The keys I learned in the first 2 years of gardening...
Being a new gardener during a pandemic, I wanted to expedite the efficiency at which I gardened so I could be self-reliant as fast as humanly possible.
This meant when I made a mistake, I made quick work to learn from it and try it differently next time around.
On this page, I will unpack some of the key lessons I learned to work with nature instead of against it.
Food Shortages & World Hunger - there really is enough to go around, if we steward it...
Since keeping a garden these past 2 years, it has become bleeding obvious that there's NO REASON why there are people who are still dying of starvation or who go to bed without food in their belly. NONE.
Now hear me out. I spent a few hundred dollars on setting up my garden because I had a certain image in my mind of how I wanted it to look. But really, it should be very cheap, if not free.
There's no shortage of dirt/soil, but it will be deficient in nutrients, and much of it potentially be contaminated (I will unpack sustainable and cheap ways to nurture the dirt and turn it into viable soil in a minute).
To purchase a packet of a few hundred heirloom or organic seeds of a plant species only costs 3-5 bucks (per plant). But once ONE seed germinates, it will reap a harvest of a fruit/vegetable that you can harvest for seeds in the amount of hundreds or even thousands (in some cases), that you can continue to grow and harvest seeds for nothing.
I don't presume to have all the answers, but to me, this is pretty much a no-brainer.
'Soil: Why we need to stop treating it like dirt' - I don't recall where I read it or heard it (probably a permaculture page I follow on IG or FB) but it stuck with me.
When you think about it, the soil is the building block from which every plant sources the nutrients it requires to grow and produce fruit. When we treat it like 'dirt' it highlights the lack of understanding a novice gardener or a no-gardener might have towards the soil and its importance.
So, here are some of the cheap and sustainable ways I've learned to invest in my soil (without spending hundreds of dollars on bagged soil from Bunnings):
- Worm farm - you can pick these up cheap off facebook marketplace if you don't want a brand new one, or you can make one from a couple of buckets, drill a few holes and dig it into the ground or your garden bed.
- Backyard Chooks - chook manure is high in nitrogen and phosphorus. Weekly I clean out the girls' coup and put the manure and wood chips in a compost tumbler. I leave it in full sun for a few months as it cures, then I add it to my garden beds & top up pot plants when it's ready. Saves me from having to buy manure or fertilisers.
- Crop Rotation - if you've got a mound of dirt and it looks rocky and unhealthy... then chances are it's lacking the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium balance it needs to sustain growth. There are some plants that need nitrogen-rich soil to thrive, such as beans, peas, and lettuce. This is where crop rotation comes in handy, when you grow your plants in the soil according to their needs, the next thing that you plant in its place will have the ideal conditions to grow in.
Planting with Moon Phases
Apparently not a new concept! Just cast your mind back to the Magi following the stars to find the newborn king - not quite the same, but it communicates the same principle: the constellations tell a story.
I first heard about Lunar Gardening a year ago - since then, I don't plant anything without consulting the Moon calendar first!
I do however get confused with the waxing and waning, so if you want to know more on that - watch the video because I'll only mess up the explanation.
But what I do know about gardening with the moon cycles, is that if I plant something when it's not time, 50% of what I plant has bolted early or died.
So yes to working smarter, not harder! Just plant with the moon and thank me later.
I must say, that I have thoroughly enjoyed following other urban farmers on social media. I have gleaned so much from these other people and their journeys - it's great to compare notes and learn from their successes and failures.
If you're going to start growing your own, I recommend following as many other gardening accounts as you can - and from all over the world! That way you pick up hints from different seasons regardless of which season you're in.
This sums up the big lessons I've learned about growing my own food in the last 2 years.
But as I'm still on my green-thumb learner plates, I'll continue to update you on other discoveries I make about growing a lush veggie garden.
Get ready to hear more about permaculture, biodiversity, and companion planting.
Got questions or need help?
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you're in need of support or have any questions.