Inside: As a beginner gardener, it's easy to get carried away by the possibilities of a homestead garden! Here are some tips for homestead gardening.
As a beginner gardener, it's easy to get carried away by the possibilities of a homestead garden! Here are some tips for homestead gardening for beginners. There are so many things you can cultivate – from herbs and veggies to fruit trees and grape vines – endless possibilities!
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Homestead Gardening for Beginners
When we bought a house in the prairies in 2015 my biggest want was space for a garden. I got it. We lived there for 4 years and each year the garden plot got a little bigger. Looking back the garden each year was the smartest thing we did.
You don't want your first garden to be large and overwhelming. You want to enjoy it and learn from a small investment. Each year try adding something new to your garden so you are learning how one plant grows and what it needs versus 10 plants.
You’ll have plenty of time to design your dream garden or worry about the details of pest control and automatic irrigation later. As time goes on, through trial and error, looking up information as questions arise, and chatting with other gardeners, you’ll figure it out.
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The Basics of Getting Started with A Homestead Garden
Homestead gardening for beginners is a great way to get into gardening and grow your food. The key is to start small, choose the right plants, and be patient.
At a glance, these are the essentials to consider:
- Location – As sunny as possible
- Size – Start small
- Style – Raised beds, containers, or right in the ground?
- Soil – Rich, organic soil
- Plants – Choose plants right for your zone and the season
- Water – Moist, but not soggy
- Protection – Consider the wildlife in your yard, and make a plan if necessary
Think about what you are planting and then think about your yard. Are there trees that are going to cast shade over your vegetables that need full sun?
I can't grow shade plants such as broccoli because our garden, and our whole property in general, is full sun. Instead, I focus on growing plants that need full sun like cucumbers and tomatoes.
Homestead Gardening for Beginners Size
Again, small with room to grow is best. Think about your experience and time for tending. As someone who tends to bite off more than she can chew, it takes the enjoyment out of gardening when you feel time-crunched, or forced to do the work.
We have raised beds in the greenhouse. Raised beds are great for rocky ground, for weed control. They are also excellent so you don't have to bend down to the ground.
Containers can be moved when needed which is why I use them for some of my herbs.
And the bulk of our garden is in the ground. We are utilizing the ground and dirt we already have. Is it amazing soil? No, but it will get better each year as we add fresh compost and aged manure.
Everyone is going to tell you that rich, organic soil with aged compost is the best for growing. And yes, it could give you your best garden. But there are workarounds because getting that soil is going to cost.
I age our chicken manure for our garden. We compost, using the chicken manure plus vegetable waste from the kitchen. This is all going to add to the nutrient quality of your soil.
We work our garden as best we can. But we also buy seeds or plants that work for our soil type, such as carrots that grow fatter than longer.
Best Crops for Homesteading
Pick plants that are easy to grow, but that you are going to eat. Tomatoes can grow in the ground, in a greenhouse, or containers for example, and are easy to care for.
As mentioned above, pick varieties that will work with your soil types, and the amount of sunlight where you will be planting.
Only plant what you are going to use. If you don't like cucumbers or pickles then you probably shouldn't grow cucumbers. They are going to take up a lot of space that you could use to grow things you do like.
Watering Your Homestead Garden
Can you easily water your garden?
Is the area you are planting soggy and too wet?
Are you going to have enough water to water a large garden? We have occasional dry summers where our well isn't going to cut it and we have to hull water in to water it. It's a huge commitment.
You want to make sure that you are going to have a source of water close by, whether by hose or watering can.
What is your weather like, do you get hurricanes? It could flatten your garden in a hurry if you don't get your harvest in early enough.
Do you live where deer or rabbits are going to be munching in your garden? You might need to think about fencing unless you want to share your garden.
You might also need a way just to keep your animals out of your garden. I have friends whose carrot-loving dog would dig up their carrots!
These are just some of the things to think about when you plan your garden. I would hate to see you do all the work of setting up a garden only to realize the location doesn't work or you are unable to water it enough for you to get the full potential out of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What vegetables should not be planted next to each other? There are a number of plants that shouldn't be planted next to each other. You can learn more about companion planting here.