The experiences I have growing food is definitely a work in progress, but since starting, I have picked up a few lessons. At the age of six I first began my farming career by planting an apple tree in the backyard of my families house in Dallas, TX. Unfortunately, due to animal intervention, the apple tree only lasted a few months. Soon after I tried again by planting a peach tree. This time, experience was on my side, and to this day my family only has to walk out their back door for a delicious snack. So when I decided to move to California, land of the fruits and nuts, I knew that I was going to grow my own food. Starting off simple, I planted strawberries, tomatoes and basil in March. Now after three months I am beginning to harvest my crop.
While I started a little early, summer is officially here and you too can grow your own food. To help you get your garden started, I created a 5 Step Guide that if you follow, you too can be eating food grown right in your backyard!
- Make A Plan
What should I grow? What things do I need? How much will this all cost? These are some basic questions that you should be asking yourself before going to the store. Some of the fruits and vegetables that do well in the summer heat are tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, eggplant, cucumbers, and chive among many more. Depending on where you live will determine some costs. For example if you live in an apartment or a house with no yard, your best bet is to buy planter pots and potting soil. Or if you have access to the ground, you will need a shovel and topsoil to do it correctly.
As for how much you should spend, give yourself a budget that includes the cost of bonnie plants (plants ready to go), topsoil (for your backyard), planter pots and potting soil. Personally, I spent about $80 for ten strawberry plants, two tomato plants, a basil plant, and topsoil.
Now it is time to get the supplies. But before you go a home depot, orchard supply hardware or another store selling gardener supplies, create a list of the things you need. These places have a lot of shiny and expensive tools that you do not need, so keep it simple.
2. Plant Your Plants
Dig up the earth or rip open the bag of potting soil and get to work and begin putting the plants into their new home. When planting, be sure that you put them in a place that gets enough sunlight and a spot that isn’t too crowded. As a rule of thumb, the same types of plants can be next to each other. For example you can plant a strawberry plant next to a strawberry plant. However, make sure when planting different types of plants, they are at least a foot away from each other, or in another planter pot. Nobody wants the roots of a strawberry plant fighting with the roots of a tomato plant. Because in the end, the best tasting strawberries are the ones that did not try and conquer the tomatoes.
3. Give Your Plants Water And Love
This does not mean you should buy them jewelry or ask them how their days were after you get home from work, but it would not hurt. It means to water them on a consistent basis and to remove the weeds that are growing around them. This habit of checking up on them will help to see if they need more water or if it is time to harvest.
Pro Tip- Recycle the water you use in the shower. I do this by keeping a bucket in the shower that catches the water as my shower heats up and when I rinse off (not catching soapy water or shampoo). By using this technique you are not using more water, you are just using it more efficiently.
4. Do Not Brag About Your Garden
Let your garden speak for itself! Until your plants are growing food try your best to adhere to the policy of not telling anyone. The plants in your garden do not want to be under the care of an arrogant gardener so just avoid talking about them.
5. Be Patient
There are many variables that go into gardening and plant growth that I do not have the qualifications to explain to you, but something I do know is being patient can help. If for whatever reason things are not going according to your schedule, the worst thing you can do is get angry at the plants. Most times they are just trying to get used to life outside of the store you bought them from. Once they get settled, there will no problems.
There you go, the 5-Step guide to growing your own food. Other than being a skill that is great to have, growing your own food will help cut down on greenhouse emissions. Furthermore, you will have peace of mind that pesticides were not used to grow your food. Now what are you waiting for? Make a plan and start growing your own food. Your body and environment will thank you.