The change of season brings new growth and new life. Spring brings bright, colorful flowers, green grass, and the opportunity to grow a garden and a source of food. In decades past, gardens were a necessity to life as they provided nutrition for the family and revenue for purchasing other necessities. Although large farmers still have this way of life, most small gardens today are geared to organic foods and hobby. Hobby or not, there are several simple tips that will maximize garden returns.
First and foremost, know your area’s soil type. Are you dealing with sandy loam, red clay, or black, gumbo mud? Sandy loam provides the ideal nutrients for most berries or berry bearing bushes, potatoes, and tomatoes. Tightly packed soil is not ideal for underground plants such as potatoes, onions, carrots, or beets. These soils must be plowed sufficiently and have mulch tilled in. Compost is often used in soil to aerate the ground and provide nourishment for plants. Crops that are easy to grow in one soil type may prove challenging in others. When you find a fruit or vegetable that excels in your area, grow as much or more than your family can consume as many gardeners trade or barter.
Remember to read and follow the directions for planting seeds or seedlings. If this information isn’t available, then research the specifications for optimal planting and harvesting online. Allow for adequate space for many of the melon type plants as they will grow out, not up. Vegetables such as squash and zucchini need to grow in the center of a mound. Beans and corn have much smaller spacing requirements and tend to grow vertically.
Growing high value crops is a common practice amongst gardeners. Value is relative but you can begin by growing what grows best in your soil; using and canning all you can and trading the rest. Consider planting the fruits and vegetables that are most expensive to buy in stores to save money. Consider the following pointers:
- Investigate your soil
- Use mulch and compost
- Grow high-yield plants
- Consider spacing
- Harvest often
- Can and preserve excess