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Small farmer in a big city

Gardening Basics

Gardening Basics

Gardening Basics

Getting started with gardening takes a desire and a vision.  Everything else comes from that desire.  The essential aspects needed for gardening success are sunlight, water, and soil.  You get a hand on these three main functions, and you can have a highly productive garden.

Site

You should attempt to find level ground to build your garden.  Levelness will help with drainage issues.  Stagnant, standing water can lead to waterlogged roots, fungus and unwanted pests.  To gauge the site, you need to spend a few days observing the micro climates of your area.  You need to have access to water.  You do not want to haul water jugs in the heat of the summer or the cold.

Layout

              Whenever you lay out garden beds, you should always think about what till this space look like fully grown.  You do not want plants shading each other.  To prevent this issue, you’re going to want to layout your beds running North to South and orienting your beds in this manner will help them to receive full sun.

Sun

              Plants need sunlight to grow.  Plants use this sunlight for photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Your site should receive 6 hours of sunlight to be considered full sun.  Some crops cannot handle full sun and do better with partial shade and some crops perform their best while fully shaded.

Full Sun ( 6+ hours)

·       Cucumbers

·       Squash

·       Watermelon

·       Cantaloupe

·       Eggplant

·       Tomatoes

·       Peppers

·       Corn

Partial Sun (4-6 hours)

·      Beans

·      Peas

·      Beets

·      Broccoli

·      Cabbage

·      Onions

·      Leek

·      Radish

·      Rutabaga

·      Turnips

Full Shade ( 2-4 hours)

  • Kale

  • Arugula

  • Endive

  • Lettuce

  • Spinach

  • Mustard greens

  • Swiss Chard

  • Brussels Sprouts

 

Watering

Some people think this can be a little tricky but remember these few rules. 

1.       Keep the water off of the leaves- Excessive amounts of water on leaves can lead to fungal problems like powdery mildew and other diseases.  Drip irrigation will solve this issue.  It is a high upfront cost

2.       Water early in the day- Watering early in the day prepares your plants for the harsh climate.  If it is the middle of the summer you may need to water again around 3 pm

3.       Do not over water- Gardens do not need nearly as much water as people believe.  A Few inches of water weekly is enough to sustain your garden and keep it flourishing.

If it is the summertime do not be alarmed if the plants in your garden are wilting.  That does not mean that they are dying. Wilting is a normal reaction by some types of plants to help sustain our summer temperatures.

 

Tools

I live by this motto; you do not need fancy tools in the garden.  And fancy tools do not make you a good gardener either. I use one type of hand tool to do all my planting.  It is hard to give a list of what I think is necessary because everyone's garden is different.  Some people have raised beds, or in-ground beds, or container gardens and all the tools are not needed for each application.  My favorite tools

·       Steel Hoe and Cultivator- It can dig holes for transplants, layout straight lines for seeding, remove old crops and even till the soil.  This tool gets the most use out of anything in my garden.

·       Hand pruners-  I use these to trim tomatoes, okra, and young fruit trees and bushes. After using them wipe them off and keep in a dry area or they will rust.  Using rusty pruners can spread diseases

·       Hand Pruners (small) – I use these to harvest herbs, leafy greens and remove problem leaves from plants.

 

Soil

Honestly, this is the most vital aspect of the garden.  You cannot skimp on cost here.  I would hold off on drip irrigation and other things and focus on having the best, healthy organic soil possible.  Something that was told to me and is a great saying to live by; we feed the soil not the plants and in turn The soil feeds the plant.  The previous adage explains why it is so important to have great soil.  If purchasing in bulk than buy from a reputable breed and do not cut corners and buy the cheapest dirt they have.

  If you are growing in an in-ground bed, then you need to have the soil tested.  The results of the soil test will tell you what your soil is lacking and will even provide the ideal fertilization recommendations.  A general guideline is to add compost.  You can not add too much compost

If you are container gardening than purchase premium potting soil, if you decide to make your own, then mix compost, mulch, coco coir, vermiculite or perlite, and earthworm castings.  Every application is different, that is why I did not give you an exact amount or tell you to mix equal parts.  It depends what you are growing in the containers.  For example, blueberries love acidic soil so I would say to mix compost, peat moss, coco coir, pine bark mulch, and earthworm castings.

For raised beds, your best bet is to find a soil yard.  Do not look for the lowest price; you will be hard pressed to have a successful garden.  Fill your raised beds with high-quality soil add compost to the top 2” of the beds.  Applying compost in this manner will help improve soil structure and supply nitrogen to plants throughout the growing season

 

Mulching

Mulching is one of the purest and most beneficial practices you can use in a garden. Leaving soil exposed to the elements can cause erosion of topsoil and promote weed growth.  Mulch protects the ground, providing a protective layer of material on top of the soil. Organic mulches include grass clippings, straw, bark chips, and similar materials that will break down over time.

•       Protects your soil from eroding

•       Reduces your dirt compaction from heavy rain showers

•       Retain moisture. Therefore you will reduce the number of times you need to water.

•       Regulates soil temperature

•       Preventative for the growth of weeds

•       Keeps produce clean

•       Keeps your feet from getting dirty, by allowing accessibility to garden even when moist

 

 

 

 

 

Health benefits of gardening

Health benefits of gardening

Fig Propagation 1

Fig Propagation 1

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