Many of us were born with an innate desire to cultivate. Others of us, on the other hand, are not that fortunate. Learning to live off the land is one of the appeals of homesteading and tiny house life. However, to learn how to cultivate our food, we must first understand the fundamentals of homestead gardening. For novices, these are the fundamentals of homestead gardening.
When we plan our garden layout, there are various elements to consider and the veggies we enjoy eating. Plants require the following essential requirements, as most of us are aware:
Although it may appear straightforward, many first-time gardeners make blunders by overlooking these four needs. For example, many beginning gardeners try to grow plants in the incorrect climate or a dark location, resulting in not getting hot enough/cold or sunshine. Alternatively, new gardeners are unaware that plants require good soil and believe that they may plant in any spot of dirt. Planting seeds too close together might result in plants competing for sunlight. Plants with conflicting nutrient requirements might rob each other of nutrients if planted together in a limited area or container. It takes a lot of trial, planning and hard work to produce adequate food for even one person's requirements. Hobby gardeners cultivate their preferred crops primarily for enjoyment and the pleasure of gardening rather than for survival. Food-producing homestead gardens will necessitate more excellent knowledge and work. First, we may establish a large garden that will provide us with various veggies to eat. Begin with veggies that are suggested for our area. Next, consider the number of days it takes for a plant to reach maturity and compare it to the length of your growing season. Various growth charts are available, such as this one from Iowa State University, illustrating the length of time each plant requires. Finally, look up the local "extension" office, a government agency that assists individuals in starting gardens or farms. They can help us solve problems, do soil testing, and understand some of the obstacles in our location. Compare the planting dates to our homestead's plant hardiness zone and heat zone maps. This will tell us all we need to know about the growing season and which plants will flourish. It will also assist us in planning when to plant each type of crop we wish to cultivate. In general, new gardeners should try a variety of seeds and seedlings to discover what thrives and what suffers in their garden plot. Then, focus on growing those plants in the future since we need to figure out which ones do well.
Container gardening appears to be synonymous with tiny areas, but in my experience, container gardening is difficult because plants become pot-bound, and their development is restricted. Of course, it is better than nothing if container gardening is our only alternative. However, wherever feasible, it should prefer planting in the ground or a raised bed. There are numerous alternatives to container gardening, such as vertical gardens and hydroponic systems that work in a small area or do not have much planting space on our property. Still, we find them to be more hassle than they are worth. Joining a communal garden is the most incredible option for persons with little space. Seedlings, rather than seeds, are an excellent place to start for new gardeners. If we like heritage varieties, we can eventually store our seeds, but it is easier to get a head start in the beginning. Seedlings can be readily moved from peat pots to the ground (or your larger container). Growing plants from seed is an art form; start basic and buy seedlings.
The soil is a crucial part of our homestead garden's success. The soil mix is vital for our plants, regardless of the size of the container, raised bed, or piece of land. In a nutshell, vermiculite, compost, and peat moss should all be present in our soil. These goods can be obtained in bulk from a local provider or at a big-box retailer. We may also want to include compost from our food and yard waste. If we have a composter, we could be astonished at how rapidly organic waste decomposes into compost. This nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium-rich substance nourishes and aids the growth of our plants. We should also use a fertilizer like bone meal or blood meal, according to experts. A soil test is not always essential if we start with decent soil, but it is always a good idea. If our plants do not seem to be growing or thriving in the soil mix, we have chosen to get the soil analyzed after a year or two. Soil testing is usually affordable and may be acquired through our state university's cooperative extension service (CSREES). A soil testing kit may be purchased at a home improvement store, but the CSREES test is complete.
Companion planting is a time-honored method of growing vegetables that support and complement one another. Shorter plants that enjoy partial light may benefit from the shade provided by larger plants. For vining plants, tall plants can be utilized as a trellis. Weeds will be kept out by low groundcover plants. Some plants even pull nutrients from deep inside the earth to make them available to shallow-rooted plants. Beneficial insects may be attracted to these companion plants, supplying nitrogen to the soil and emitting odors that deter predators.
We must choose plants that produce a high-yield harvest. According to the study, herbs and lettuce are picked continually throughout the season and provide much bang for our money. On the other hand, if we only have a limited area, one pea plant will probably only offer one serving of peas. Lettuce and leafy greens are excellent starts as well. Tomatoes and pepper plants, depending on the region, may also provide a significant output. We need to figure out which plants flourish in our area and concentrate our efforts there.
In specific locations, watering and irrigation are significant challenges. Because life gets hectic, we always attempt to have a setup. Having our system on a timer keeps plants alive and makes life simpler. During dry seasons, even little container plantings rapidly dry out. Plants, fortunately, tolerate recycled grey water (as long as it does not include soap). To keep our plants hydrated, we will need to preserve surplus water from showering and household use. Mulching is crucial when it comes to maintaining a garden alive while using less water. Mulch helps to keep moisture in the soil and prevents it from evaporating. Wood chips, hay, grass clippings, and leaves may all be used to make affordable (or even free) mulch.
Homestead gardens, like any other sort of garden, take much upkeep. Weeding should be done regularly. Weeds deprive our veggies of nutrition, hinder their development, crowd them out, and generate shade. So, even if we do not think pulling weeds is aesthetically pleasing, it must be done. We can avoid pesticides and other chemicals if we opt to cultivate organically. Slugs, bugs, and pests can be removed using natural solutions and by hand. One approach is to pluck them out and place them in soapy water. Slugs and worms are also attracted to beer traps and eggshells.
On the other hand, some organic gardeners prefer to rely on larger predators to manage minor pests. Slugs and worms may be controlled with the aid of chickens, ducks, and even garter snakes. Hoverflies, ladybeetles, and praying mantis are helpful insects that help manage aphids and pests. Beneficial insects can also be ordered online or at garden supply stores. Fencing and even chicken wire will discourage more significant pests from digging, burrowing, and stealing. Keep brush, stone, and wood heaps clean so they cannot find their natural home. Garlic and spicy pepper repel rabbits and voles, so spraying plants with these natural repellents may also assist.
When our garden is completed for the season, it is critical to keep track of what thrived and what did not. Homestead gardens need several years of meticulous preparation. Because there will be a lot of trial and error, maintaining notes can help us remember what to modify from year to year.
Certain crops do well in a particular garden area one year and then fail the following. Changing the planting position and rows in our garden can help prevent troubles down the road since they strip the soil of nutrients. We must make a map of where each item was planted and keep track of any additional observations, such as pests, drainage or sunshine concerns, mildew, or illness.