Episode 332 S11-8
The first thing you need to do if you are new to gardening or just moved is to determine your climate zone. A good resource is your local or state college agricultural department. The colleges have been working within your growing area for decades. They will know how to produce in the region.
The next thing you may want to do is test your soil to ensure it is fertile. Simplygardening.comhas a great article on testing kits. These kits range from test strips and digital readers that check the pH to chemical testing kits that detect pH and micronutrient levels. When purchasing a testing kit, make sure it is easy to use, reliable, and worthy of its price. Alternatively, many colleges and nurseries will test the soil for you.
Before you plant, make sure you fully understand the purpose of your garden. Are you trying to feed your family, or are you feeding animals? Are you looking to grow a medicinal garden to provide access to herbal medications, or are you trying to grow crops for income? When planting around your home, consider planting edible or medicinal plants instead. I call this an edible landscape. There are some flowers and herbs that you can grow to attract pollinators or help keep bugs away, but for the most part, if you are going to plant it, you should be able to eat it.
The size and location of your garden are also important considerations. Lack of space is not an excuse to bow out of gardening. Micro-gardeningis possible if you use your imagination. More extensive gardens will require more care, and you need to make sure you have the time to care for them, or all your efforts will be lost in the weeds. I prefer multiple smaller beds that are easier to maintain. These beds can be placed in various locations to harness the plants’ full sun and partial shade preferences.
When considering what seeds you should buy, always buy heirloom seeds. You can harvest the seeds from these plants and grow them year after year. I prefer Burpees seeds. I have used them to grow massive plants. Not every seed grows, but Burpees seeds have an excellent growth ratio. When determining how many seeds you need, think seriously about production and storage. It doesn’t do you any good to grow a ton of food that will sit out in the garden and rot because you didn’t have time to store it properly. You should also think about the long-term storage of seeds and buy enough to have three years in reserve.
Now it’s time to get a schedule together. It would be best if you planned when to start your seeds. You can start many plants indoors—however, root vegetables and the like start best in the ground where they grow. Based on your test results, schedule when to add nutrients to your soil. When you plant your starter plants be aware of the dirt level on the plants’ stem. Some like to be tucked in, and others don’t care as long as there’s fertile soil. Try to schedule a watering cycle. This can be tough depending on where you live because mother nature never provides a constant pattern. When adding fertilizer, start with a safe all-purpose fertilizer, so you don’t burn out your plants. As your skills grow, you can shift to more potent types but also more volatile. You can also consider natural fertilizers like animal manure and manure teas.
Don’t forget to ensure you have the proper tools to make your garden a success. If you left your tools out in the garden last year, save anything of use. You can always repurpose them in difficult times. When you buy tools, buy extras. There may come a time when you can lend a helping hand to others trying to garden for survival.
Execute your schedule and have fun! Get the family involved! Kids love reaping the rewards of their hard work, and it’s a great way to get them into eating vegetables. While your plants grow, research storage methods. Find out what you can jar. Get a water bath canner and a pressure canner—research recipes for vegetables that you have an overabundance of, like Zoodles.
The Changing Earth Series
Chin Gibson is the mystery prepper. Friend to all and known to none. His real identity hidden from the public, Chin is well known to the online prepper community as the go to resource for finding a community member to solve your problem. He is an awesome people connector and does his best to unite the voices educating the masses about being ready for a unforeseen life challenge. Chin will be joining Sara to co-host The Changing Earth Podcast.