Spring is here and many people are contemplating starting a garden. It’s a great idea � you can save money by growing your own food and it’s also great for the environment. If you’ve always dreamed of starting a garden but didn’t know how or where to start � we’ve got 7 simple tips that can help you decide what kind of garden you want for your home, and how you can get started:
1. Picking the right spot � In urban environments, a gardener is usually limited to the amount of space available. Vegetables generally need at least 6 hours of sun per day, however if your yard is mostly shaded there are still a lot of great options available for your garden. Leafy vegetables can grow with as little as three hours of sun, or moderately spotty shade, per day. Lettuce, arugula, collard greens and even broccoli and peas can all thrive in a semi-shady environment.
2. Choose what you want to grow � Based on the locations available to you, make some wise choices about what will grow in your garden. Many new gardeners like to start small in order to get the feel for their newly acquired green-thumb. Vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce and beans give a longer harvest and are wise choices for a novice gardener.
3. Raised beds � If you have the space, a raised bed can provide many benefits to your garden. Raised beds are built on top of your native soil, so if your soil is not up to par, a raised bed offers the alternative of incorporating non-native soil into your garden. Proper soil is a crucial part of having a successful garden and many people choose raised beds in order to have maximum control over this element.
4. Compost � Speaking of soil, nothing helps plants grow better than natural, organic fertilizer. You can produce your own organic fertilizer by starting a compost pile. Compost is a soil conditioner, mulch and fertilizer all in one. Compost is created by layering equal amounts of kitchen waste and soil and periodically turning the pile. Kitchen waste can include: banana peels, egg shells, old lettuce leaves, coffee grounds, etc � almost any kind of organic matter can be used. You should not put meat scraps, dairy products, wood ashes or sawdust in your compost pile as this waste has a negative effect on the decomposition of the pile. Composts can be hosted directly in the ground, in bins or in back porch compost tumblers. Compost piles are a great way to have access to nourished soil and they provide better a better alternative for food that would normally go to waste.
5. Indoor gardening � If your yard doesn’t provide enough space for you to create a raised bed garden � don’t fret! Any window that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day can support a windowsill garden. If you are completely new to gardening and want to simply get your feet wet, grow herbs first, which provide a tasty compliment to any meal.
6. Rooftop gardens � If you’re really limited on green space, look up! Rooftop gardens in urban areas are really gaining momentum. They take a little extra work but they make great use of frequently unused and wasted space. Make sure you are aware of local ordinances, rental property rules or home owner association regulations before you begin constructing your garden oasis. Evaluate the structure of your rooftop, account for the increased amount of wind your garden will be exposed to, and determine how you are going to get water to your rooftop garden. With a little hard work, you will not only be able to enjoy the food your garden provides, but you will also create a relaxing summer retreat.
7. Join a CSA � If you are unable to start your own garden due to lack of proper space, time or any other reason, consider joining a CSA. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are an increasingly popular way for people to get fresh produce without having to grow it themselves. Members who subscribe to a CSA get a box of mixed variety produce once a week from a local farm. A mutually beneficial relationship is formed between the farmer, who gains financial support, and the consumer, who receives a wide variety of foods harvested at their peak of freshness, ripeness, flavor and vitamin and mineral content.
Whether it’s in your backyard, your window or on your roof, a vegetable garden is a great way to enjoy the freshest produce and the passing season by watching Mother Nature do her thing. You will likely enjoy your food much more knowing all the work that was put into it. Remember that you will get better at gardening as the seasons and years go by. Practice makes perfect. As you perfect this pastime, make sure your friends and family are ready for the abundance of vegetables will likely be offering up to them when your garden really starts to take off.