Growing a Food Garden in the City Planting Part 2

About the proper preparation needed to plant your own food garden in particular the guide to proper planting.

PLANTING

Now, for those who stayed indoors: It's time to think about your plants' final homes. Choose large enough pots to accommodate mature plants. No matter what sort of container you use, drainage is crucial. For most containers the easiest way to assure drainage is to cover the bottom with a layer of gravel. Then add your potting soil-sand-peat-compost mixture. It is good practice to plant more seedlings in a pot than it will ultimately be able to hold and then snip off the weakest ones.

Back to cold-frame people. As soon as the ground in your yard is well thawed, dig some compost into the soil and then add some earthworms to dig air tunnels and break down minerals. Let it all sit a week before you plant your seedlings. When you plant, make sure you leave adequate space between plants as indicated on the seed package. Weed the garden every few days. As plants get bigger they will become less vulnerable to weeds. When the plants get about a foot high, you can "mulch"--that is, cover the ground around the plants with a 2" to 3" layer of organic matter which will conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Good materials for mulch are hay, grass, or hosed-off seaweed. Each of these materials adds nutrients to the soil, and each breaks down at a different speed. Grass clippings will need to be replaced more frequently than hay. Once you have mulched your garden, weeding will no longer be necessary.

If you think insects will be a problem, and they almost always are, take some simple precautionary measures. Plant garlic and chives throughout your garden. Plant a marigold hedge. Some gardeners claim these plants fend off insects. You can also order praying mantis or ladybugs for specific infestations. These beneficial insects will gobble up the undesirables.

If something went wrong and your seedlings didn't make it through transplanting, you can buy seedlings at a nursery and still have enough time left to harvest in the fall. Certain plants are more temperamental than others and their seedlings are more likely to fail, but it's fun to try everything, with one exception. If you wish to plant fruit trees (and minature ones can even be grown in a pot inside and yield plenty of fruit), start with a young tree. Fruit seeds may produce an attractive plant, but seldom will such plants bear good fruit.

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