Having a productive veggie patch or herb garden can be extremely rewarding. Not only does it allow you to grow super fresh produce right outside your back door, but it can also save money on your grocery bills. Growing your own food is also better for the environment as there's no packaging or air miles involved.
When making a decision to purchase your next property, discuss with your real estate agency about your garden requirements. With some planning and preparation, anyone can transform their outdoor space into a thriving edible garden. Whether you have a large backyard or just a small patio or balcony, there are plenty of options for cultivating veggies, herbs and more. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your available garden area for food production:
Take Stock of Your Space
First, take a good look at the outdoor area you want to use for growing food. Consider the amount of usable space, sunlight availability, soil quality and drainage. A sunny, flat spot with decent soil is ideal, but gardens can flourish in all kinds of environments with a bit of work.
Decide What You Want to Grow
Figure out what you and your family like to eat fresh from the garden. Do you love tomatoes, greens, carrots and fresh herbs? Focus on crops that you'll enjoy eating or using in cooking. Easy-to-grow veggies for beginners include tomatoes, leafy greens, beans, radishes, peppers and herbs like basil, parsley and mint.
Prep Your Planting Beds
Create defined planting beds and enrich the soil if needed. Outline beds with lumber, rocks or bricks. Mix in compost or manure to improve drainage and nutrient content in poor soils. You can also create raised beds that provide the perfect soil environment for plant roots.
Maximise Growing Space
Look for any unused vertical or tight spaces to maximize your growing capacity. Try trellising or staking plants like tomatoes and beans. Plant quick-growing greens and herbs in gaps between larger veggies. Use containers for patio or balcony gardens. Hang planters along fences to take advantage of vertical growing space.
Start Seeds or Use Transplants
You can start some veggies and herbs from seed or opt for nursery transplants. Starting from seed indoors gives you more variety, but transplants are easier for beginners. A mix of seeds and starts allows you to grow heat-loving plants from seed indoors, then transplant them out later. Direct sow fast-growing crops like lettuce, radishes and baby greens right in the garden bed.
Provide Proper Care
Follow best practices for watering, fertilizing, weeding and pest control. Deeply water beds weekly, avoid overhead watering and use mulch to retain moisture. Apply balanced organic fertilizer at planting time. Stay on top of weeds and pick off pests by hand immediately to prevent spreading.
Choose Suitable Varieties
When possible, select vegetable and herb varieties suited to your climate and conditions. Heat and drought-tolerant types do best for warm climates with minimal watering. Quick-maturing, cold-hardy varieties like lettuces, kale and radishes are great for cool-season gardens.
Plan For Ongoing Harvests
Stagger plantings of crops like lettuce, beans and radishes for continuous harvests all season. Replant fast-growing vegetables after harvesting earlier crops. With careful timing, you can maximize production from each planting bed.
Preserve and Store Your Bounty
Enjoy your garden-fresh produce immediately, preserve extras by canning or freezing, and share the bounty with family, friends and neighbours. Nothing beats tomato sauce or pesto made with ingredients from your own garden. Extend the harvest by learning how to best store pumpkins, onions, carrots, potatoes and other crops.
Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, no matter how big or small your outdoor space, provides fresh nourishing food for your family while satisfying your green thumb. With some planning and preparation, anyone can create a garden oasis geared for producing food right at home.