With the ever-present data that suggests that most all our grocery-store-bought food contains any number of steroids, chemicals and any number of other problems for us, there is a large movement in developing a garden.  There are many things to consider whether you are homesteading or in a suburban area, or even in urban areas.  You can begin now preparing to grow at least a portion of your own food.

Determine what grows well in your area

Plants are much like us in that they thrive in certain conditions and either die or just survive in others.  That is why it is good for you to find out what grows well in your area.  You can do this by a number of means.  By joining a gardening club you can get information direct form those who garden.  This could include an online club.  Social media is full these days of clubs and groups that are happy to share information with you.  In-person tutelage is invaluable when it comes to gardening however, so if you have a group near you, join it.

Prepare you soil

This usually means if you have a plot of land that you will need to get it plowed and tilled.  Farmers in an area will often do this for a small fee and sometimes for free during plowing season.  Keep in mind that most farmers prepare ground in the fall after harvest.  This will allow the ground to get hard due to freezing and then break down (hopefully several times) during the winter freezes and thaw.  This serves to make the ground more manageable for use in the spring.  Once this happens tilling, or otherwise, breaking up the soil into finer material is a must.  If you want to use gardening for the purpose of physical exercise, a shovel and/or mattock will do this nicely. Otherwise contacting a farming or gardening neighbor will be useful skill you could use each year.

Fertilize and improve your plot

If you live in an area where there is regular gardening and farming you can send in soil samples for testing to various university labs or similar entities.  This will help you to understand what your soil needs in the way of nutrients for the types of plants you desire to grow.  Some soils needs fertilizer in the soil, others lime, and some perfectly balanced.  It will serve you well to get your ground tested.  Fertilizer doesn’t have to come from stores either.  Find natural sources like fallen leaves, or grass clippings to do some of the work for you.  As with most things nature-related, you can nearly always find a natural source to assist the garden without too many expenditures of money.

Place your plants in the ground

Sometimes this will come via seeds, other times it will come from using small plants grown elsewhere in a greenhouse.  A good resource is the Farmer’s Almanac to see at what depth you should plant seeds.  There are so many different seeds and plants it would be impossible for me to cover them here.  Just know that just putting seeds in the ground is not enough.  You need to put them at particular depths, spaced appropriate distances, and near or far from various species.  Some species assist others in growing, others will not.  This symbiotic relationship of plants is the type of thing that you can learn from someone with years of experience in gardening or the resources in which they share that information.

Provide nutrition and protection

This will again come in from water, fertilizer, and mulch.  Reference the Farmer’s Almanac for the each of the plants you are growing, what they like and what they don’t like.  For example some plants love full sunlight, and others are not tolerant of lots of son.  You can provide shade in the form of barriers like mulch or make sure they are not shaded out by other plants that may grow tall in the garden.  

Stay at it

Gardening is much like exercise in that you must continually engage in it to see positive results.  You may get by with missing a day or two in the garden.  However if you spend a little bit of time each day there, you will learn much needed information for your its continued success.  Are animals gnawing at the young shoots, have you been invaded by insects, does it appear you are getting too much or not enough water.  These are all things you will be able to see early without the possibility of there being large scale harm if you get in your garden each day.

It is a rewarding practice in both your mental and physical health just considering the work you will be doing.  Add in the bonus of nice fresh veggies that you grew yourself, there are too many reason to do it than there are not to.


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