There are a wide range of reasons why people choose to start growing their own food. You might want to become more self-sufficient, cook with more organic ingredients, or simply want to try it out for the love of gardening! Whatever the reason, there’s a right way and a wrong way to grow your own food. Here, I’ve outlined some of the basics about keeping an edible garden.
Get the Best Spot
Pretty much all edible plants will need full sun if you want to have the best yield possible. This means making sure that everything you’re intending to eat gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. If you’re a little out of touch with your garden, and unsure of where the sunniest spots are, then set yourself some reminders to look out at your garden at different times of the day. Pretty soon, you’ll begin to notice where the best patches are. Regardless of the climate, you should also try to choose an area that’s got some kind of wind protection. Some simple garden screens, or even green houses can be a great addition if you don’t have any existing wind blocks. Finding the perfect spot for your veg may take some trial and error, but a little foresight and planning can go a long way.
Test the Soil
If you’re planning to plant your veg straight into the ground, rather than using raised beds or containers, then you need to learn a little about the soil conditions you have to work with. Most importantly, find out if you have clay soil or loamy (meaning sandy) soil. The easiest way to do this is to simply wet some of the dirt in your garden, pick it up and press it between your fingers. If it feels slimy or sticky, then it’s probably clay. If it dries quickly and is more free-running then it’s loamy. If you’re particularly new to the property, or just inexperienced with gardening, then it may be worth testing your soil for acidity or contaminants. PH testing can be arranged fairly cheaply, and will save you from wasting any time or money on crops that die out.
The final phase of getting started with your edible garden is deciding what you want to grow and eat when it’s time to harvest. Of course, this is going to be dictated by the climate you’re living in somewhat. Past that though, the exact crops you grow is going to be largely down to your personal preference. Do you love a good salad, or are you more into roasted veggies, even in the peak of summer? Which herbs do you like to use in your cooking? Are you only growing to supplement your regular grocery shop, or are you trying to become totally self-sufficient? Some veggies are going to be more challenging than others, so I recommend starting small. However, if you want to grow crops on the harder end of the scale, don’t let me stop you!