Grow Your Own Garden

To begin a healthy garden, the first step is to completely stop applying anything artificial to your garden area. This includes weed killers, pesticides, and fungicides. After that, choose your location. It’s advisable to start relatively small—maybe a 20 or 25 square foot area, to begin with. Try to find a good spot in your yard that receives sun all year; if the spot is under shade from time to time, that can still work. Do not use a spot near a building or fence, because there is a possibility the soil in these areas can be contaminated by building materials like paint or chemicals.

Once you have your location, clear any debris from the surface of the garden area, all the way down to rocks about a centimeter across. If there are already plants in that area, dig them out and relocate them to another part of your garden. Once this clearing is done, cover the area with a layer of organic materials, like leaves or dried grass. Ensure that this layer does not come from a yard or garden sprayed with pesticides or weed killers. Next, acquire a bucketful of compost or black soil from under forest trees. Spread this in a thin layer; it will introduce soil organisms and beneficial worms and insects to the garden, which will help your plants flourish.

Use a shovel and mix the top three inches of soil and compost; make sure not to go any deeper, as that could bury the bugs and deprive them of the necessary air to live and thrive. Keep the soil damp, but not too soggy—too much water will kill the life you’re trying to propagate. On a similar note, avoid walking on your soil at all costs. Use a kneeling board when you work so you don’t compact the soil too much, and create paths (as small as possible) through your garden area, enabling you to reach all parts of it without having to walk on the soil. A good size for each section of the garden is around four feet square.

Find vegetables in 4” square pots, or get plants from your friends. Dig holes slightly larger than the main root, loosen the plant in the pot, and remove it. Fan the roots out a little before planting. Once the plant is in the ground, again add a thin layer of organic material to the area immediately around it, to keep the soil moist. Water the plant with a slow drip system.

For purposes of longevity, start a compost heap in the corner of the garden. It’s as simple as piling up any type of clean organic material and occasionally mixing it. Again, it should be kept moist but not soggy. Periodically spread compost on the soil around your plants in small amounts.

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