People are concerned today about rising food prices, food availability chemicals used on mass-produced crops, and how food is shipped. This, and the lockdowns during the pandemic, prompted many people to start backyard gardening.
What is backyard gardening? Backyard gardening is growing flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits on your land for personal consumption and enjoyment. Many people find it to be an enjoyable hobby as well as cut food costs and provide wonderful, fresh produce for your table.
The article below outlines how to start backyard gardening and offers some tips on how to make for a successful season.
The Benefits of Backyard Gardening
A host of benefits exists for those who do backyard gardening. The first benefit is you get nice fruits and vegetables that are local and grown without heavy chemicals and pesticides. You can choose what you feel is safe for you and your family.
For many people, organically grown food is the option they choose. They combine insect-repelling herbs with their vegetable garden to naturally keep insects and wildlife out.
Backyard gardening can also be a wonderful teaching tool for children. They can learn the biology of a seed and how it grows, about soil and keeping it healthy with nutrients, and how many vegetables do well growing together.
These lessons can also drift into teachable moments about patience, working together, and being good stewards of the earth.
Backyard gardening has a benefit many don’t think about but it has provoked discussions among Harvard doctors. Gardening includes a lot of physical activity, so it can make you healthier in multiple ways.
It also inspires the family, even children to eat healthier.
Dr. Helen Delichatsios, an internist with Massachusetts General Hospital that is Harvard-affiliated, said backyard gardening can be a starting point where you take an interest in where your food comes from and begin to make better choices about what you eat.
Starting a Backyard Garden
There are several ways to create a backyard garden. You can till a piece of land and grow plants there in a traditional row garden. You can create garden spots all over your yard and combine flowers with herbs or vegetables in ways where they help each other grow. You can also create raised flower beds that are each to access and maintain.
Some backyard gardeners who are unfamiliar with how to properly do it start with garden containers. You can grow many things in garden pots from tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces.
Here are the basics of starting a backyard garden.
Look at your climate zone. Every area is configured into a climate zone and understanding yours will help you know when to plant and what to plant. Different plants grow best in different zones.
The USDA has a zone map for plant hardiness. It created 13 zones across the country based on the minimum average annual temperature. It can tell you the estimated first and last frost dates for your area. Frost dates determine the planting and growing season.
A pro tip to know is that garden centers have plants with the number of their best hardiness zone printed on the tag. Look for those in your area. Look for the days to maturity on seeds to be sure they are within your growing season for your zone.
Deciding What to Grow
There are so many plants to see that it may be difficult to decide what you want to grow. The first decision is to decide whether it will be flowers, vegetables, herbs, or a combination. Then, ask what are the things you buy most in the grocery store? Those are what you should plant.
You may want to do some research to plant herbs that will enhance the flavors of those foods and flowers that may be helpful either to keep insects and vermin away or to offer nutrients to your plants.
Those who are just getting started may option for only a few different varieties for a small garden. Once you gain confidence, you can try other plants.
Choosing a Garden Spot
The perfect garden spot is level, has good drainage or slope, and gets several hours of direct sun daily. Full sun is best for a vegetable garden. Land that is near a structure is best because a building would protect it from the wind.
Some garden beds may be in the shade or partial shade. Find plants that love indirect sun or shade for those areas.
Tools You Need
You can start with basic garden tools like a shovel, a hoe, and a pair of garden gloves. Other helpful things are a potting soil scoop, a pair of scissors to cut harvesting vegetables, and a way to water the garden either with a garden hose, a sprinkler, or an irrigation system.
Creating a Garden Bed
Those creating a garden in the soil of their yard will have a few more steps than those working with raised beds or containers. Clear away all vegetation. The easiest thing to do is to rent a sod cutter. Once all debris is removed, spread compost in the garden. It should be at least four inches thick.
You can till, but most gardeners advocate no-till gardening.
Planting and Harvesting
Many start seeds in containers and then transplant them to a garden. Water well during the growing season. Most gardens need about an inch of water a week. Pay attention to the rainfall so you don’t overwater.
Mulch is good for most garden areas. It nourishes the soil as it decays and keeps weeds from popping up.
Pay Attention to the Plants
Plants will tell you what they need. Brown tips on the leaves mean they need water. A mushy stem means you’ve overwatered. Clip deformed leaves. Stake plants that can stand strong while it’s producing. Prune vegetation that is too dense.
What different types of backyard gardens are there?
There are a variety of backyard gardens that can give you inspiration and enjoyment. Some include butterfly gardens, container gardening, demonstration gardens, fruits, vegetable and herb gardens, organic gardening, water garden, rain gardens, and rock gardens.
How do you make a backyard garden successful?
You and add to your success by picking a good location, knowing when to till, using a garden mix or compost, picking seeds that grow well in your area, working in it regularly, and watering well.
What type of soil is best for backyard gardening?
Loamy soil works incredibly well. Loam is a mix of silt, sand, and clay. It is best because it retains moisture but drains well too. It has lots of nutrients that help plants grow.
How do I know if my plants need water?
Plants may wilt or the ends start to turn brown. The soil is too dry. It grows slowly and isn’t producing what it should.
Why are my vegetable plants not producing anything?
Plants sometimes will grow and bloom but not produce. There could be too much nitrogen in the soil. You may want to do a soil test and add nutrients to offset the imbalance.