Growing your own plants can be the most rewarding experience. Not only does it give you 100% faith where your food has come from, but it also allows you to reduce your exposure to pesticides, which are a leading cause of allergies, environmental illness, and chemical sensitivities.
The benefits of gardening
Gardening is considered a semi-intensive exercise, promoting good health and fitness. It’s also been proven gardeners tend to have better diets, consuming higher levels of fruit and veg.
The benefits don’t end there. Cultivating your own plants also improves mental health and is a good remedy for reducing stress. Watching your crop come to fruition (quite literally) can be a very therapeutic process.
However, before starting down the crop cultivation path and growing your own, there are a few important things to consider to maximize your chances of success.
Start out with low-maintenance plants
First up, you need to carefully consider the plants you’re going to grow as some are considerably easier than others. If you’re just starting out, it’s probably best to go with crops that need the least care and attention – relatively low-maintenance plants like salad leaves, radishes, potatoes, peas, onions/spring onions, beans, tomatoes, and beetroot.
Of course, the plants you choose may be dictated by the space you have available, and it’s important to remember some plants are better suited to growing outside, while others thrive indoors. You should choose accordingly, depending on the set-up you have.
Understand what the vital elements are
Next, you need to consider the elements that are key to growth and affect all plants – namely nutrients, soil, light, and temperature. While these work in harmony with one another, they each bring essential components to the mix required for healthy plant growth.
• Nutrients: Typically, soil provides 14 of the 17 nutrients required for a plant to grow. The other three are taken from air and water (hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon). The correct nutrients are integral to a plant’s healthy development – whether these come direct from soil or hydroponically (a process that uses a nutrient-rich solution to feed the plant instead of traditional soil).
• Water: While the human body is approximately 70% water, plants are somewhere closer to 90%. Without an adequate source of fresh water, a plant will simply stress and die. As water is so essential to plant growth, you may want to consider installing water pipes with air valves to ensure the regular, uninterrupted flow of liquid while also ensuring the integrity of your hydration system.
• Light: Light levels change throughout the year, and the dependence on it varies from plant to plant. Nonetheless, all plants require light to some degree for the process of photosynthesis, and so it’s important to research how much your intended crop needs.
• Temperature: Changes in temperature have a dramatic effect on the life processes of plants. Warmth speeds up respiration and photosynthesis while colder temperatures slow growth or can even make plants dormant. Again, a case of research to find the right balance.
There’s never been a better time to get started growing your plants – whether that be just for yourself, for friends and family, or even on a semi-commercial basis. There has been a meteoric rise in the demand for locally-sourced, organically-grown, fresh produce – meaning you might even be able to start a little sideline business.