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Growing Your Own

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Growing Your Own

Post by assassin on Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:19 pm

With prepared ground you can begin to grow your own, but this needs planning to get sufficient space to allow all the other things you require on your plot such as a compost heap, a much heap, a garden shed to lock your tools in, and a greenhouse.
You begin planning by establishing how the sun falls across your plot and note which areas get full sun and which get the least sun, areas which get the least sun are the most unproductive areas so you site your shed and compost heap on them and keep the most productive areas for growing, if you have a greenhouse you need this siting in an area with full sun to maximise this full sun to get the maximum yield from your greenhouse and there is a compromise, this compromise is how much of your best growing ground do you give up to site your greenhouse? this is a decision you will have to make.

With your fixed items sited you now need to plan what crops you want to grow, this is often so simple and so complicated, but why: your ground may be better suited to some crops and not so good for other crops and this often leads to an overproduction of some crops and underproduction of other crops and this is why understanding your plot becomes crucial in the first couple of years of growing your own, if you overproduce cabbage and underproduce your carrots you can barter some cabbage for carrots with other gardeners, so it isn't such a serious problem. This first few years are all about learning and yes, you will make mistakes and this is why the learning phase is so important so you dont make the same mistakes time after time.

What do I grow?

In reality you grow what you eat, and I would suggest you grow the most expensive crops you eat as your first priority and by the most expensive I mean the crops which are the most expensive all year round as prices drop massively during the harvesting season of many crops and they rise massively when they are not in season, this is why it is prudent to take an average price based upon a years consumption. What about new crops, I always say leave a couple of rows to try new crops, if you dont like them you havent sacrificed a lot of ground trying them, those you do like you can include in your list of crops to grow.

Are there any tricks to trying new crops, yes is the simple answer and if you select the right crop and harvest it correctly you can grow the same quantities of that specific crop in much less space, especially if it is a self perpetuating crop.

What is a self perpetuating crop? this is one where you dont harvest the whole plant, lettuce is a prime example of a crop where you simply pull the whole plant out, wash it, trim it, and pull the leaves off the lettuce as you need them. If we take Kale as a prime example of a self perpetuating plant we dont pull the plant out of the ground as we simply take a few leaves from each plant and leave the plant in the ground and it generates new leaves to replace those which have been picked, hence self perpetuating plants; once planted they remain in the ground and produce a massive yield for the space they occupy, so you can get a massive yield from very little ground and use the saved ground to produce other crops.

Which varieties of seed should I buy?

In reality this is like asking how long is a piece of string as so many factors exist in this equation, the best option is to ask other gardeners in your area as they have the experience of the climate and soil conditions, but it also comes down to personal tastes and how much quantity you need, seed producers are also a mine of information so you can take local experience from other gardeners and combine it with the seed suppliers website information and make a decision. Why buy only one variety of sed when you can buy two or three varieties and plant them alongside each other and compare them directly, this is where building experience comes in, you base your results on your experiences. Many varieties of vegetables have different growing seasons, an early variety may be planted in april and harvested in August while another variety may be planted in August and harvested in November so bu buying two varieties of veg you can have a longer growing and harvesting time and maximise your yield of a specific veg type.
The simple rule is: listen to other local gardeners, read the seed suppliers information, and dont restrict yourself to one variety, and do your own comparisons to make informed decisions.

Economics of gardening play a major factor in growing your own food and while many may grow their own food to reduce food miles, some may grow for flavour, others may grow to control what chemicals are in their food, and some may just like it as a hobby there is one constant; commerce. Every chemical manufacturer has a range of products which they claim will improve your yield and with the exception of those wanting to control the chemicals in their produce they appeal to many other people these people often see them as an easy if expensive short cut to growing, weed control, or anything else they claim. Once you embark on buying these convenient chemicals possibly to control weeds it becomes a habit and you end up paying a lot of money to keep buying them and the cost savings you make suddenly disappear and you are introducing chemicals into the ground. Many people do fall for it when there are plenty of other free alternatives, you can actually grow many crops in small quantities to provide your own feeds and it takes very little time to make huge quantities of useful natural garden feeds; remember the circle of life, it also applies to gardening.

If we take a simgle example, comfrey, you grow the right variety and harvest its leaves and put a quantity into a water barrel and top up with water, after a few days you have a concentrated feed you can use on your garden and for 10 minutes work to produce it, and the time it takes to bottle it you have a years supply of concentrated garden feed, now work out the time and expense of getting into your car and going to a garden centre and buying it, possibly 2 hours and the cost of your fuel; by producing your own you save time and the cost of your fuel.
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