Before refrigeration, locally grown food was one of the largest consumer trends in the U.S., and it's coming back in a very big way. In fact, a national poll says 75 percent of consumers believe it's important to know whether food is grown locally or regionally. If you're looking for locally grown fruits and vegetables, why not try home grown?
Growing fresh produce right in the backyard can actually be an easy task. Follow these quick tips to help jump-start your home garden:
- So many choices. In making your gardening decisions, consider what you and your family like to eat; how much you'll eat; sunlight availability -; vegetable plants grow best with at least six hours of sunlight daily; and space and time constraints. Just remember, it only takes a plant or two to make a "garden." Also, container gardening is a great option to conserve time, space and control sunlight.
- Test your soil. Just as we need nutrients to grow, so do plants. Conduct an easy soil test available at local home and garden stores to determine whether your soil has the proper nutrient balance to support a garden. The local cooperative extension service also provides this service.
- Feed the plants that feed you. Based on soil test results, complete a balanced nutrient application. Commercial fertilizers are generally the easiest to use and allow for greatest accuracy. The three numbers listed on fertilizer bags represent the proportion of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, three naturally occurring elements in the environment that are essential for plant growth. To get the most nutritious produce, replenish with a water-soluble fertilizer three to six times after planting. Fertilizer should be applied more frequently when the plant is growing rapidly because plants are removing high levels of nutrients from the soil to sustain growth. Remember, plants need to be "fed" just like people.
- Time to plant. Planting and spacing depths are critical, so make sure you read the recommended depth requirements on the seed packets. As your garden grows, pull the weeds out by their roots. A light layer of mulch can help deter weed growth.
- Don't forget to water. Mature plants need about an inch of water each week.