“Organic produce”, “Straight from the farm”, "Natural and raw ingredients" We've all heard these statements more than once. So, how about saying, “fresh from the garden in your house” instead?
In the past year, as we closed our doors to the outside world, we focused our energies on taking care of ourselves. Indulging in healthier habits, strengthening our body as well as the 4 walls of the house. We wanted to buy the most “organic” fruits and vegetables to steer clear of any viruses, follow an exercise routine, try new things that gave us joy - cooking, dancing, gardening, etc.
Gardening is riding a new wave of popularity, with the increase in Youtube videos that show you how easy it is to grow your own vegetables. No, you don’t need to be an expert, and you will probably make mistakes while doing so - but there are solutions to each of these gardening problems.
Getting right into it, all you need is planters, some soil, seeds & saplings, planning, and a whole lot of patience.
Step 1: Decide what you want to plant
There’s a whole variety of vegetables to choose from, but if you’re starting new, you can start with your favorites - methi, spinach, brinjal, tomatoes, etc, or the ones that your family enjoys eating.
Choose between short-term and long-term produce:
- Tomatoes, brinjals, chili, cauliflower are ones that you grow over 2- 3 months
- Spinach, methi, radish are those that will grow in a few weeks’ time
Step 2: Choose a location for your garden
Your garden could be set up on your terrace or your balcony because your plants need an average of 5 hours of sunlight, to grow and blossom. Suppose your balcony doesn’t receive at least 6 hours of sunlight, you can opt for salads and leaves for a while or container planting.
Ensure the designated space is close to a water source so that it becomes easier to water the plants rather than running around to do so.
In addition to this, finding a space with soil devoid of any debris, dirt, etc. would be ideal. If you’re using containers to plant instead, then the soil mix is brought by you.
Step 3: Pick a size for the containers
Depending on the number of plants, the size of the containers differs. It should be big enough to hold 8 liters of soil, for bigger vegetables and a wider container can be used for 3-4 smaller plants.
Step 4: Plan a budget for your garden
As you start, you know the initial investment is in the potting medium, containers, seeds, etc. But, as you keep growing your garden, you need to set aside a certain amount to spend on the upkeep of the plants.
Step 5: Focus on essentials
As we get to the actual plant now, there are 4 things to consider - the type of planter, the fertilizers, soil, and most importantly, the seed.
Planters: People bring home different types of planters, the mitti one (terracotta) being the most popular, while the plastic and wooden planters are good alternatives.
Fertilizers: Organic fertilizers like compost, manure, and kitchen waste are eco-friendly and help the plants a great deal; but for alternatives, synthetic fertilizers also exist and are easily available.
Soil: Food essential to the soul of your garden, the soil should be a balanced mix of cocopeat and compost.
Seeds: Buying seeds off the internet or even at a nursery is extremely convenient, the open-pollinated seeds get you seeds to be used in the next planting season, while the hybrid ones don’t.
Sowing the seeds: How you sow your seeds is extremely important to how they grow, the rule being to bury them twice as deep as they are wide.
Step 6: Maintain the garden
Watering, using fertilizers is a must, so that your garden lasts long and your vegetables grow well. Make sure to check whether the soil is moist, so you don’t overwater, and keep adding compost every 10-15 days so that your plants get a healthy amount of nutrition.
Keep a check for pests like mites, worms, etc. and remove them with a mix of neem oil, organic dishwashing liquid, and water.
Now, you’re better equipped to begin your very own vegetable garden. Start, and let us know of your experience!