With the new year fast approaching, some of you may be picking up new hobbies and writing resolutions. One of those may be gardening – not only is it relatively easy and stress relieving, but you’ll be able to literally reap the rewards. As a bonus, you’ll even get to save money that you’d have otherwise spent on fruits and vegetables that you can now grow in the comfort of your own home.
Here are some tips to help you get started.
Decide what you want to grow
With the exception of flowers, don’t attempt to grow any vegetable or fruit that won’t get eaten. Only opt for the ones you and your housemates really enjoy, so you can focus all your energy on nurturing plants that will be of use in the future. Try not to pick a plant just because it’s easy to grow. Flowers, even though they can’t be eaten, highlight the beauty of the garden, so it’s always nice to have a few sprouting around your land. Flowers add a touch of colour and emit a lovely fragrance; this helps in keeping up the motivation to maintain your garden; therefore, they are always a good idea.
Always ask about the use of pesticides before buying.
Choose the right plot of land
It’s important to decide how big you want your garden to be and to allocate sufficient space for it. Before beginning to plant, figure out the best season for harvesting. Depending on which region of the country you live in, pick which plants will work well with external factors like temperature and soil. It’s also best to pick a plot that is in a controlled environment. Most fruits and vegetables need full exposure to the sun, with a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight per day for fruiting. Greens, herbs, and root veggies will grow in partial shade. If you only want a small garden, don’t attempt to grow something like a giant pumpkin, which will spread over a very large area. It’s always helpful to do some research about what conditions work well for the fruits or veggies you want and pick the land accordingly. Also remember that while the internet can be helpful, not all gardening tips will suit our climate.
Invest in gardening tools
Basic gardening equipment like a garden hoe, dirt rake, shovel, and various hand tools are essential for anyone planning on starting their own garden. The right tools make working in your garden a pleasure instead of a chore. Good tools will save time and effort as well as your back. Keep tools clean and sharp, just like you would treat a good knife. Try to avoid purchasing plastic tools if possible; those are hard to maintain and often don’t do a good job.
Test your soil
Before you start building your garden beds or planting, you need to test your soil. Is your soil acidic, alkaline, or does it have a neutral pH? Do you have sand, clay, silt, rocks, or a mix of all four? Is there a risk of soil contamination from nearby structures, roadways, or other sources? Does it have a good amount of basic nutrients? These are all important questions to ask when growing fruits and vegetables. Don’t have a yard or soil for your garden? Consider growing plants in bags or containers to start your garden.
Enjoy your harvest
As crops mature, make sure to harvest promptly for the best quality. Leafy greens like lettuce are typically “cut and come again”, which means you can clip off the leaves and they will regrow for another harvest. The flavour is typically at a peak when the morning dew has cleared but before the afternoon heat has settled in. Sample and decide what tastes best to you. And if you have excess, don’t hesitate to share them with your family and friends!