How to Grow Your Own Food
Food miles and food waste are significant issues in our attempts to counter environmental damage. Approximately 9.5 million tonnes of food are wasted per year. While a significant amount came from the shops, restaurants and manufacturers, household waste still contributes enough that we could all make a difference.
We can all work to reduce the amount of food waste by growing our own food. Here we look at some of the hints and tips that can get you started on your journey to food self-sufficiency.
Find your spot
Diving in headfirst and hiring a plot of land might be a little ambitious. While allotments have become much more popular in recent years, it is a big task to cultivate such a big space and manage the upkeep. If you feel ready, great; if not, try sectioning off an area of your garden and installing some raised beds. It might even be best to start with a couple of pots, to begin with, growing some herbs or fruits to help you get the bug.
Growing your own food is about knowing the seasons of the fruit and vegetables you might grow. Most have a natural window in which they grow and when you should harvest. There are gardening diaries to help you map out your growing seasons and ensure that you begin in a way that will deliver the results you hope.
Spread out your growing window
Planting one kind of crop can give you a glut of food at one time of year. While it is exciting to pick your apples, you might find yourself giving some away to friends and family. Therefore, it is a good idea to mix up the crops you grow to have small crops of different food throughout the year. Not only will this variety keep you interested in your garden, but it will also help you make the most of your land for your food intake.
Work on the soil
Certain foods grow best in a particular type of soil. If you squeeze your soil, you should be able to tell if it is clay-based, sandy or loam. Knowing the soil type will help you prepare the soil for planting and ensure you choose the right crops. For instance, potatoes and carrots love to grow in clay, but strawberries need topsoil in a raised bed or pot.
When you are sure of your soil type, begin enriching the soil. Add a generous layer of compost to your soil before planting. If you are looking to nourish new fruit and veg plants, you might want to use organic varieties of fertilizer, which are suitable for edible crops.
It is time to sow
Planting your fruit and veg takes some research. Some varieties prefer to be started in seed trays, hardened and then transplanted into the garden later. Others come in bulbs and need to go straight into the ground. If you are new to growing your food, you may want to buy partially grown plants, known as plug plants, which you can just transplant straight into your garden.
When growing your own food develops into a hobby, you will find great joy in growing the food from the very start. At the start, you might need a hand to get going.
Again all plants vary in the amount of water they need, but they need some water for photosynthesis. In short, it helps them turn the sunlight into food that helps them grow. Be vigilant with your watering, especially in times of drought.
When to water is open to debate. Some gardeners insist that early morning is the best time and others say in the early evening when the sun has lost some of its strength. Either way, you are watering the garden when the sun isn’t at its highest to make the most of the watering you do.
Protect from the elements
Frost, pests and high winds can all cost you crops. Therefore, finding a way to reduce potential threats using polythene or mesh can help your crops thrive.
Then, the fun part. When your fruit and veg is ready to pick, you need to harvest them in an appropriate window. Some will be happy to wait in the ground or on the bush or tree.
However, the timelier the harvest, the better the taste of the fruit. Research when the harvest should happen for your crops and then keep a close eye on them to see when they are ripe for picking or digging up.