Homestead Series – Start Your Garden

 

Does the idea of growing your own food sound exciting?  The first step is to decide where the garden will be located.  Look for how many hours of sunlight and shade this space offers in addition to drainage.

Also make sure this area is large enough to meet your goals.  If planting goals include family members or maybe you want to step out and sell your produce at the local farmer’s market these are things that will need careful attention to meet your goals.

Let’s begin with crop planting; this can be a lot of work but also very rewarding including an opportunity to financially supplement your homestead.  Planting crops will involve some research and figuring how much land will be necessary to be successful.

Watermelon Crop Planting

Our first year of farming we decided to grow sugar baby watermelons, this was a family project that included about  3/4 acre.

Prepping the soil was time consuming because we ran into a combination of clay and sand. Some areas were wonderful where others were not.

The ideal situation would have been to find someone with a tractor help prep the soil.  Instead we used a mega push tiller to get the job done.

This was a lot of work but the end result was pretty amazing and to this day our soil continues to bless our efforts.

The soil in Texas is diverse which is an understatement.

If you find it’s keeping you from moving forward look into reading the soil recipe.  This method made all the difference with crop planting.

Since then we’ve scaled our garden down to a more manageable size as it’s become a one person job.  This space now includes several raised beds, a nice sitting area where quail are raised and enough open space if the urge to expand surfaces we can.

If you’re just starting your garden decide who you’re growing for before moving forward. Sometimes starting small and always growing what you enjoy eating is a more realistic place to begin.

Adding Herbs

All types of herbs are my favorite plants to grow.  Herbs love the Texas heat and grow at an amazing rate.  I highly recommend adding a bed with options like parsley, oregano, cilantro, basil and thyme.

All of which can be enjoyed fresh or dried as a way to add nutritional value to home cooking.

Incorporating herbs is a wonderful way to improve quality of life.

No Fail Plants

 If you want to keep things simple then consider growing vegetables that are easy.  Meaning they’re a great place to begin and don’t over think varieties, just keep decisions as natural as possible.
  • Green Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Peppers

If this is your first year getting started I’d like to recommend my book, Startle Garden.  It offers step by step instruction from choosing a location all the way to harvesting.

The best part it’s like a workbook so you won’t be skipping any steps and by choosing easy plant options you’ll also gain confidence. Learn more and discover how to become an improved gardener. Get it here!

Raised Bed Options

If beginning with raised beds is what you desire building frames in different sizes is a good place to begin.  I recently included 2 x 4 beds and I’m really enjoying the diversity they offer.

This bed can be built as high or low as you desire; you can also exchange those measurements to a 4 x 8 if larger beds are what you’re seeking.

These beds are joined together using screws at each corner and rebar was placed in the corners to keep frames steady while dirt was added.

Key to a Successful Garden

The key to a successful garden is your soil.  You may have amazing soil right now and that’s exciting.  If you’re in question you can always have it tested.  Any garden store will have test kits available if you believe this is necessary.

When the growing season ends you will need to spend time continuing to feed the soil.  I do this on our farm three different ways, year round by using the following ingredients.

  • Animal Manure (Make  in the form of a tea and add year round)
  • Direct Compost (a method of digging a hole in existing beds to bury food scraps)
  • Natural Matter (leafs, pine needles, broken bark, anything natural that can decompose)

      These ideas are all natural and the only way I fertilize, these tips can also be found in Startle Garden.


What Types of Seeds

 Choosing heirloom seeds is always my first recommendation.  A lot of my seeds have been harvested from my own plants for several years, this is a fun way to keep gardening expenses down to a minimum.

If you’re new and just starting implement seed harvesting after you begin with a solid seed base.

Some of my favorite companies include Mary’s Heirloom Seeds, Territorial Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Botanical Interests.

Get excited about gardening and remember however you decide to begin you can start where you are large or small.

The most important step is moving forward.

Get easy to follow tips and ideas for starting your homestead garden. Begin with what to grow, soil prep and best way to begin. #StartGarden, #GardenTips, #Homestead

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