Homestead gardening is a great way to boost your self-reliance and sustainability. Creating a veggie patch to grow food helps you to provide nourishing food for your family. At the same time, you're becoming more independent and decreasing your reliance on industrialized farming.
Learn how to get started with homestead gardening today.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Homestead Gardening for Beginners: How to Grow Plants
Are you hoping to grow plants and a vegetable garden as part of your quest for a more self-sufficient lifestyle? If so, it's important to start with a plan.
Planning Your Homestead Garden
You know, even if you haven't officially started homesteading, you can still start homestead gardening.
Maybe you're beginning with a container garden or even vertical gardening.
Or maybe you want to start a small backyard garden to feed your family. Whatever the case, start planning your garden long before you order heirloom seeds.
First, choose a spot to start planting.
When choosing a spot for your vegetable garden, consider the amount of sunlight, soil quality, and growing conditions. Sunlight and soil quality are the most important elements in determining the best spot for your garden plot.
Remember, fruit and vegetable gardening needs to happen in a location with a lot of sunshine. So look for a spot with at least 6 hours of direct daily sunlight if you want to grow food for your family.
Water and Homestead Gardening
Think about accessibility to water when choosing a location for your garden plot. It should be close enough to either a hose connection or another water source, so watering plants won’t be too much trouble. Yet it should also be far enough away from structures like buildings and decks so as not to cause any damage due to overwatering.
Pest control and pesky critters are also issues. Setting up a barrier, like a pallet fence around the garden, can help to rabbit-proof or deer-proof your garden before you start growing.
Once you have considered the necessary elements for a successful garden, you can now calculate its dimensions and arrangement.
Deciding on Garden Size and Layout
When designing your garden, consider the size, layout, and necessary space for vegetable gardening.
Whether you want to grow a small garden, a large garden, container gardening, or raised bed gardening, you need to plan it. Otherwise, you could run out of space for the vegetables, herbs, or even berry bushes you want to start growing.
And if you're serious about living a more self-sufficient lifestyle, you also need to make sure you're growing enough to feed your family, whether it's a large family or a small family.
Berry Bushes and Fruit Trees
And while we're on the topic, consider whether you want to add berry bushes and fruit trees to your plans. These options could give you more options for seed saving and food preservation to keep your family well stocked.
So calculating the space needed to grow plants is an important first step when starting homestead gardening.
Considering the types of vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and berry bushes you plan to grow, you must first determine their individual spacing needs.
This is particularly true if you use companion gardening methods. Companion plants can grow well together in food forests, raised beds, a large garden or even a small garden if they're carefully placed.
Additionally, if you plan to use companion planting techniques or vertical growing spaces such as trellises or stakes, consider this when calculating total area needed.
Remember the Weeding!
When homestead gardening, vegetable gardening, and even container gardening, think about your own access to each plant.
True, you do need enough space for companion plants to thrive. However, you also need to get in there and pull weeds when vegetable gardening, whether you're growing in rows, containers, or raised beds.
Consider how large each plant will get at maturity. Then make sure that it has enough space around it so that other plants won’t be overcrowded or shaded out by tall plants or fruit trees. So make sure you can weed, water, and give the plants enough room to thrive.
Tip: Using vertical spaces for hanging baskets can help maximize yields from limited areas while keeping things neat and organized. Trellises can be used for vining crops like tomatoes or cucumbers while staking tall-growing varieties like corn can help them stay upright without taking up too much extra ground area.
Homestead Gardening with a Cold Frame
You can use a cold frame or a greenhouse if you want to continue homestead gardening during colder months.
A cold frame is like a mini greenhouse, made with a wooden or metal frame and a clear lid. It traps heat from the sun and keeps plants warm.
A greenhouse is like a big glass house where you can grow plants all year round.
Both options require some planning and work, but they can help you extend your growing season and keep on vegetable gardening through the winter months.
Your local garden supply store should carry all the necessary supplies to start seeds indoors, buy seedlings, and get started with homestead gardening year-round.
Purchasing Seeds and Supplies
When buying seeds and supplies for homestead gardening, it's important to look at all the different types of seeds you can choose from. Heirloom seeds, open-pollinated seeds, and hybrid seeds are popular choices. And remember, buy seedlings and seeds that will thrive in your growing zone.
Tip: Find Canadian growing and plant hardiness zones here. And American growing zones here.
Before you decide, look at all the different kinds of veggies, herbs, flowers, and cover crops available at your local garden supply store. Usually, your local nurseries or greenhouses will only carry plants that are right for the growing conditions in your area.
It's also important to compare prices and quality when looking for tools, plant food, mulch, and other things you need to grow a garden. You can save money by shopping at a local garden center or buying seeds or seedlings online.
On the other hand, if you need basic gardening tools like trowels or hoes, shopping at a local garden center may be more cost-effective since shipping costs could add up quickly when ordering online in bulk quantities.
How healthy is your soil? Get it soil tested and check soil quality before planting anything in it.
Test the pH level and nutrient content with a soil testing kit if possible. That way you can amend any soil health deficiencies with compost or fertilizer before planting starts. You could also add compost or even just grass clippings to help improve soil health.
Planting and Caring for Your Garden Plants
Before planting, prepare your soil. soil preparation is essential for successful gardening; testing the pH and adding nutrients like compost or manure can help ensure healthy growth.
Watering frequency and amounts should also be tailored to each plant's needs. For example, some vegetables may require more frequent watering than others due to their size, growing season, and the growing zone.
Fertilizing naturally with compost or manure tea can help provide essential nutrients for optimal growth without relying on synthetic fertilizers, which can damage the environment.
Seed saving is an important lesson when it comes to homestead gardening for beginners.
By practicing saving seeds from year to year, you'll save money and guarantee that quality varieties are available when growing veggies. And when you save seeds, you can start growing veggies in the winter by starting seeds indoors.
To protect plants from pests, diseases, and weeds naturally, try using methods such as natural fertilizers, companion planting and mulching. Do this instead of using chemical pesticides that could harm human health and the local wildlife habitat.
Use cold frames or greenhouses to help keep sensitive plants safe from extreme temperatures while allowing them access to sunlight for extended periods.
Knowing the right time to grow plants and harvest different fruits, herbs, and vegetables requires careful attention during the growing season.
If you harvest too soon, the veggies will not ripen completely. Yet if you wait too long, they spoil quickly after being picked from the vine or bush.
Proper storage is essential to maintain freshness and preserve flavor. Depending on the type of vegetable, it's important to limit their exposure to air, light, moisture, and heat - all factors contributing to spoilage.
To ensure you have enough food during lean times, you can preserve excess produce by freezing fruits and veggies.
Learn how to store your harvest without a root cellar.
Explore dehydrating food.
Try your hand at canning and preserving.
This way, you won't have to worry about running out of food and you'll secure your family's food supply.
Start homestead gardening and feed your family
Starting a garden without prior knowledge can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. First, you should research the best plants to grow in your climate and location.
After that, choose a spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily.
Before planting, prepare the soil by tilling it or adding organic matter like compost. If you don't have a large area, consider using raised beds.
Remember to water your plants regularly and give them the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong. With these steps in mind, anyone can start a successful garden.
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