Growing Your Own Produce: A How-To Guide to Gardening


Growing your own produce is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It has become a goal for a lot of people who either want to reduce their grocery costs and carbon footprint or become more self-sustainable. Here are a few tips on how to grow your own tasty and nutritious seasonal produce.

Man holding cherry tomatoes in his hands

Photo by Dương Nhân

Truthfully, growing your own produce often represents a steep learning curve because plants tend to thrive in different conditions and environments. However, it doesn’t have to be too much of a challenge with the right approach, so let’s get into it.

Get to Know Your Garden and Soil

First things first, you need to get to know your garden. Think about the weather and temperature that you experience in your garden because this will directly affect the produce that you can realistically grow. You also need to think about how much sun your garden gets. There are a few options for those who don’t get too much sun. Next, you need to think about the size of your garden; how much room do you have to grow the produce? Those with limited space might want to dedicate their space to smaller things in order to make the most of the space. Finally, different types of soil are best for different plants – make sure you buy the right one at your local garden centre.  If you’re using compost, add a generous layer to the soil before planting.

You also need to consider your nearest water source. If you are planning to grow the produce in your garden, then the nearest source will likely be the outdoor tap or the hose. However, this can increase your water bills. It might make more sense to think about implementing a rainwater collection system that you can use to water the plants. You should also test your soil to find out its pH level. Some types of soil are simply incompatible with growing produce or growing anything really.

Fresh produce at PEG Farm in Barbados

Prepare for Extreme Weather Conditions

Whether it’s choosing the right time to plant seeds or to harvest, dealing with the weather is part of being a gardener. Ask yourself: does your garden really provide you with the best opportunities to grow produce all year round? Heavy rains, high winds, droughts or lightings can destroy all of your hard work in a very short time. And so, depending on where you live and the weather that you experience, leaving the plants open to the elements might not be the best idea. You could choose to erect covered planters or even a greenhouse to give your plants the best chance. For smaller structures, you could build them out of wood and use polycarbonate roofing sheets, available from the ClearAmber shop, for the lids. Greenhouses are a little more involved, although there are kits that you can find online which have everything you need to build one.

Choosing the Produce

The next thing to consider is the produce that you plan to grow. For beginners, herbs might be the easiest thing to start with; they can be grown inside or outside and often, you will get more use out of them. The next thing to consider is the vegetables that you eat the most. There is no point in trying to grow vegetables that you don’t like or don’t eat. However, there are a few vegetables that are more beginner-friendly than others, so perhaps start with those.

A lot of people tend to start with produce like tomatoes, peppers, peas or leafy greens because, for the most part, they are pretty simple to grow. They don’t need too much; they are pretty easy to care for. Whatever you decide to start with, you might want to do some research into the needs of the plant. What level of light does it need? What are the watering requirements? When should they be harvested? Do they need feeding? These are all things you should know before you start planting.

A strawberry plant in a garden

Photo by Lukas

Equipment List

Luckily, growing your own produce is pretty straightforward, and truthfully, you don’t need too much to get started. In terms of equipment, you can get started with just a few pieces. Obviously, your needs will be dictated by your garden and what you are growing, but you can customize the following suggestions to your own needs.

Generally, you will need something to dig and plant with, like a spade and a trowel. A pair of secateurs will also come in handy for pruning and harvesting. Depending on the size of your garden, you might also need a bucket or a wheelbarrow to move dirt, soil, compost or the produce itself around. You might also need a watering can if you haven’t decided to embrace another water storage solution. You should also invest in a few things to protect yourself while gardening, like a pair of gloves, an apron, sunscreen and sunglasses.

Gardening plants tools and equipment

Photo by cottonbro

To Sum Up

Realistically, a lot of gardening involves trial and error, especially when it comes to growing your own ingredients. It does take a bit of research to learn about the best environment and care tips for the plants that you want to cultivate. Think about the produce that your family will get the most use of and your favourite recipes. Which vegetables and fruits do you like to eat more often? Start from there.

Fresh parsley in the vegetable garden at The Pig Hotel, New Forest, England

Gardening is also an effective form of exercise – it can help improve dexterity and strength, muscle mass, aerobic endurance, and functional movement. Getting out into the garden can do wonders for your mental health too!

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