If you are just starting to consider homesteading but are concerned about having the right amount of time or energy to really get into the whole idea, it may be good to start with some basic gardening. Even a small garden with just a few plants can be the start of homesteading as it allows you just a tiny bit of self-sufficiency. You can start out small and slowly build up so that most of your produce and herbs come from your own garden. Who knows, perhaps you will love this process so much that you will turn all the way into homesteading with the other great ideas.
Starting your Garden
Starting your garden can be a great process. You will first need to figure out where you would like to place the plants. The best spot is going to be in an area you can see. If you never see the plants, it is going to be really hard to remember and stay motivated to take care of the garden and soon it will all go to ruins. So first pick out a spot that is easy to see from your back windows so you are always reminded to take care of the plants.
Next, you need to pick an area in your garden that will get plenty of sunlight. There are many areas that may get too much shade due to the angle of the home to the ground and you want to avoid these as much as possible. Your plants need to take in as much sunlight as possible so pick a place that is going to bring on that sun. This place also needs to have the ability to get a lot of rain to the plants. While you may need to water the plants on occasion, the rain water is usually the best. So basically make sure that you pick a spot that is not shaded from the sun or close to a tree.
The soil quality of your area is going to make a difference as well. You want to provide your plants with soil that is full of nutrients and will help them to grow big and strong. If you haven’t taken care of your yard for some time, you may want to consider tilling up the soil to allow some oxygen to get inside and then mix in a good potting soil to get some extra nutrients mixed in for the plants.
Choosing Your Plants
Once the area is picked out and prepared, it is time to choose the plants that you would like to work with. If this is your first time ever creating a garden, it is probably best to stick with just one or two plants that will provide you with some great food. You may be excited to get started with this process and want to go all out, but this can end up being a lot of work and if you’re not properly ready, you may want to give up on the whole mess.
Tomatoes are a good choice to start with. They are really sturdy and there are a lot of great canning recipes that you can choose to go with to really make things easier. Peas and carrots and corn work out well too or maybe you would like to try out a few herbs or a little bit of fruit to make things interesting. The choice is up to yours, just pick out fruits and vegetables that are easy to grow that first year and that you are willing to eat.
Over time, you will be able to increase the amount of vegetables and fruits that you are growing and maybe someday you will grow a garden that is big enough to feed the entire family. That is a great goal to have, but start out small and get used to the idea before you jump in and get over your head.
When you’re trying to figure out the plants that you would like to add into the garden, think of the foods that you like to add to your plate at dinner time. The ones that make your mouth water and help you to feel good when you eat them fresh. These are the produce choices that you should make first to ensure that you are putting in the hard work for the food that you will actually eat.
Designing Your Garden
There are different designs that you can choose to do with your garden that can help make it easier and more fun to handle. Some people may need to go with a certain design because it fits into their backyards a little bit better while others may be interested in having a design to keep certain products together. The choice is up to you, but decide on the design of the garden before you start planting.
Often, it is a good idea to draw out the design that you would like to use each year. You do not want to continue growing the same crop in the same place each year. This is simply going to dry up the soil and after a few years, your plants are going to start wilting and having some trouble growing because they aren’t getting the nutrition that they need. And remembering where you put the crops from year to year can become a challenge so writing out the diagram can help you keep things in order.
You can make a choice when it comes to designing your own personal garden. You may just take a square and put like together with like to make things easier. Others may be interested in making this garden look appealing and will create a masterpiece. Even considering putting it up a little so you don’t have to bend all of the way down to the ground can help make the gardening process easier.
The size of your garden can make a big difference on how you will design it. Smaller gardens may not be able to hold as much in terms of produce, but you can be smart and plan things out to hold quite a few crops. Consider planting all your fruits and vegetables in straight lines and then adding some herbs in between to really utilize the space and get the most out of your small area. On the other hand, if you have a lot of room, such as moving to an acreage, you may find that it is easier to grow enough crops to take care of your family all year round without having to go to the local market.
Finding the Right Tools
Gardening does not have to be complicated and having a few tools on hand can help you to get it all done right. Some of the options that you should keep on hand for your garden include:
- Shovel—no garden is complete without having a shovel to dig holes, get rid of the weeds, and even to help till up some of the soil. You can consider having a few varieties in size to get the best results.
- Pruners—at times, some part of your plant may start to die out. This does not mean that the whole plant has to go though. You can choose to use some pruners to cut off some of the dead stuff and keep the plant growing strong.
- Pots—some plants can be done completely in the garden and others may need a little head start in a pot. In addition, you may find that growing a garden inside can be enjoyable and easier if you live in the city and you will need pots to accomplish this.
- Watering can—while rain water is always the best for plants, you can’t always rely on the rain to come when you most need it. Having a watering can to transport the water to the garden can make things a little easier.
- Trowel—this can be helpful when it’s time to prepare the garden. Rake this through the soil a few times to help loosen things up and get more nutrients to the plants. It also works well for getting rid of some of those tough weeds.
Maintaining the Garden
Once all the crops are in place, you need to take the proper steps to maintain the garden, otherwise your hard work up to this point is going to end up worthless. First, you need to make sure that you are watering the plants at regular intervals. If it is raining often in your area, you may not need to go out and do this as much, but for those dryer periods of the year, it becomes your job to take care of the plants. A good way to tell if the plants need some more water is to feel the soil; if it feels dry to the touch, it is time to water your plants.
You should always monitor the pH of your garden. You want to have the right amount of each major nutrient in the soil for optimal growth. When you use a pH system, you will be able to tell how good the pH is in the ground and make the right adjustments. Adding in some more supplements to the soil can really make a difference in how well the plants are growing.
And finally, you have to take the time to weed. Weeding can be a pain and takes a lot of time, but as your plants grow, so do the weeds. You need to keep up on these otherwise the weeds are going to get out of control and they will start taking nutrients out of the soil and away from your plants. Check on the weeds ever week or so and you will find the job is not so complicated.
Maintenance of the garden is not always the most fun process, but you will find that it creates some of the best fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs, to help you to be ready for winter. Set up a schedule for taking care of the wedding, pruning the dead parts of the plant so it doesn’t start to take away nutrients from the rest of the plant, and check the pH levels of the soil on occasion, adding in some more nutrients if the plant needs it. This will ensure that you get the very best produce every year.
Growing a garden does not have to be a complicated process, but rather an enjoyable one. Figure out how much you are going to be able to handle in the garden each year and keep up on the maintenance and you will find that your garden can be a really rewarding process.