Trapped in the chaos of remote work, closed schools, and social distancing protocols, people are longing for a place to find peace of mind and answer nature’s call. Home gardening offers you a chance to take up gardening in the comfort of your own home.
But, in the past, we’ve seen that desperate times have brought people together, working towards common goals and finding solutions to different problems. Today, the common goal people are trying to achieve is self-sufficiency, to supply their own needs without external help. The most famous example of independence is home gardening.
What Is Home Gardening?
Home gardening is a small-scale production of plants, fruits, and vegetables either not obtainable, affordable, or readily available due to shortages. You can find home gardens in rural and urban areas near dwellings for convenience, security, and special care. These gardens have played an essential role in providing food and income for many families. And because they have done so in the past, we hope they will do that in the future also.
The Resurgence Of Home Gardening Through Victory Gardens
Home gardening goes back hundreds of years, but it has mostly become a hobby due to the rise of agriculture. But, the practice is experiencing an impressive resurgence of popularity during pandemics. More people turn to grow vegetables in home gardens to ease concerns over potential food shortages and live healthier lifestyles.
For example, during World War II, the U.S. introduced food rationing, prompting Americans to sustain themselves by growing their vegetables and fruits. By 1944, there were roughly 20 million victory or home gardens that supplied 8 million tons of food, which accounted for 40% of the country’s fresh produce supply.
Fast forward to these times. We’re not experiencing a food shortage crisis, but being self-sufficient and resourceful at a time of uncertainty isn’t a bad thing. You never know when stores might run out of essentials or when the price hike becomes unaffordable for consumers. Plus, aren’t you tired of Netflix and chill during quarantine?
Home Gardens Growing As A Modern-Day Trend
There’s always a rush of people buying gardening tools and supplies (or even toilet paper for some reason) during a pandemic. Most of these people are new to home gardening and have never considered the practice in previous years. By growing a home garden, you can raise nutritious food, exercise outdoors while socially distancing, and relieve pressure on the nation’s food supply chain.
Moreover, gardening is an essential human survival skill like cooking, which you can pass on to your children, who are also looking for a fun hobby to pass the time. At the very least, home gardening is the distraction we need in this confined environment. Experienced gardeners are expanding what they grow and preparing for the fall season, whereas seed companies see peeks in demand levels.
Furthermore, there is a fundamental difference in home gardening today as compared to World War II times. We don’t rely on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and thanks to bio-engineering, we have vegetables with better traits and nutritional value. Plus, we now have the gardening tools and supplies available online or at local stores for aspiring gardeners to grow their crops.
Plus, with access to the global weather forecast, and tons of information about growing plants, you have everything you need.
The Many Benefits Of Home Gardening
In addition to providing nutritious vegetables and fruits for your dinner table, home gardening offers a variety of social, economic benefits, and environmental benefits:
1. Enhancing Food And Nutritional Security
Home gardens contribute to food security by increasing the availability, accessibility, and use of food. They allow easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables with more energy and nutritional value. Plus, the integration of livestock and poultry activities in home gardening increases food security further as families get access to eggs, meat, and milk from home-raised animals.
In some places, home gardeners also engage in mushroom cultivation, foraging, fish ponds, and beekeeping to add to the food and nutrient variety.
2. Improving Health
Humans have more in common with plants than we realize. Our skin uses sunlight to make one essential nutrient we all need: Vitamin D. So, if you spend just 30 minutes under the sun in your home garden, your body can produce between 8,000 and 50,000 international units of Vitamin D, depending on your skin exposure.
Vitamin D strengthens the bones, your immune system, and studies have shown that spending time under the sun can lower your risk of cancer and many sclerosis. Finally, gardening promotes your mental health and is a physical activity that can be as rewarding as working out at the gym or a jog, depending on the effort you put in.
3. Preserving Knowledge And Building Integrated Societies
Home gardens allow people to learn about growing and preserving different plant species and transfer the knowledge and skills from one generation to another. More importantly, interactions in and around the garden reinforce ties between families and the community, which people need during a pandemic.
Social interactions following social distancing protocols are essential for the integration and rebuilding of our societies moving forward. We can achieve this by exchanging fruits, vegetables, and other plants with our neighbors and friends.
Home gardening can contribute to income generation during a pandemic and improve livelihoods, household economic welfare, and promote rural development. In many developing countries, locals have used home gardens to avert poverty or generate extra income during the pandemic. On a broader scale, the drop in demand has also eased the pressure on global supply chains.
Home gardens have many environmental and ecological benefits. By reducing demand, they start redefined approaches for food production to conserve natural resources. They absorb toxic gases to produce fresh oxygen and provide habitats for beneficial organisms that recycle nutrients, reduce soil erosion, and enhance pollination.
