Backyard gardening or home gardening (often used interchangeably) is a large part of a bigger picture: urban agriculture.
As the name suggests, backyard gardening revolves around creating a garden in your very own backyard. It includes growing vegetables, fruits, and flowers in a small-scale setting.
It makes a portion of your home productive and caters to various purposes. From merely building and working on your hobby to providing food for yourself and your loved ones, a backyard garden can have several implications.
These gardens have multiple purposes. Owning a small garden where you cultivate your greens for your consumption allows you to become self-sufficient.
Any surplus can be sold to people to make a profit. These gardens are also great for recreation and may become your weekend leisure activity. Not to mention, it will make your backyard look fantastic!
Backyard gardening or home gardening (often used interchangeably) is a large part of a bigger picture: urban agriculture. Urban agriculture, commonly abbreviated as UA, cultivates and produces food in urban areas.
UA advocates turning your small pieces of land into functional systems, which will provide us with a food supply. The global population has been rising exponentially. As a result, the shortage of resources is becoming a more bleak reality with each day.
In such times, UA becomes a critical avenue for mass food production. UA is also a cost-effective way for the less privileged people to grow their food.
These gardens have also served as modes of recreation. Working in a garden and the process of maintaining one’s garden have been proven to relieve stress and help people escape from their sedentary lives.
The process can also be a way to spend your quality time with loved ones! And who doesn’t like having a good morning’s tea or coffee while sitting around some lush greens in their yard?
Another important aspect of gardening at home is you have total control over what you put on your plate if you are growing edibles. Commercially grown vegetables and fruits are often laced with chemical-based fertilizers and insecticides.
This diminishes the nutritional value of these products to a remarkable extent. When you cultivate your own greens, you decide what kind of fertilizers and insecticides you want to use.
This way, you can minimize the effect of the chemicals. The contributions of homegrown products to food security are a great benefit of home gardening as well. If you choose to go organic with your yard, you know you are maximizing the nutritional quotient of your veggies and fruits!
On an individual level, the process of planting, growing, and harvesting can be a wonderful way to exercise. It has been proven that home gardening improves the general health of adults of all ages.
In addition to that, by maintaining a home garden, you improve the overall health of the people around you.
Now that we have discussed what backyard gardens are and why they are a necessary form of agriculture, let’s discuss how one should start their backyard garden.
When starting a small home-based garden, there are a few this one needs to consider:
1. Do your Geography Homework!
Yes, you read that right. As a primary step, you need to figure out where you live and the type of climate. The weather becomes an essential factor for the growth of the plants.
Whether you get sunlight in the day or live in a region where it’s mostly cloudy, you have to do your research. Also, you must make sure that you place the garden in your home in a good spot; for instance, a good place to plant is in an area with adequate sunlight throughout the day.
2. What Kind of Soil?
Soil is the first and foremost biofactor that you need to grow your plants. Good quality soil provides good produce. One must figure out what kind of soil they are working with.
Clay soaks up a lot of water, while sandy soil is known to drain water very quickly. Ideally, a mixture of both is considered conducive for home gardening.
If you are unsure of what type of soil you have, take your sample and get it tested at the nearest soil testing laboratory. It can give you a lot of information about your soil’s pH, organic matter, and nitrogen levels.
3. Think About What You Want to Grow
Now that you’ve studied your environment, the climate, and the kind of soil you’re dealing with, you can decide which greens you want to grow.
Several plants will survive well in many conditions. You can make your choice, be it veggies, fruits, or some visually appealing flowers.
4. Have a Blueprint
A big part of starting your home gardening is how you plan your garden. You can have well-built garden beds, or you can make the plants thrive in their pots.
It is also preferable to practice gardening on a flat, plain piece of land. Gardening can also be done on slopes but requires much more meticulous planning and work.
You have to build bunds to irrigate such slope gardens. Hence, it is great to have an optimized space plan for your garden.
5. Avenues of Irrigation
Plants need a sufficient and stable water supply to keep thriving and be healthy. Fortunately, home gardening allows several methods of irrigation.
From the conventional watering can to a modernized drip irrigation system, everything is easily available and are viable options for gardens.
Once you’ve thought of the ‘hows,’ another lingering question arises.
6. When Should One Start Gardening?
First and foremost, creating a garden does not start with planting. It begins with gaining knowledge about the process and then making adjustments to your land and your soil, which takes time.
Also, different plants have different requirements as they grow in other conditions. If you plan to start in the winter, choose plants that can survive low temperatures and require less sunlight. Then you can have another set of plants to grow in spring.
If you rotate your crops during the seasons, you have the added benefit of keeping your soil healthy and nutritious, which will prove to be an excellent medium for plants’ growth in the future.
In developing countries like India, where a portion of the population is stricken by poverty and faces the frightening prospect of hunger problems, home gardening or backyard gardening has proven to be a sustainable food source.
Countries around the world have encouraged people to indulge in home gardening as it also makes one self-sufficient. Governments have also supported urban agriculture due to the rapidly growing population.
UA provides 15 to 20 percent of the global food supply. Hence, it is being seen as a possible answer to the issues of the global food supply. Also, this could be your little service to nature in a world where climate change has become a big concern.
So if you’re thinking of starting your own backyard garden, you now know what you must consider.