Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

May 13, 2014

Tips from the greenhouse

The Daily Iowegian

---- — Gardening means different things to different people and these days food gardening is the hottest trend in horticulture. A vegetable garden can reduce a family’s food budget, and growing your own vegetables provides your family with food which is high in quality, taste and freshness. A home garden is easy to start and provides many benefits. Gardens require a few basic elements: sun, soil, water, mulch, fertilizer and pest control.

A good size beginners garden is 16 feet by 10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size can feed a family of four with a little extra to can or share. However, don’t give up on the idea of gardening if your space is limited. You can garden in raised beds half this size or even do container gardening using pots you already have. The rules for gardening are the same regardless of size. Vegetables need at least six hours of sun every day and do best with eight hours. Know your soil; vegetables love good loamy, well drained soil. Your garden or plantings will need at least one inch of water every week. If it doesn’t rain you will need a good source of water close at hand. It is important to mulch your garden; mulch helps with weed control and moisture retention. Fertilizer is so important for your vegetables your soil does not contain all the nutrients your plants need to grow and produce food so you need to supplement. Fertilizers can be chemically based or made from organic materials and it is a personal choice on which to use. Pest control is important, as is watching for plant disease. Check your garden often if you notice discoloration on your leaves and plants that are not growing properly, or if you see signs of distress do research, ask questions and treat immediately.

Above all enjoy your garden. Make it a time for family. Being outside together, playing in the dirt, with big rewards for your efforts pays off for everyone. Live alone? Grow a salad out your back door, some lettuces and vegetables of your choice in a container, how easy. Growing the tastes of summer, it doesn’t get any better than this.