Commercial produce is often grown in depleted soil and protected with pesticides. Get back to basics by growing your own vegetables in soil you can control.
Step 1: Research and choose location Read up on the plants you want to grow, especially how much room and sun they need, and what sorts of rows they should be planted in. Plants will need at least six hours of sun a day. Pick vegetables that grow well where you live. Then mark off an area in your backyard for your garden and buy your seeds.
TIP: Start the seeds indoors in the spring, but educate yourself about lighting, watering, and start dates to succeed.
Step 2: Dig garden Dig out the lawn, shaking off the good dark earth from under each section you rip out. Make a mulch pile in the corner of the yard with these to start the process of culturing your own rich soil supply.
TIP: If the lawn has been fertilized, don't grow anything for three years. These precautions are important to avoid poisoning your produce.
Step 3: Break up and test soil Break up the clods and turn over the soil exposed in the area for growing. Test the soil for nutrients through a local cooperative extension or agricultural university to determine what you'll need to put back in the soil for good plant growth.
Step 4: Build containers and plant Build raised beds or grow plants in containers that hold the good soil in and drain the plants more readily. Lay the seeds in according to package directions and give yourself paths to get to plants as they flower.
Step 5: Build fencing Surround the garden with rabbit fencing, nailing the bottom edge to a board perimeter or burying it enough that edges won't curl up and offer an entry. Put in stakes, frames, and posts to stabilize the vegetable stalks.
Step 6: Water and tend Aerate the soil, and water without soaking the seeds. Weed regularly and inspect leaves, especially the undersides, to pick off bugs and other pests that periodically invade. Get master gardener advice on safe sprays to use.
TIP: After the germination, seedling plants should only be watered when the surface soil is dry.
Step 7: Research Research, read, and experiment with your garden as it expands and you get better at tending it. Try to get others in the neighborhood to grow and exchange plants and vegetables like a truly cooperative farming community.
FACT: Once the automobile capital of the U.S., in 2009 Detroit received funding from the Department of Agriculture to expand urban farming efforts.