Growing your own food is a great big step toward a more self-reliant lifestyle. There’s nothing better than walking out to the garden for a snack or dinner ingredients. Gardening can also drastically reduce your grocery bill. Wondering how to plant a garden in your little corner of the world? Here’s what you need to know.
It’s not hard to grow a garden, but — especially for those who’ve never done it before — it can seem like a lot to learn. Yes and no. At its most basic, growing food is simply a matter of sticking a seed in good soil, watering it, and watching it grow. There are a multitude of nuances, though. Many of those will depend upon your location and individual situation.
Here you’ll find a collection of articles that will help you learn more about growing your own food. It’s not a comprehensive list, and I’ll continue adding to it as time passes, but it’s a good starting place.
Building good soil
Vegetable plants need nutrients, and those come from the soil or the regular addition of fertilizer. While some growers use commercial fertilizer, that increases costs and is not always natural. Homemade compost is my preferred way to fertilize.
- Garden soil: How to boost nutrients naturally
- Mulching for moisture retention and soil building
- Turn invasive weeds into free fertilizer
- Build a worm bin for less than $5
- Try trench composting
- Work smarter and compost in place
- Composting coffee grounds
- Create almost-instant compost in your blender
- Composting for the lazy person
- Making a lasagna bed garden
- The Art of Gardening is an in-depth primer on building your soil
How to plant a garden
Of course there’s no single correct way to plant a garden, so you’ll want to explore the options.
- The basics of planting a vegetable garden
- How to start seeds: pre-sprouting & direct sowing
- Choosing the best crops for your space
- Maximize your space
- Permaculture methods for a backyard oasis
- Creating a drought tolerant garden
- Planting tomatoes for strong growth
- How much should you plant?
- Vegetables that grow in the shade
How does your garden grow?
The options for growing food are varied. What you choose to grow will likely differ from what your neighbor grows, but a garden full of food is a winning situation no matter what you plant.
- Perennial plants that provide a harvest year after year
- How to plant a garden full of calorie-dense foods
- Fast crops for a late-start garden
- Edible flowers for remarkable salads
- Growing grain in a small garden
- Quirky veggies to dazzle your garden
- Pretty edibles for front yard gardening
- (Almost) fail-proof crops for beginners
Garden crops to consider
What vegetables do you find yourself buying a lot of? That’s a great place to start!
- Growing Swiss chard
- How to grow peppers
- Sweet basil – for you and for the bees
- How to grow turmeric
- Planting yacon for a low-effort harvest
- Growing lemongrass
- How to grow sweet potatoes
- Grow your own coffee
- Stevia for natural sweetening
- Growing carrots like grandpa
Small space gardening
We don’t all have a large yard (or acreage!) in which to grow food. Making the most of the space we DO have is critical.
- How to grow a fig in a container
- Growing miniature fruit trees in pots
- Growing a container garden
- Getting the most out of your small space
- Creating food islands for intensive production
- Instant raised beds with Smart Pots
- Make a wicking bed
- Grow 17 plants in one square foot
- How to grow blueberries in containers
If you’re limited on space or facing winter, consider growing some of your own food indoors.
- Growing lettuce indoors
- Popcorn microgreens
- Growing windowsill herbs
- Fast growing microgreens for winter salads
- Bean sprouts – winter greens for pennies
- Sweet potato leaves for early greens
Vertical gardening for small space gardens
Growing UP means you’ll need less surface space to produce a harvest.
- Inexpensive trellis ideas for vertical gardening
- Grow a salad tower
- Build a bamboo trellis
- Upside-down tomatoes
Expand your options and try growing some of your own fruit in the backyard.
- Five reasons to grow a crabapple
- Grow a nectarine tree from seed
- Perennials to encourage pollinators
- Bare root trees for your home orchard
- 10 fruit trees for edible landscaping
- Blueberries for a small garden fruit harvest
Natural pest control
Pests can be a problem, but try to avoid resorting to harsh poisons. You don’t want that on your food.
- Combating pests and disease in the garden naturally
- Organic pest control methods
- Controlling Japanese beetles in the garden
- Growing buckwheat for a healthier garden
- Controlling aphids naturally
- Critter proofing raised beds
- Planting for disease resistance
- Natural slug and snail control
- Controlling cabbage moths
- Eradicating gophers in the garden
- Eliminating fruit flies in compost
Harvesting your crops and saving seeds
Saving seeds from year to year and extending your harvests will save money in the long run.
- How to harvest basil all season long
- Extend your lettuce crop with this harvesting technique
- Saving basil seeds
- Seed saving for food security
Maintaining your garden with less work
Gardening hacks, information, and ideas for making the most of your gardening efforts.
- Natural weed killers
- Encouraging Mason bees for pollination
- Using a small rototiller in your garden
- Using eggshells in the garden
- Gardening hacks to save time and money
- Herbs: companion planting for a robust garden
- Growing perennial peanut grass
- Diatomaceous earth for pest control
- Using fall leaves in the garden
- Know what’s in your water to prevent damage
- Eat the weeds
- Winter garden projects to tackle in the off-season