Imagine looking out your window and seeing a beautiful and lush garden amidst the green space at your disposal. This week we’re getting down and dirty to create the perfect sustainable garden.
Choosing what you grow
When heading over to your local seed shop, it can be easy to be overwhelmed and excited about the many opportunities for your garden. It is important to go in with a mission. You already have a good idea of what your family consumes from the grocery store. Take into account your families preferences, and focus on produce that can be preserved.
There is a wide variety of options to choose from when growing your garden, but there is one thing that you must pay attention to: how much sunlight is needed. This is important because it will determine where the optimal spot for your garden will be.
One final tip when picking your seeds is to buy early in the year. It can even be beneficial to buy your seeds in the winter months before spring begins. This will give the opportunity for staggered planting, which will make it easier to maintain your garden.
Raised-bed garden or traditional garden?
For a first time garden grower, it is easiest and most cost effective to go for a traditional gardening method. This means that you can plant flat on the ground and maintain using rakes, pulling weeds and watering regularly.
In traditional gardening, it is extremely important to pay attention to the optimal soil for your area. Remember that the more organic the soil is, the better your garden will turn out. There are many easy ways to acquire the perfect soil mix, but here is a recipe that we recommend:
- play sand
- peat moss
- compost manue
All of these ingredients can be purchased from your local home-improvement store. You can also get even more sustainable by using a compost manure mix from a local farm. Or, use compost soil from your own compost pile!
Starting a compost pile
If you plan on maintaining your garden for multiple seasons, it would be a great idea to start your own compost pile. This is an easy and sustainable way to give your garden the nutrients it needs to maximize its harvest potential. We’ve laid out the steps to get you started:
- Find a small grassy and dirt-filled area of your yard
- Make a small fence to outline the area. (This can be done creatively by using recycled materials in your home)
- Use a large bowl in your home collecting all raw materials that would otherwise go to waste (egg shells, fruit and vegetable peels, ect.)
- Empty bowl as needed onto the compost pile you have created.
- Rake the pile, covering it with the soil underneath, on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
- Take the soil that is completely composted and use it in your garden!
Caring for your garden
It is extremely important to remember that once your garden is planted, the work is not over! Although it may seem alright to get a little lazy, your garden will thank you for your upkeep.
Water, water, water… It is very important for the soil in your garden to remain properly moist. This will ensure that your plants are growing at the perfect pace. Water and sunlight are the way that your crops will provide for themselves and flourish throughout the season. We recommend purchasing an oscillating sprinkler for watering your garden (pictured below). These cover a large area, and will be sure to keep the soil softened.
The last way that your garden will thrive is by pulling the weeds. This task can become a bit annoying, but if you do a quick pass through your garden once or twice a week, the weeds will remain manageable.
Another tip for maintaining the weeds is by using wood chip scraps. These can be found from local farms or tree-cutting companies. Keep it sustainable by reaching out to these businesses in your community. There is no need to buy mulch, when you can use composted organic mulch from your area.
Prepare for the harvest
Just as it was important to plant seeds that you will be sure to eat, it is also important to know the quantity of what you will be harvesting. Be sure to have a plan of attack whether that be canning your vegetables, vacuum sealing, selling at the farmer’s market or using them in the kitchen!
Cover the ground
If you take a liking to your garden and plan on continuing next season, be sure to cover your garden after harvest using tarps or recycled materials. This will allow the plants to return back into the soil, which will create an even better organic mixture for next year.
Get some help from your phone!
Here is an app recommendation, which will allow you to connect with other gardeners in your area, and get the insider tips of gardening.