There is a new movement that’s gaining popularity with people concerned with rising food prices and world events that could possibly lead to extended food shortages. Although I won’t go into the reasons behind these concerns, it’s hard to deny that the cost of living is increasing, salaries are stagnant (if you’re even employed) and the world’s population is in growth mode. The world has never been a more competitive place.
This movement is what I like to call the “homegrown food movement”. It is a self-sustaining ideal based on having the ability to care for and feed themselves in the event they have no other alternative. It is also a way to effectively save money on your grocery bill. Growing your own food using backyard gardening makes all of this possible.
Starting a fruit and vegetable garden in your backyard takes a little planning and some good old-fashioned “hard work”. Well, not that hard. You’ll want to start with a list of meals you like to eat and what ingredients you’d be able to grow yourself. If you like fresh fruit in the morning for breakfast, you might list strawberries, melon and oranges. For fans of spaghetti, you’ll no doubt have tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and maybe some onions. I’m sure you get the idea. So, make a list of the foods you like to eat along with their ingredients.
Next, you’ll need to determine who you’re feeding with your new backyard garden at home. Is it just you or do you have a family of four? This is important in planning your space and utilizing it efficiently. If it’s only you, you’ll obviously plant less of each vegetable and fruit than you would if it were three or four people you were feeding. You’ll also want to plant more of the popular items like tomatoes and strawberries than you would garlic or oranges. One small orange tree can feed a family of four for quite a while.
After you have your list of plants and how many of them you’ll need, you will want to start clearing space in your backyard for your new garden or planning where you will put your containers and pots. Pay attention to where the sun shines mid-day and during afternoon hours as that is where you’ll want your plants to be. Also, think about how you’ll water your garden. Will you hand water? Do you have time for that? Or, would you be better off with a drip irrigation system? Personally, I would choose the drip system. The watering is more efficient, with less waste and it saves you time, freeing you up to do other things.
Once you have all of that done, you’ll need to purchase your seeds, plants, soil, amendments like fertilizer and compost and a drip irrigation system from your local hardware or garden store. If you’re building a raised bed, you’ll also need to pick-up cedar or redwood planks, screws and any tools you might need.
Back at home with all of your items, you’re now ready to get started on your new backyard garden. You’re almost there, but this is where you’ll need to put a pair of old jeans on and get into the dirty work. First, you’ll need to turn the soil and add your compost. This is the most important step, so make sure you do a thorough job. Your plants will thank you later. Next, it’s time to put your plants and seeds in the ground. Be sure to leave enough room for them to grow. Don’t overcrowd them as this will result in some unhappy plants and less of a crop. Once everything is planted, your drip system is next, if you’re using one. If not, a good hand watering to get the ground wet and set everything in place is needed.
Last, but definitely not the least important step is to maintain your garden. You wash and wax your car, you keep your home clean and tidy, and you worked hard on your new garden. Treat it with a little love and it will pay you back in dividends. It should only take a weekend to get your new backyard garden at home in place and ready to provide you and your family with great tasting, healthy food. Hey, you might even save a few bucks at the grocery store and have some fun, too.