Growing your own food is a great way to save a bit of money on your shopping bill each month and it’s great fun too. A lot of people have started doing it recently because it gives you more control over what you eat. If you’re worried about the pesticides that are used on the vegetables that you buy from the supermarket, you can always look for ones that have been grown without, but they’re usually quite expensive. But if you start growing your own, you get cheap food and you know exactly what’s going into it.
It’s also a good way to live a more environmentally responsible lifestyle for two reasons; firstly, you won’t be using anywhere near as much plastic packaging because pretty much everything you buy in the supermarket is going to be wrapped in plastic and even if you go to the local greengrocers, they often use plastic bags. It’s also a good way to reduce food wastage which is becoming a massive problem at the minute. When you grow your own food, you can just pick what you need, when you need it and the rest stays fresh in the ground.
Most people know the benefits of growing their own food but they’re a bit intimidated by the idea of it. It can be tricky to get it right but you don’t need to be a gardening expert to grow a few vegetables and herbs to eat. If you’ve tried and failed before, these handy tips should help you to get it right next time.
Consider Your Space
One of the biggest problems that people have, when they’re trying to grow vegetables, is that they don’t give them enough space. Even if you’ve got a small garden, you can still grow things in it as long as you’re sensible with the space that you do have. Trying to cram loads of vegetables into one small bed isn’t going to do you any favours, they won’t have the room to grow and you won’t get anywhere with it. If you’re struggling for space in the garden, you can grow some vegetables in window boxes, grow bags or even pots. Just make sure that you don’t overcrowd them and do some research into the plants so you can be sure that the soil is deep enough for them.
Prepare The Soil
Another reason that people struggle to get their vegetables to grow is that the soil isn’t right. If it doesn’t have the right nutrients or it doesn’t drain properly, your vegetables aren’t going to survive in there. You need good compost mixed in with your soil to make sure that the plants have everything they need to thrive. You could make your own at home or if you’re not confident doing that, just buy some from any good garden centre. It’s best to go for organic compost that doesn’t contain man-made fertilisers.
Start Them Inside
Plants are very vulnerable when they first start growing and they’re at risk of either dying off or being eaten by pests. That’s why it’s often better to start them off inside in a pot and wait until they’re a little bigger before moving them outside to grow properly. Get yourself some fine compost (usually just called seeding compost) and plant some seeds in pots. Most vegetables can be done in a small 10cm pot. Once they’ve got 3 or 4 leaves on them, they should be ready to move outside.
If you want to give your vegetables an extra boost and make sure that they grow nice and big, you should consider hydroponics. Hydroponic gardening is growing plants with their roots directly in the soil and using lights to recreate the sunlight that they would normally get outside. The benefit of doing it this way is that you get more control and you don’t have to deal with the pests etc. that you get outside. However, you will have to pay more money to get all of the equipment that you need.
What Should You Grow?
Those are the basic fundamentals of growing good vegetables but, of course, each plant is different and some are a lot harder than others. So, what should you grow if you’re a beginner?
Lettuce is a great one because it’s easy to grow both inside or outside and you can continually harvest the leaves without having to pull up the whole plant, meaning that you’ll get a lot more food out of it. You’ve also got a bit more freedom with space when you’re growing lettuce because the size is dictated by how far apart you put them. Once you’ve started them off inside, move them outside or into a larger window box. If you give them more room, they’ll grow into full-sized lettuce but if you put them closer, you’ll just get smaller ones. Either way, you can still harvest and eat them.
Chard is another vegetable that’s easy to grow and can be harvested regularly. Again, start them off inside and wait until they’ve got a few leaves on them. You’ll need more space when you move them outside because they should be planted about 30cm apart from each other. Once the leaves are big enough for cooking, harvest the larger ones and leave the smaller ones around the base of the stem, they’ll make up your next batch.
Herbs are a great option if you don’t have the time or space to grow a full vegetable patch but you still want to grow some delicious food to cook with. They can all be grown in a window box from seeds, just put them somewhere where they’ll get a good amount of sun. Once they start to get a bit larger, you might need to put them into separate pots so the roots have enough space to spread out. When you’re harvesting them, don’t strip all of the leaves completely, otherwise, you’ll be waiting ages for them to grow back again.
That should be everything you need to know to get started on growing your own food, so get out there and start planting.
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