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Gardening Tips 1-5


Tips 1-5

1. Start

2. Start small, grow with skill, space, and time

3. Build on success (try beans, kitchen herbs & radishes)

4. Grow only what you will eat

5. Grow what grows well in your location

1. Start

You can dream about the perfect Garden. You can imagine an abundance of fresh, healthy food for you and your family. Picture saving money by avoiding the grocery stores with their ever-increasing prices and shortages. Imagine all the dishes you will be able eat, how much food you will be able to share with friends and family.

You can drool over the latest seed catalogs, over all the delectable varieties that never make it to a store, the really good ones that only home-growers know about.

You can dream and plan season after season, year after year. Or you can just start. Stop planning and start planting. Even it’s just one plant or one seed. Start and figure the rest out as you move forward. You will never have any food that you grew until you actually start growing something.

2. Start small, grow with skill, space, and time

Start small and have success. Success will fuel the passion to move forward. Doing too much in the beginning is a recipe for failure.

Start with a single plant in your kitchen window, a pot of tomatoes on the deck, or a 2 by 4 foot patch in the backyard. It is easy to start with potted seedlings & young plants so get something in a small pot that you want to grow and then plant it. Even if it’s just an herb plant a sunny kitchen window.

3. Build on success (try beans, kitchen herbs & radishes)

The most common way used to get a kids interested in growing plants is to have them plant a bean seed in a cup filled with soil. This happens in elementary schools all over the world.

Bean plants germinate and emerge from the soil in about 4 days, depending on the temperature. Beans grow incredibly fast, just like the magic beans in the Jack and the Beanstalk fable. In 6-8 weeks beans are ready to pick and eat.

Start with beans even if that is not a favorite food. You need to experience something that is fast and easy to grow. And you may find out that a real bean is really good, nothing like you’ve ever tried from a can or a frozen bag, or even fresh green beans from the produce section of your grocery store. Homegrown food is nothing like the produce available in stores. Now you can learn what real food tastes like.

A culinary herb in the kitchen is another great starter plant. It will not only get looked after daily, you will be able to start pinching leaves and cooking with it almost right away. (Only use a little of the plant at a time, especially when little. Too much might kill it.) Most kitchen herbs are particularly hardy.

Radish is another seed that is good to start with. They are ready to eat in just 28 days. Start them in a patio pot or garden bed. They do not like to be transplanted because they are a root crop and the disturbance can kill them. This is true of most root crops, like carrots for example.

I like to plant radishes amongst my lettuce seeds. The radish grows up quickly to shade protect the lettuce seedlings, which start out very small and weak. Once the radish is big enough to be in the way of the lettuce it’s time to harvest the radishes.

Try them once, even if you think you don’t like them. Again, homegrown produce may surprise you. They can be eaten fresh (they are popular with salt and beer), they can be cooked, or they can be pickled, which many people like even if they don’t like fresh or cooked radish.

Even if the beans and radishes are not to your liking they will not be going to waste. They can feed a chicken, for example, or act as mulch in the garden or fodder for a compost pile. Nothing will be wasted. Even weeds become a resource when used as animal feed, mulch, or compost.

One you have success with quick and easy seeds you can try to plant some seeds that take longer to germinate. Most veggie crops germinate within 2-3 weeks. Starting with quick growing seeds will give you faith. If your first seedlings take a few weeks to sprout, you may lose interest or forget about them before they’ve shown their precious little green heads.

Another magical thing about starting with beans is that they can be grown in a cup in the kitchen during winter. You don’t have to lose any of your growing season getting some motivational success.

When you have a space to keep it, get a pet hen and learn how to feed it with kitchen scrapes, without buying any feed. Find out what a clean healthy chicken egg really tastes like, and how healthy it makes your body feel.

As you learn skills and gain confidence you can expand your Liberty Garden both in size and complexity. Mistakes will happen. Things will go wrong even if you do everything right. That’s how Nature behaves.

Mistakes are the things you will remember the best. You learn from what goes wrong, not what goes right. Because mistakes are inevitable, it is important to focus on ways to have success, especially in the beginning, so that you can maintain a positive attitude, so that your momentum can grow. Start where you are. Move forward at your own level. Just keep moving.

4. Grow only what you will eat

It will be a waste of time and resources to grow food if you and your family or your animals or pets will not eat it. Focus on growing things you will actually eat. The catalogs are full of enticing photos and descriptions. Start with what you are certain you will eat.

Try only one or two new things a year, especially when you are a beginner. Remember we want to build on successes and avoid failures as much as possible. Growing something you don’t even want to harvest is not going to build confidence or pleasure. In fact it may cause you to avoid the garden altogether.

5. Grow what grows well in your location

If you live in the cold white north don’t expect to grow bananas. If you are in the tropics don’t expect to grow peaches.

Grow not only what is appropriate for your climate zone, but what grows easily where you live. Grow food to sustain yourself and your family by focusing on success, yield, and ease of labor. You can try some fancy things as a hobby and as your skills improve, but growing a garden with the goal of producing food you can eat should be as simple and easy as possible.

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