easily and may hate the work, but it is good for them to gain an understanding of where food comes from. Kids may be more interested in making scarecrows and coming up with other things to keep birds and pests out of the garden.
Enlist the help of a friendly neighbor for weeding and watering chores for a share of the ‘profit’.
I hope you get a nice garden planted and reap the rewards! If you end up with a lot of extra produce you can get into another old time activity: home canning!