If you've purchased a new home recently, you're likely considering some upgrades - like painting a few rooms or even bigger projects like tearing down walls. (For those, you might considering hiring a repair specialist.) Other projects are much more do-able on your own, like gardening, for example.
So if you're looking for something fun to do as a family and a way to help grow some of your own food, farm to table and container gardening might just be for you. If you're not sure what you're doing, have no fear. We'll fill you in on everything you need to know.
What is farm to table?
In recent years, farm to table eating has become quite popular. It's based on the premise of healthy, organic food produced locally, which means that you purchase produce or meat straight from the farm. Not only does this support local farmers, it provides you with the freshest food possible.
You might have taken advantage of some of these fruits and vegetable offerings at local farmer's markets. (If you haven't, we highly recommend it!) These days, there are farm to table restaurants; there are blogs devoted to it; there are even websites where you can choose your state, and it will tell you what's in season during each month. It has never been trendier - or healthier - to choose farm to table eating.
In the event that you would like to produce your own fruits and vegetables, you can do so by container gardening. (Make sure you check with your HOA to see if they have any rules about this first!) In case you weren't born with a green thumb, here are some guidelines for creating your garden.
Location, location, location
Choose a spot that will yield at least 6 hours of sunlight. Beware that placing pots on cement may provide too much heat for the plants to bear. You might consider starting to grow plants inside your home so that they can get a healthy start before you put them out in the elements.
Think out of the box
Lots of people build wooden boxes for their yard in order to grow their fruits and vegetables. And while these are great, there are plenty of creative ideas online that can help spark some unique ideas - from planting in old suitcases to used purses, to paint cans; you can make your garden as personal as you are!
Thankfully, most fruits and vegetables aren't picky about their container as long as it's big enough and provides drainage for extra water. The bigger the container, the more soil there is to absorb water (so you don't have to worry about watering it as often). This also gives the plant opportunity to grow.
Even though most plants aren't picky about containers, they are picky about their dirt. Your fruits and vegetables will grow best with a potting mix made for containers since it will include lots of nutrients that the plants won't be able to get from the ground. If you're not sure what you're looking for, ask a local nursery for some direction.
Plant seeds according to the package directions. Because not all seeds will germinate, so plant more than you need, then thin the excess later. Set transplants at the same level they were growing in their pot (except for tomatoes, which you can strip off their lower leaves and plant them deeper in the container).
After planting, water gently but thoroughly to settle the seeds or transplants. Keep the soil in your vegetable container garden from drying out as fast by mulching with straw, compost, leaf mold, or a similar material.
Caring for your plants
Watering is the most important thing to watch for in your vegetable container garden. So inspect your vegetables regularly to make sure the potting mix hasn't dried out. About a month after planting, feed your vegetables about once a week with a water-soluble fertilizer, following the package directions. Also keep an eye out for weeds and other pests. While plants in containers usually aren't as susceptible to disease as varieties grown in the ground, you'll still want to watch for problems. Remove or treat any plants that show signs of disease or insect damage.
Harvest is the most satisfying step. Pick your vegetable container gardening crops as soon as they reach a size where you will enjoy them. Most vegetables are more productive if you harvest early and often.
Whether you choose to feed your family via farm to table or container gardening, make sure you enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor!