With urban gardening and sustainable living becoming a growing trend around the world, many hobbyists, and commercial farmers alike are seeking new ways to increase their yield while downsizing the space needed to grow.
Planting crops in clusters instead of rows is one method that many green-thumbs are now embracing. That in combination with companion planting produces some amazing results. The benefit to clustering plants is your crops usually choke out the weeds instead of the other way around…basically, more food, less work. Finding the right structure and practices for your own garden is a matter of trial and error and personal preferences.
There are many variables to consider when starting a garden. What types of plants do you want to grow? Are you growing indoor/outdoor? What is your soil like? What types of fertilizer do you want to use? If you are new to gardening, I would suggest starting with a small outdoor plot. Save some money and let nature do the work. Plant a small variety of fruits or vegetables in small planters indoors and watch how they progress. When it is warm enough, in late spring, bring them outdoors and let them get adjusted to the wind and temperature fluctuation. After a few days or a week transplant them into your freshly tilled garden, and give them a drink. Check your garden often and take notes. Many of the best insights will come from your own mistakes.
Choosing a fertilizer is very important. Many gardeners are turning toward natural, organic fertilizers. I recommend compost because it is free and also a great way to cut down on the waste we create, not to mention it’s very effective. Composting is very easy, but it requires some effort. Dedicating a space for your compost is key. You want a warm area to help the matter break down, but you also want to find a place where the smell of rotting vegetables won’t bother you. Adding Epsom salt to your water is another good fertilizing trick. Horse and cow manure, if you can get your hands on it, work great too.
Growing indoors is a great way to have a garden in a small apartment and it allows you to have a variety of plants growing all year around. Many indoor farmers use hydroponic systems. It is definitely more expensive to start out growing indoors, but for many city-dwellers, it is the best option. From purchasing the UV lamps, timers, and hydroponic equipment, to learning about light cycles and ph levels, it can seem daunting for a novice grower, but with a little research and a lot of practice, growing indoors is well worth it.
When harvest time comes, hopefully, your next question is “What do I do with all this food?” Canning and preserving vegetables allows you to enjoy your hard work even after the growing season is over, and homemade jams and salsas make great gifts.
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