How To Start A Home Garden?
Starting a home garden can be difficult to beginners, but truth be told, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you plan to start a vegetable garden or improve your home decor with an indoor garden, you need to break your project down into manageable steps and ease into it. And at the end, you’ll see the rewards of your hard work with stunning views, delicious flavors, and fresher air.
Here are the ten steps that will help you get started with home gardening:
1. Consider What To Plant
Do you want to plant an indoor garden? A vegetable garden? A herb garden? A fruit garden? If you’re planning to grow food, only choose plants that your family will eat. Start small until you gain more experience, and grow plants with a shorter growth or bloom time.
2. Pick The Right Spot
Whether you’re growing an indoor garden or an outdoor garden, almost all plants need about 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. So, you need to observe your backyard or rooms throughout the day to figure out the perfect spot to dig up or place the pot. If your conditions are shady, you can still grow many plants like hostas and ferns.
3. Clear The Ground Or Buy Pots
Soil is the medium on which most plants grow, so you need to get rid of the sod covering your planting area. Cut out the grass if you want quicker results during spring or wait till fall, so nature does the clearing for you. If you live in urban areas and don’t have space outdoors, you can buy pots or containers to hold the soil.
Urban dwellers can get more creative and use their vertical space effectively. Using plastic bottles and containers is a trending recycling practice as well.
4. Improve The Soil
The more fertile the soil, the better results you’ll get when growing your vegetables and other plants. Residential soil isn’t always the best solution, especially in urban areas, and with continuous construction, it could be too acidic or alkaline.
The solution is to add organic matter to the soil, such as compost, dry grass clipping, old manure, or decayed leaves. Then the organisms in your soil, such as earthworms, will move the organic material (humus) in the sub-soil.
5. Work The Soil
Working the soil allows you to prepare new beds for sowing seeds, which help roots penetrate the soil more easily. This will enable them to access water and nutrients better. Usually, digging is the go-to method to break the moist soil using a spade or small shovel. You can also use a rototiller for bigger soil beds if you’re tech-savvy.
6. Choose Your Plants
This is where research plays an important role. While most people grow what they’d like to eat, you must choose plants that fit your climate, soil, and sunlight conditions. You can search online for plants to grow, when to grow them, and how to take care of them. Here are a few easy plants to grow for aspiring home gardeners:
- Perennials: Daylilies, Pansies, Phlox, and Russian Sage.
- Annuals: Cosmos, Sunflowers, Marigolds, and Calendula.
- Fruits: Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Figs, Apples, and Bananas.
- Vegetables: Lettuce, Cucumbers, Peppers, Cabbage, Squash, and Bell Peppers.
- Herbs: Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Chives, Lavender, Mint, and Parsley.
For beginners, we recommend you start with herbs. Herbs grow quicker than fruits and vegetables, and in the beginning, home gardeners usually want to see almost immediate results to motivate them for more.
7. Start Planting
Many plants, including pansies and kale, can survive in the cold, so you can even grow them during the fall. Tomatoes and most annual flowers thrive in warm conditions, so they’re perfect plants to grow during spring and summer. Autumn is an excellent time to plant perennials. If you’re an adventurous beginner, you can sow seeds indoors a few weeks before winter and use containers to grow plants like lettuce and cucumber.
But, if you don't want to grow from seeds, you can buy young plants and grow them. Dig holes into your pot or soil, remove the plant from the container and place it into the soil. Make sure that you untangle the roots and water the plant after putting it in the ground.
8. Regular Watering
It would be best if you watered the seedlings every day so they don’t dry out. Transplants also need regular watering until their roots get more vigorous. But, overwatering could even kill your plant, so make sure you learn their water requirements. As you might already know, sunny or windy conditions dry out the soil, so plants need watering regularly.
9. Remember To Protect Your Home Garden
Home gardens are no stranger to pests and weed invasions. To protect your plants, you can cover the soil with mulch, which will prevent sunlight from hitting it. As a result, weed seeds won’t germinate. Choose a mulch according to your garden type. For example, a vegetable garden expands, so you need a mulch that decomposes in a few months.
10. The Maintenance Of A Home Garden
Your home garden needs regular maintenance if you want it to reach its full potential and make sure it lasts. Plant maintenance is simple and includes regular watering, pulling weeds, and getting rid of dead or dying plants. Another recurring garden chore is harvesting vegetables or fruits as soon as they’re ready to eat.
Now that you know the basics, you’ll feel more confident about home gardening and getting started. Many plants develop quickly, which could help cut down costs during the pandemic. All your home garden asks for in return is consistent good care so that you can eat home-grown produce with your friends and family.
Featured image credit – Juice Flair/Shutterstock.com