If you’ve recently decided to start your own food garden, you are surely constantly on the lookout for some tips and tricks that will let you maintain it in the best way possible. Regardless of whether you’re doing it as a hobby or a source of income, here are some of the most important things you cannot overlook when caring for your food garden.
Choose healthy plants
Caring for your garden starts way before you plant it. The first thing you need to do is ensure you are getting healthy plants. While you can start from seeds, some people use seedlings from their local nursery. If this is your preferred approach, make sure that the plants you purchase are free of diseases. Check them for discolored leaves, fungus, and aphids, and remember to check the roots. What is more, you also want to pick plants that handle drought conditions well if you live in a drought-prone area as well as those that are disease-resistant.
Find the right location for your garden
Something else you need to do prior to planting the fruits, veggies, and herbs, is to find the right location for your garden. While not all plants need the same amount of sunlight, you should find a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight during the day. Furthermore, make sure the location is level as that will guarantee proper water distribution. Raised beds are also a great solution as you can place them where you want and they allow you to manage plants more easily.
Consider using a greenhouse
If you have enough space in your yard, you can also consider using a greenhouse. This is a good solution if you live in a colder area as a greenhouse can protect your plants from chilly weather and frost. Besides providing your plants with a stable temperature, these shelters will also keep your crops safe from various pests. Don’t worry if you’ve never grown food in a greenhouse as even beginners can quickly learn how to properly use one. You just need to pick the right type for your garden and get planting like you would a regular one.
Provide your plants with enough water
When it comes to taking care of your plants, you need to provide them with enough water. While each garden has its own water requirements depending on the plants, the average garden needs about an inch per week. Look into how much water your plant varieties need and make sure you water them enough. However, it is also important not to drench the entire plant. By doing that, you are inviting various diseases into your garden. Avoid watering foliage and blooms and water the root instead. Opt for soaker hoses rather than for overhead watering systems.
Stay on top of fertilizing
Just like watering is important for having a thriving garden, so is feeding. Therefore, you need to research the plant varieties you have in your garden and understand how much fertilizer they need. From slow-release and fast-release fertilizer to purchasing organic fertilizer online and even making your own through composting, there are many decisions to make to ensure your plants grow properly.
Get rid of weeds
It’s also essential to regularly weed your garden. Your veggies will have to compete with weeds for water and nutrients, and more often than not, they will lose. That is why you need to remove weeds as soon as you see them. If you manually remove weeds from your garden at the beginning of the season, there will probably be no need to use herbicides later on. If you need to use them, you can look into homemade varieties of weed killers that will not be full of dangerous chemicals that can harm both your family and the planet.
Remember to use mulch
One thing that many novice gardeners forget about is mulch. Don’t let that happen to you too as mulch can inhibit weeds, retain water, and cool plant roots. Look for seed-free straw as it is the best mulch for veggie gardens. Besides the ability to turn into soil once the season is over, it also invites spiders that feast on various garden pests. Other mulch alternatives include pine needles, grass clippings from untreated lawns, and shredded leaves. Avoid wood chips as they might be made from treated wood products. Two to four inches of mulch after planting is the best practice.
Harvest on time
Once you notice produce in your garden, begin harvesting. If it stays in the garden for too long, it can start rotting. Rotting will then invite pests that can affect other plants as well. With that in mind, pick veggies once they’re young and tender.
Be clean & tidy with your tools
Finally, don’t forget to clean your gardening tools. You might think that there is no need as you will be putting them back into the ground promptly. However, there could be diseases in the soil, which you can spread further if you don’t clean your tools after each use.
There you go, some of the most important tips for properly caring for your backyard food garden. Keep them in mind and you should have no issues growing and maintaining your own.