It’s really easy to get swept up in the gardening craze. You have a bit of earth in a pot, some seed packets in your pocket and a whole bucket full of good intentions. A tang of rain is riding on hot spring breath. You are ready to start taking charge of your food and by golly this year things are gonna change!
Quite a lot of us have very limited growing capability, we either do not have the knowledge or do not have the time or space to grow enough food to adequately supplement our food supply. Growing too many different things in too little space is going to yield very little come harvest time. And if our goal here is to supplement, actually create a significant deficit in the quantity of food purchased from the store, well, folks, we’re going to have to rethink those colorful little packets of promise you have in your back pocket.
Chose one thing. Grow it Good.
Now, I see you’re getting in a little tizzy. It’s hard to decide, I know. But look at those packets, really look. What if you could only grow one thing? What if you could only chose one herb or veg to eat for the next week? Only one to freeze or dehydrate or can? What would it be?
Stack up your seed packets in order of importance with the top food on the top and working your way down to the ones that you picked up because you thought it’d be neat to grow or the colors called to you. We’ll get to those, just not right now.
Now, I want you to do more than just read the back of the seed packet. I want you to really research the one you picked. Find out soil requirements and actually test out your soil. Find out earliest germination dates, earliest harvest dates and write them down in your calendar. Watering requirements? Fertilization- does it like coffee grounds (like tomatoes) or blood (like a fig) or ammonia (like tomatoes, again) or doesn’t like anything at all? Think about how you’ll get those things to it and write down when you’ll apply it, where you’ll get it and how much you’ll give it. How do you prune it, do you need to prune it? How does it pollinate? What other plants are appropriate companions for it when the time comes for expansion? Will it weather the winter or will you need to replant new ones next spring? Will it need stabilization later on? Can you seed save from it? What pests are going to be attracted to it? What counter-attack methods can you prepare for?
Become an expert.
Sure, you could throw a million different things in the ground, everything and anything that passes your fancy but I can tell you from experience what that is going to get you. You’re going to end up with stunted plants producing sub-par. You’ll end up with crisis after crisis and not just a few failure-to-thrives. You’ll have wasted space, time and life, worked your butt-off for little reward. For those of you that are complaining that growing “just tomatoes” or “just brassicas” isn’t fun, go ahead, after you’ve sown your primary focus and plant a few other things from the order of importance you’ve assembled. Research using the same formula and plant away, my friend!
But if you do the things above, you’ll increase your yield, lighten your work and have the skill and ability to really put a dent in that shopping bill.