This is a guest post, contributed by Tim Sparke.
When it comes to eating healthily, vegetables are vital. With the right variety, they can provide you with nutrients, potassium and other vital supplements the body needs. Of course, they’re at the very best, as well as being at their most delicious, when they’re fresh. And what’s more fresh than from your own garden?
Growing your own vegetables is relatively easy with a little know-how. Not only will this provide you with the freshest natural ingredients possible, you will also save money by relying on the supermarket less. Furthermore, this is a very green and sustainable method of providing your own food, while enjoying a family activity that promotes bonding.
These quick tips offer some information to help you get started!
Use Raised Vegetable Beds
Growing anything in the garden doesn’t mean you have to get on your knees. Using beds, you can raise the crops up to a more useful level. While this looks nice aesthetically and makes the vegetable patch much easier to access, it actually offers some very useful benefits.
First of all, these patches will keep your various vegetables, herbs and other ingredients separate from each other. If you want to keep various strains away from each other, this will stop the common soil from cross infecting them. This is important because, as will be discussed later, many vegetables have specific PH requirements.
The only important thing you need to consider is ensuring the vegetable beds are deep enough for the plants to take root. As far as width is concerned, this is all up to the amount you want to grow! You can either make your own from the likes of wood, or find a pre-built container deep enough for your needs!
Understand PH Level Requirements
If you want the healthiest, most nutritious vegetables, you need to give them the soil they love and thrive on. With crops, this means paying attention to the PH levels. If this is over 7, the soil is alkaline and, if it’s below, its acidic.
Different species have different preferences. A potato plant will often appreciate a mildly acidic PH level between 5.3 and 6, while a cucumber (a low-growing fruit, technically) enjoys a PH level around 5.5 In this instance, you could grow these two together.
Onions, on the other hand, prefer something between 6.0 and 6.7. In this instance, you would want a separate bed, with a higher PH level for the onions, to get the best crops. This is why multiple beds are highly recommended, ensuring the healthiest plants.
Recycle Organic Matter
If you want to be truly sustainable, you can use organic waste to power and enhance your produce. Virtually all organic matter can be used in some form or another. This helps you save money from not needing to buy fertilizer, as well as saving space in your bin. Furthermore, your plants will absolutely love it.
The most important thing you can make is compost, which acts as fertilizer for the soil. Mulch, which is designed to sit on top the soil and retain moisture, can be made in a similar fashion from leaves, cuttings and woodchips.
Aside from being more sustainable, the compost can let you change the PH levels of the soil. As we mentioned, different plants require different PH levels, but so to do different forms of organic matter have different PH qualities.
If you do some research and save your acidic and alkaline matter, you can create different composts for different vegetables. The best part of all this is that you’re using organic waste from your own home.
Dead plants, grass cuttings and dinner leftovers are all perfect for compost. In time, you’ll be eating your own home-grown vegetables, and the remains can be used to feed the next year’s harvest.
Keep It Organic
When it comes to a healthy diet, your food should be as organic as possible. There’s no accounting for the chemicals used in pesticides and industrial grade fertilizers. Fortunately, if you’re growing food in your own home, then this is absolutely within your control.
Growing an organic, sustainable garden is often a money saver. As has been already mentioned, compost and mulch can be made from organic matter in your own home, but there are many other sources of organic supplies you can use. If you have leftover fish, this can be made into fish emulsion.
Likewise, if you ask your local butcher for leftover bones, this can be ground into bone meal, providing an excellent source of calcium, which will help vegetables grow and thrive.
Save Your Own Seeds
It’s common practice among many experienced gardeners to maintain their own seed bank. This is a collection of seeds from all the plants they have grown. When you start harvesting your crops, you will find most vegetables provide more seeds than you need, allowing you to effortlessly expand and store seeds at the same time.
So, why is this important? When it comes to gardening, there’s always the risk a surprise infection destroys one of your species, or a cold winter weakens your plants before they’ve had a chance to grow. In these cases, having your own seeds in reserve allows you to replant them in the spring and try again.
While it might seem like a lot of work, it’s actually quite easy to start producing your own nutritious vegetables. If you start off slowly, with a few favourite foods, you can then learn your way around, expanding to include more vegetables and herbs. Not only will you gain free food that is great for your diet, you may also find growing your own resources to be a very rewarding experience in itself.
Tim Sparke is the CEO at 4 Pumps and for several years, he has been an active advocate of organic farming and sustainability. Aside from being a specialist of water pumps, he also has a passion for writing and he writes the blog at 4 Pumps.