Are you ready to grow organic? On your own? It’s actually quite simple, if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty for a few days. It can also be very rewarding if you go through the process with your kids, and loved ones. People grow vegetables for home consumption all over the world, and growing and cooking food is a fundamental human experience.
So how does one start a vegetable garden? First, it’s all about location, location, location. Choose a spot that gets plenty of sun (at least 6 hours) year around, and is easily accessible. Stop applying pesticides, fungicides and weed killers around the spot you’ve chosen. Decide just how much area you want. Twenty five square feet is a good size to start. It’s always a good idea to start small, then grow the garden. So keep in mind that the spot you’ve picked out should have the room to expand, if necessary.
Visit your local construction store and get the materials listed below. Look for straight timber, with as few knots as possible. Choose Cedar or Redwood timbers since there’s less chance of them rotting, and won’t attract insects. You’ll need planks for the sides, and posts for the legs. For the planks, choose wood that is 3/4” thick. It’ll be sturdier and will last longer. There’ll also be less chance of the wood splitting when you screw it into the posts. Follow the diagram below as a guide to constructing your raised vegetable bed.
It’s best to build your bed right in the area you’ll be using for the garden. This way, you don’t have to carry the bed around to put it in it’s resting place. After the bed is built, lay a layer of newspaper and cardboard on the bottom. This will prevent weeds from coming through. You can also use a layer of weed fabric.
After this, you can start adding the soil, which you can get from your local hardware or garden store. You can use a good quality garden soil, meant for vegetables and flowers. These soils usually contain bat guano, worm castings and kelp, which will provide necessary nutrition for your plants. Mix in some of the native soil from your lawn as an amendment. Usually a mixture of three part of commercial soil to one part of native garden soil is fine. Since the sides of the beds are about 15 inches high you can fill the beds to a depth of about 13 inches, which is sufficient for most vegetables.
You’ll need to decide how you’ll irrigate your vegetable garden. You can pull a line from your existing sprinkler system, or water by hand, using a hose. If you use your sprinkler system, think about installing a pressure regulator so you can use a drip system of watering. This way, you can be sure that each plant gets water. Visit your local hardware or garden store and talk to someone about the different methods of irrigation. If you have a gardener, you can ask him or her to install a drip system for you.
Now it’s time to plan out your vegetable plants. You’ll have to find out the type of vegetables that grow best in your region according to the time of year. Remember, start with a few types of vegetables first. Overcrowding your vegetable bed is not a good thing. Choosing established plants is less problematic than trying to start from seeds, and you’ll have considerably less time to wait till harvest.
Enjoy your vegetable bounty, and remember — eating healthy starts at home!