Vegan Diet gardening

10 Techniques and Strategies for Growing Your Own Food

It doesn’t matter if you live in a small suburb, in a balconied apartment, or own a large property with vast garden space, growing your food is rewarding, saves money, and reduces your carbon footprint. Gardening is also a great way to enjoy mother nature by getting your hands dirty. In fact, a recent study found that over 40% of Americans are growing their own produce, so clearly, food security is important to many of us.

If you’re ready to join the growing population of gardeners and farmers who enjoy the work and reward of growing vegetables and fruits, the following ten strategies will get your planting off to a good start. 

1. Have the Right Garden Tools

Gardening is a straightforward process, but depending on the size of your growing area, the tools needed can vary. Smaller crop areas might be manageable with hand tools and elbow grease, but areas exceeding five or six thousand square feet will need machinery. 

Fortunately, there is a wide range of equipment for just about any budget, including single-purpose tools and machines like a riding mower or walk-behind tiller. 

Determine what crops to grow, including their volume, and purchase or rent the needed tools to plant, care for, and harvest them. You should also consider comfort when making your selections. For example, if you spend extended periods in your fields, you may want to buy a tractor canopy to keep you cool, minimize sunburn, and keep working during light rain events. These simple considerations can go a long way to improving your productivity. 

2. Prioritize Soil Drainage

You already know that overwatering a houseplant can cause serious damage and possibly lead to disease. Gardens experience a similar threat when soil drainage is poor. When water pools in your garden, nutrients get diluted or leached out of the soil, mold develops, roots weaken, and rot sets in. Install raised garden beds or use well-draining containers for your plants. For larger fields, raised rows are a great way to irrigate roots adequately and offset large amounts of water from rain.

Of course, you should also be aware of your garden’s topography. If on a slope, the soil will dry out more quickly near the top and stay overly wet at the bottom. Consider planting crops in these zones that benefit from these conditions or possibly relocate your grow zone.

3. Avoid Gardening in Busy Areas

Your crops need a place to grow free of environmental stressors like human traffic and heavy wind streams. The reason is that, unlike trees, plants are more fragile and are easily knocked down. Another important aspect of gardening is building a relationship with nearby pollinators and other beneficial wildlife. Bees need a relaxed setting with minimal disruption to do their work, and threats and insects like ground beetles need to aerate your soil without stepping on.

4. Be Consistent About Watering Schedules

The importance of not overwatering has already been covered, but consistency is equally crucial for your veggies to thrive. To keep things convenient and avoid procrastination after a long day at work, keep a water source near your garden. 

A garden hose is popular for smaller vegetable patches, but consider installing a drip irrigation system that operates on a timer. This watering method controls how much water your plants receive daily and directly waters their roots. Of course, you’ll still need to adjust frequency and amount according to the season, but it’s a great system.

Whichever method you decide on, remember that you’ll only need to water your garden a few times a week with an inch of water per session. 

5. Enrich Your Soil

Plants receive their nourishment by absorbing nutrients from the soil around them. So before choosing a random spot in your yard and planting, assess how well the area drains and consider testing the pH for any deficiencies. Remember, growing conditions vary between plants, so you’ll need to prepare the soil according to the needs of the crop. 

You should also plan to feed the earth once harvest time is over. Compost is a great way to renourish and ready soil for the next grow season. 

6. Invest in Quality Seeds

Believe it or not, seeds come in varying quality, so investing in those offering higher germination rates is important. Yes, the seeds you buy at a dollar store or discount outlet will likely produce, but you may find quite a few need to grow. Nurseries are your best source for the best seeds and seedlings and can educate you about reseeding to avoid buying more from them next season. 

7. Your Plants Need a Babysitter

It’s easy to think that your matured vegetable plants will be fine for a week on their own while you go on vacation. This assumption is the furthest thing from the truth, and many gardeners have come back from Disneyland and found crops ruined by severe weather or local wildlife.

Only assume your plants will get by on rain and sunshine with you and have someone available to continue your watering schedule while away. If they know frost is coming, they can quickly cover your garden and minimize damage.

8. Your Planting Method Determines Your Yield 

When deciding on the layout for your garden, keep in mind the spacing of your crops. There are two methods of planting, and each has benefits and drawbacks.

Intensive Cropping

Planting intensively is ideal if you want to get the most out of your garden space. This method has you place your vegetables close enough together to minimize bare soil but allow enough space that matures plants don’t touch. Cramming them together in this way allows you to fit more into your growth zone. However, you’ll find it challenging to move around and need help to use much equipment. If you prefer something other than manually weeding, this method will make you hate gardening.

Row Cropping 

Row cropping is your cup of tea if you’re more concerned with maneuverability and creating an easy tending experience. Much like the name suggests, you plant in rows and leave at least 14″ of space between. This allows you to use gardening tools and walk the aisles more easily. The downside is you will have fewer plants to produce your crops.

9. Be Strategic with Your Garden Layout

When planting your vegetables and fruit, it’s easy to organize your layout according to size or even by alphabet. Instead, you need to consider how a mature plant impacts others around it and come up with a layout strategy that benefits all. For example, if you plant tomatoes, once grown, they will block out light below and potentially starve out low-lying veggies like cucumbers. Plant in a way that avoids causing unwanted shade. 

10. Stagger Your Planting Efforts

A popular gardening technique employed by many enthusiasts is to stagger their planting. This method involves not planting all your vegetables simultaneously but spacing things out in intervals. 

For example, you might sow your carrot and bean seeds and then wait a few weeks to add in your cucumbers and pepper plants. This ensures your harvest doesn’t become overwhelming and gives you time to prepare and store ripe crops at a more manageable pace throughout the growing season.

Are You Motivated to Grow Your Own Food?

With all the helpful tips and tricks shared in this article, you’re probably excited to start your garden. Just remember that gardening is a marathon and requires dedication to your plants and soil to get the best yield. Ensure you water consistently and enrich the earth with compost to avoid blight. Also, make this effort a hassle-free experience as much as possible. Finally, use row spacing and plant layouts that allow you to tend to your crops easily.