Built from scratch: Expert’s smart advice about vegetable gardening

The rising number of food gardens in the U.S. reflects a renewed interest in gardening and crop production. Gardening experts have shared a few tips on starting a vegetable garden from scratch.

  • Identifying the right spot — According to gardening expert Sarah Raven, it is necessary to scout the place that is to be converted into a garden and identify which part of it makes for an ideal place to grow the vegetables. The gardening guru has noted that a sunny, sheltered area would be a good place to cultivate the plants. The expert also suggested planting annuals that grow rapidly. Exposure to sunlight sure helps the vegetables grow faster, but certain garden staples such as tomatoes and cucumbers also need a good deal of shelter that effectively keeps the elements away, the expert adds.
  • Tilling and clearing the area — Another necessary step in starting a vegetable garden is treating the soil first hand. It is important to rid the patching area of perennial and annual weeds — such as marestail, couch grass and Japanese knotweed, as well as bindweed and ground elder — before proceeding with planting the vegetables. The expert has stressed that an organic way to clear the soil is to dig over and uproot the grasses and weeds meticulously one after the other. Likewise, the uprooted plants can be stacked upside down for a certain period until they become nutrient-rich compost that may enhance the soil quality.
  • Using a variety of growing methods — Once the area is cleared, gardeners may employ various methods of growing vegetables. An article posted on the Rodales Organic Life website suggests going for a vertical garden if the space is limited. This enables a gardener to grow vine crops including peas, beans, and squash using trellises, fences, or stakes. Likewise, the article recommends interplanting compatible crops to save space. A wide array of compatible plants such as the classic Native American combination of corn, beans, and squash can be cultivated in a limited space.

Trend of food gardening in the United States

Food gardening is steadily picking up steam among American households over the past few years, thanks to its many benefits including lower food costs and the availability of healthier, more natural produce. The increasing popularity of food gardening is well documented in a report carried out by the National Gardening Association, which indicated that 42 million Americans had grown their own vegetable gardens in 2013. This is a marked improvement compared with only 36 million households in 2008. (Related: Start Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden.)

According to the report, millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 have exhibited a significant interest in food gardening over a five-year period. The results likewise showed that 13 million millennials had started growing food gardens in 2013, compared with only eight million in 2008. Likewise, the report also indicated an increase in food gardening among urban area dwellers. The results revealed that up to nine million urban dwellers had started their food gardens in 2013, marking a 29 percent increase from only seven million in 2008. Moreover, the findings have shown a 300 percent increase in the number of households participating in community gardens.

The report noted that one in three households had started growing their food gardens. Likewise, 76 percent of all households with a food garden had cultivated vegetables. The report also indicated that households in the United States spent $3.5 billion on food gardening in 2013, a 40 percent increase from only $2.5 billion in 2008.

“This report clearly shows that there truly is a food revolution taking place in America. It’s very exciting to see more young people and families involved in growing and eating their own food through food gardening…That consistent message over time makes a tremendous difference and helps fuel more community involvement in gardening,? says Mike Metallo, former president and CEO of the National Gardening Association.

More articles on why you should start your own vegetable garden can be found at HomeGardeningNews.com.

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