With the rising price of food these days, many people are finding that their dollars just aren’t stretching as far as they used to. Fresh produce like lettuce, beans and carrots are almost out of reach, especially for families that are struggling to make ends meet. There is good news, however for those who find produce too highly priced at the grocery store or farmer’s market. You can design and create your own vegetable garden that will provide you a plentiful harvest of fresh food.
Even if you have very little space in your backyard, you can use containers or balcony planters. Many vegetables are quite resilient and need very little to help them grow. Soil, compost and lots of sunshine are usually sufficient for a healthy crop.
The first step in creating your vegetable garden is to decide on how big you want it to be.
This will largely depend on how much space you have. If this is your first garden, then start small; 6′ x 4′ will start you off nicely. A raised bed garden will help cut down on weeds, and put less strain on your back.
You can frame your garden with any number of materials: railroad ties, stone, wood or brick. Be careful with older railroad ties though: they could contain harmful chemicals such as creosote.
Next, decide on what vegetables you are going to plant.
Some of the hardiest plants to grow are lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, basil, radishes, beans, sugar snap peas, peppers, parsley, spinach, onions and cabbage. Herbs such as basil, mint and rosemary also grow nicely, and will provide a light fragrance. Your local nursery will be able to help you choose the best plants based on your climate and hardiness zone.
To make a visually pleasing garden, put tall plants in the back, and shorter ones in the front. Cluster the plants in odd numbers of 3 or 5, and set the plants in a repeated pattern across the bed to create a visual rhythm.
Be sure not to use any pesticides or harmful chemicals on your garden.
Instead, use natural materials to help your plants grow, and to keep pests away. Used coffee grounds, egg shells and other general compost items are effective at keeping slugs and other pests at bay.
For those that live in a climate with four seasons, flash-freezing your vegetables as soon as they are picked will ensure a tasty treat all winter long. Your beans will taste just as good in January as they did in August.
Once you are comfortable with the easier vegetables, you can experiment with other vegetables such as eggplant, pumpkin and squash. You can also grow fruits such as grapes, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. The key is to start slow with just a few plants, and add to your garden each year as you gain more confidence and get more comfortable with the planting and harvesting process.
Once you have created your own garden, you will certainly see a difference in your grocery bill each week. You’ll be able to make your dollar go farther and you’ll enjoy the experience of picking fresh vegetables right from your own backyard.
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