Due to repeated warnings about excessive use of pesticides, GMO crop hazards and lax food safety standards, many people are turning to organic vegetables for a fool-proof and 100% natural diet alternative. Still, organic products are quite pricey so the switch to pesticide-free food may not be a cost-efficient solution in the long run. For maximum food safety with minimal investments, you should consider starting your own garden, and here are five simple tips on how to complete the project quickly, effectively and easily.
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Step 1: Picking the garden site
When choosing the spot to plant your garden, consider several factors such as garden size, sunlight exposure, soil type, proximity of trees and shrubbery, water supply and local climate. If you have a large backyard with a lawn, consider transforming a portion of it into arable land where you will be able to plant your garden. In case you live in an apartment, use your balcony as the garden site and deck it with pots to plant your veggies in. For additional information on specific conditions necessary for growing different herbs and vegetables, check a list of plant requirements in terms of climate, sunlight and soil and pick the plants that can prosper well in your self-grown garden.
Step 2: Planning the garden layout
To save money, time and energy in the sowing season, plan your garden layout carefully in advance. Draw a garden layout on a piece of paper and allocate different patches of land to the vegetable types you intend to plant. Your garden plan will largely depend on your choice of vegetables, site location and type of soil. When drawing your garden plan, leave room for pathways in between sowing rows to ensure easy access for weeding, water supply and garden inspection purposes. As a general rule, vegetables should be grown in rotation and with due care for veggie type placement, so make sure you know your plant rotation and positioning basics before sowing your garden.
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Step 3: Preparing the soil
Adequate soil preparation is a factor that can greatly impact the quality and quantity of your crops. The best soil for a small to mid-sized vegetable garden is rich humus which provides good drainage, adequate air circulation and optimal moisture retention during summer. Before you plant your garden, test the original soil for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium quantities and soil pH, and remove any grass and weed to ensure adequate nutrition for your crops. Then, thoroughly plow, spade or rototill the land, eliminate rocks and break down large clumps of soil to optimize soil structure and consistency. Finally, add some manure or compost to boost soil quality and level and smooth out the garden bed with a rake.
Step 4: Plant your veggie seeds
Based on your garden layout, buy an adequate number of seeds for the vegetable varieties you intend to sow. The best planting season is early spring so make most of the first sunny spells and sow your veggie seeds in rows, cover them with soil gently, firm down the coat soil layer using a hoe bottom or hand and finally water each row with a fine spray of clean H2O. After two or three weeks’ time, thin the sprouts if necessary as an overcrowded seed bed will not bring in quality crops.
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Step 5: Keeping your plants healthy and prosperous
Once sprouts appear, it is essential to maintain plant growth and keep your veggies healthy. Observe your plants as they develop and eliminate any garden insects or pests that can cause damage to the crops. Water, weed and fertilize your plants regularly and if needed, use a weed sprayer pump to protect the vegetables from hungry creepy-crawlers. Once the veggies are ripe and ready to collect, harvest the crops and enjoy the fruit of your labor – a plate full of tasty vegetable bites is a well-deserved treat for a busy gardener!