Ever thought about growing your own garden at home but don’t know where to start?

There are many benefits to growing plants and vegetables at home. Gardening helps save money, reduces stress, and of course, is good for the environment.

Sustainable gardening aims to benefit the environment, rather than harming it. This means avoiding excess waste and minimizing the negative impact on the local ecosystem.

Traditional gardens use chemicals, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. By using these things, they tend to do more harm than good. Having a sustainable garden also helps reduce energy costs and conserve water.

Here are our top ten tips and tricks for starting your own garden:

Start small – consider what to plant

It’s important to remember that gardening can take up a lot of time and space so it’s recommended to start small.

Think about what your favorite fruit or vegetable is or what you tend to buy the most from the grocery store and begin with that. Once you begin to understand at-home gardening, you can add more variety to the types of produce you want to grow.

Choose native plants

Selecting plants that are native to your region will help ecologically and financially. You won’t need to replace plants that don’t work since they will be better adapted to your local conditions. Another thing to consider is your location’s hardiness zone. The United States is divided into zones and is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive based on climate.

Do your research

Once you’ve thought about what plants you’d like to grow, do some research on each of them. Find out how much water and sunlight they need, if they require a lot of maintenance, or when is the best time to plant them. If you are someone who does not want to spend a lot of time maintaining your garden, then research the easiest plants to grow.

  • Easiest plants to grow:
    • Lettuce
    • Radishes
    • Kale
    • Peas
    • Sunflowers
Pick the best spot

Before deciding where to plant, watch your yard to see where it receives the most amount of sunlight. If your yard receives a lot of shade, an at-home harden is still attainable. Though most vegetables require full sun to produce fresh foods, some can grow in partial shade. There are many plants as well that grow well in the shade and some plants do not require full sun, so make sure to research the plants chosen to ensure the correct spot is picked.

  • Vegetables that can grow in partial shade:
    • Kale
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Cabbage
Water at the right time

Making sure that you are watering at the right time ensures that you are not wasting water. While most recommend watering plants once a week, how often you need to water depends on your soil, humidity, and rainfall. You will also have to water seedlings daily when beginning your garden. A trick to know whether to water your plants or not is to feel the soil 3-4 inches below the surface. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Experts also recommend watering early in the morning because it allows the water to reach the root before it evaporates in the heat.

Protect the garden with mulch

Mulch helps keep weeds out of the garden and keeps moisture in, meaning less water waste in your yard. Be sure to research which mulch to use, depending on what you are planting.

Incorporate your compost

Having an at-home garden is a great way to incorporate your compost. When planting, put a handful of compost in each hole along with the plant. It is also recommended to place 1-2 inches of compost into the top 3-5 inches of soil in the fall, then till it into the soil in the springtime.

Avoid using pesticides and chemical-based products

There are many other options to use instead of pesticides when an issue erupts. For example, most people use pesticides to get rid of bugs, however, most insects are actually helpful because they drive the production of essential seeds via pollination and are necessary decomposers of organic matter. Whenever an issue occurs, do some research and see if there are any other alternatives to pesticides to solve the problem.

Natural Homemade Pesticides:
Dish Soap Spray: dissolve 1 tablespoon of mild liquid dish soap (make sure that the soap does not contain any harmful substances such as bleach) in 1 quart of water. Reapply to plant every 4-7 days and once you notice that the population has decreased, spray the plants with plain water to rinse off any residue.

  • Dish Soap Spray: dissolve 1 tablespoon of mild liquid dish soap (make sure that the soap does not contain any harmful substances such as bleach) in 1 quart of water. Reapply to plant every 4-7 days and once you notice that the population has decreased, spray the plants with plain water to rinse off any residue.
  • Weed control: Mix vinegar with a few drops of liquid dish soap and pour directly onto weed areas in the middle of the day. Be sure not to cover any other plants when using this mixture.
  • Oil Spray: Mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of mild liquid soap. Add 2-8 teaspoons of this mixture to 1 quart of water and spray your plants. The oil in this spray smothers the insects so it is effective on aphids, thrips, mites, and scale.
  • Deer Repellent: Break 1 dozen eggs into a bucket, add 4 cubes of beef bouillon, and fill the bucket with water. Cover it with a lid and let sit until it smells. Add 2 tablespoons of liquid soap per gallon of liquid and spray plants. Do not spray directly on plants that will be consumed; instead spray it around them.
  • Garlic Repellent Spray: Puree 2 bulbs of garlic with 1 cup of water and let sit overnight. Strain the liquid into a quart jar, add ½ cup vegetable oil oil, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, and fill the jar the rest of the way with water. This is a repellent for aphids, cabbage worms, leafhoppers, and whiteflies.
Worried about space? Try Vertical Farming!

Vertical farming is a great option for anyone who lives in an apartment or has a small backyard. Vertical farming makes it possible to grow more than one plant at the same time without taking up too much space. There are hundreds of options online to choose from, or you can create your own. Keep in mind that not all plants are suitable for vertical farming.

  • Best crops for vertical farming:
    • Herbs like cilantro, mint, oregano, and rosemary
    • Lettuce, kale, spinach
    • Tomatoes
    • Peas
    • Cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash
    • Kiwis
Save your table scraps

Before throwing out your food scraps, consider planting them instead. Planting the inedible parts of your vegetables both reduces food waste and cuts down the costs of buying seedlings. For example, tomatoes and peppers can be started from the seeds. Potatoes can be grown using a potato wedge.

Gardening seems like a lot of work when getting started, but like any other hobby it takes patience. Gardening is a great way to practice healthy and sustainable living.

Want to learn more about living sustainably? Check out our other tips and tricks to living a zero-waste life here.


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