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For Anyone That Wants to Grow Their Own Food But Can’t Get Started

gardening

Less than 100 year ago, before you could simply run down to the nearest store and take your pick of any piece of produce you could want (whether it’s in season or not) nearly everyone had a vegetable garden.

 

Vegetable gardens were a way of life. Even early city dwellers that could no longer go out and hunt for meat still used a vegetable garden to supply a huge chunk of their daily food. During World War 1 and 2 even the government strongly encouraged the public to plant “Victory Gardens” to help supplement domestic food production since so many resources were going to the war.

 

Gardening is a crucial part of a well-constructed food storage and food production system. Even if you’ve been stockpiling food for years, you still have a massive hole in your preps if you haven’t started a garden. Preps only last for so long. In order to be truly self-reliant you have to start PRODUCING food as well as storing it.

 

In today’s post we’re going to go over how to start a garden that will efficiently produce food for you and your family year after year, with as little maintenance as possible.

 

Planning

 

Growing a garden isn’t hard. At its most basic level plants simply need dirt, water and sun to grow. If you provide these three things to a seed it will grow and it will produce food for you. All of the more “complicated” gardening tactics and tips are simply about increasing your harvest or maybe dealing with the occasional pest.

 

The first step you should take is checking what USDA zone you are in. Certain plants will grow better in certain areas and there are a lot of plants that simply won’t grow in some areas. In order to pick what kinds of vegetables you want to grow you’re going to need to make sure that they can be grown in your area.

 

Here is a link you can use to find your USDA zone.

 

Next you’ll want to decide what vegetables you want to plant. Obviously there are thousands of different varieties to choose from, but again, you’ll only be able to grow plants that will thrive in your region.

 

Here is a link that will give you a list of vegetables that will grow well in your USDA zone; including planting dates (for both spring and fall planting) and other information you’ll need when planting such as distance between plants and depth of planting.

 

Soil

 

Even though there are only 3 core elements for growing vegetable plants, (soil, water and sunlight) there is an entire library of information out there about soil. You could spend years researching various soil enhancements, ph levels…the list goes on. Personally, I don’t have the time to dedicate several years to redeveloping the soil in my area, which is why I usually suggest container, or raised bed gardens to most people since you’re not actually using the soil on land and are instead making your own or using prepackaged soil. It makes the process a lot easier and it could avoid potential complications with your soil

 

If you are interested in testing your soil (which if you have the time and resources isn’t a bad idea) contact the horticulture extension office at your local university. They will be able to point you in the right direction to have a soil test done. This will test for PH levels, toxins and dozens of other attributes to your soil that may or may not be beneficial to you and your garden. Otherwise, just get some planting containers or set up a simple 4’x8’ raised bed and fill it with quality top soil.

 

Seeds

 

Once you’ve planned out your garden and set up your soil it’s time to pick out some seeds. You can easily pick up the $1 package of seeds from your local Walmart or hardware store and they should work OK. In reality any seed that’s not old and dried out should work just fine. However, personally I would suggest looking into some non-GMO, open pollinated or organic seeds. If you’re not on the non-GMO bandwagon already, the biggest reason (for me) to use non-GMO seeds is simply because non-GMO veggies just taste so much better than their GMO counterparts.

 

If you haven’t taken advantage of the Ready4itall.org special offer at Whiteside Seed, head over there today and receive 2 packets of premium, open-pollinated seeds absolutely FREE. No catch… all ready4itall.org readers are eligible to receive this special gift!

 

Sunlight

 

Certain plants need more than others. Before committing to a particular plant you need to make sure that it will grow well in the light conditions of your garden. If your garden gets a good amount of sunlight, you’re probably good to go to grow most everything that’s approved for your zone.

 

However, if your garden doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight you’ll want to do a little research on the plants you want to grow to make sure they will still strive under less than ideal lighting. Most plants will still do OK in lower lit areas; but you’ll probably see a decrease in vegetable production and yield.

 

Mulching

 

First off, contrary to popular belief, mulching is absolutely not necessary to grow a garden. That being said, mulching can be extremely beneficial. Mulching is simply adding wood chips, peat moss, grass clippings/leaves or compost to your top soil after your plants have been planted.

 

Mulch can help reduce weeds in your garden significantly and it can add nutrients to your soil. It isn’t a necessity for a successful garden, but it does make things a lot easier, especially if you’re using compost to increase the soil’s fertility. It can also dignificantly increase your vegetable production.

 

Companion planting

 

Certain types of plants grow very well together and can help each other thrive. On the other hand, certain types of plants should never be grown in close proximity to each other because one could take over the other’s space and stunt its growth.

 

Here is a useful site that will give you a good idea of what plants would be good for companion planting in your garden.

 

 

If you’ve been on the fence about starting a garden, take some of these tips and get started this year. Even if all you do is put a pot with some dirt and a pepper plant on your porch you’re still headed in the right direction.

 

Be warned!! Eating fresh, homegrown vegetables is an easy way to catch the gardening bug. Before long your whole backyard is going to be overrun with delicious food! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

 

 

Thanks for reading everyone. Stay safe out there!

Rick

Ready4itall.org

 

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4 comments

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  1. gardener

    What a great article! Really helpful information. I think one of the links is missing though.

    “Here is a link that will give you a list of vegetables that will grow well in your USDA zone”

    1. Ready4ItAll

      I just checked the link and it appears to be working on my end. the actual URL is http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
      thanks for reading!

      1. gardener

        Ah ok, thanks. That one did work. I must be overlooking where to find the types of vegetables that work in a USDA zone after you find out what zone you’re in.

      2. D R Allen

        I think what they are saying is NOT that it isn’t a valid link, it is that it appears ~ two paragraphs too soon in the article.

        Otherwise, I agree – it is an EXCELLENT article, and your timing is perfect.

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