How to grow your own food

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Do you think you need a green thumb and a backyard to produce your own food? Think again. This is possible regardless of gardening or space constraints – you really only need a few basic plant knowledge, a little planning, and a few key tools and materials. Bob Vila’s library of expert horticultural articles and advice contains all the information you need for a fertile farm. Here you will find a collection of in-depth guides that will guide you through the crucial steps of the horticultural process, such as soil testing and soil improvement; plus professional canning tips from our Saveur sister site for preserving home-grown products.

A DIY food supply certainly takes more time and effort than running to the grocery store, but it makes it great to learn this skill. You can work by hand, get in touch with nature, and really understand where your food comes from.

Whether you simply want to expand your household’s healthy snacks or pack your pantry with year-round delicacies, read on to learn how to grow your own food.

Basics of botany

Most plants have basic needs that need to be met for flowering: growing media, nutrients, water, and sunlight. Give the plants you want to grow with the essential plants and you will be successful. This basic knowledge will also prepare you to progress as a gardener, so you can cope with bigger and more challenging projects along the way.

how to grow your own food

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Design the plot

Although a large backyard that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight a day is ideal for starting an edible garden, it is not a requirement. A raised bed or a container balcony is enough, as is a slice of any indoor room. The key to success, as mentioned above, is simply to provide the plants with the right amount of what they need at the right time – naturally and / or artificially.

Before ordering seeds (which you need to do now for the best choice), check out the USDA Hardness Zone, which will help you assess the dates of your first and last frost and the best-growing vegetables in your area. Finally, take stock of your garden space: How many plants can you grow sensibly? If you know how long your growing season is and how much space you need to work with, consider the following expert recommendations for plant selection.

Fast growing vegetables

The best indoor herbs

Edible berry bushes

Late season vegetables

For future reference, it is also helpful to document the food production process from start to finish. As with any new skill, there will be room for improvement and you will be happy to receive detailed records of what you have planted, what changes you have made to the soil, whether you have chosen a fast or slow release fertilizer, and so on. This information and your observations will help you make decisions for next year, so make sure you have a paper or digital diary on hand when you start your plans.

Preparing for the pre-season

Once you’ve decided what and where to grow, the next step is to lay the foundation to meet the needs of the plants you want to plant soon – most of which can and should be done well before the best growing season. In the case of a traditional outdoor vegetable patch, this begins with a soil test. From here, the following tips and tutorials will help you cultivate the perfect medium.

how to grow your own food by adding soil modifications

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Everything you need to know about soil types

Guidance on soil modification

Composting for beginners

The best flower pot mix for vegetables

At this stage, some tools may come in handy. Start with these essentials and expand your collection as you develop your gardening skills: work gloves, garden fork, garden trowel, watering can, pruning shears.

Plant and Tend

It’s pretty easy to get planted young plants (also known as seedlings) from a local retailer, but you can learn a lot more about gardening by starting the plants from seed. Just be sure to plan ahead, as some varieties take more time to germinate and ripen than others. In this case, it is an easy task for new gardeners to learn how to start the seeds indoors and how to harden the plants when it comes time to move them out. The seed starter mixture, growing lamps and seedling warming mats will help your seedlings get off to a good start. For fast-growing vegetables and fruits, it is better to sow the seeds directly in the garden. After planting, regular watering and weeding will become increasingly important and the following guidelines will prepare you for success.

Starting seeds indoors

How to starch plants

Irrigation actions and objections

Weeding the garden

how to grow your own food irrigation and feed crops

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Feed the food

As plants grow and absorb nutrients from the soil, it is important to supplement what they need for food during the growing season. But for beginners, it can be intimidating to figure out which fertilizer to use in the right amount and when. Getting to know the fertilizer numbers is the first step. In edible gardens, organic food is preferred – and control against non-toxic pests is essential.

How to read fertilizer numbers

The best organic fertilizers

Everything you need to know about insecticidal soap

Harvesting and preservation

It is undeniable that harvest time is the best part of growing your own food. You can reap the rewards of your hard work! And the plants appreciate pruning and harvesting in time by continuing to harvest during the season. If you can’t eat it all fresh, canning is a great way to preserve excess fruits and vegetables. Classic water bath canning requires a simple, minimal set and ensures safe sterilization of preserved foods. According to Saveur, the most important factor is that the center of the filled bottles reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. As your green thumb grows and your garden grows, be sure to consider donating your surplus produce to local food banks.

Harvest herbs for maximum yield

Guide to making a water bath

Succession Planting Tips

food harvest in the home garden

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