Everyone is working towards mitigating their carbon footprint nowadays – and it’s easier to do it now than ever before. A popular practice for some is to grow produce in your backyard. Not only does this save you money when grocery shopping, but it also encourages a healthy diet and way of life – not to mention delicious, fresh produce.
Before you can attempt something like this though, you’ll want to inquire about contaminated soil testing services to ensure that the produce you grow is as healthy as it can be. Whilst that’s happening, though, you can take in these five steps we’ve put together for growing produce to help get you started.
1. Preparing your soil
As we mentioned, it’s absolutely worth looking into contaminated soil testing services to give your produce the best chance possible to produce healthy and nutritious products. Once a test has been done though, you’ll need to prepare your soil to receive the seeds.
Mix organic compost into your soil to start with. The easiest way to do this is to use food scraps from your home – as opposed to purchasing compost. The compost should be mixed into the soil with water at least a couple of weeks before planting any seeds.
Well-rotted manure from small animals, like chickens, will also contribute to prepping the soil for your seeds. Remember, this is all to improve the nutrients that your produce will have in them.
2. Selecting what to plant
The easiest way to pick what you should plant first is to go seasonally. This guarantees that you’re giving them the best possible chance to thrive. For example, this summer you’ll want to concentrate on planting things like:
- Beetroot; and
- Zucchini – just to name a few.
You can explore the full list of what to grow seasonally here.
3. Planting your seeds
Once you know what you want to plant and your compost and soil have had time to blend together – you can move onto the planting phase. The majority of vegetables are available in seed form – making them easy to plant. Each vegetable is unique but the majority of vegetable seeds need to be planted around 15 – 20 cm below the surface. Some veggies that require deeper roots should be placed further down – around 30 cm.
Be sure to follow the instructions that come with the packet of seeds or seedlings to get the most out of it and also so you can appropriately space them – the last thing you want is your produce to overlap and have issues. Make sure there’s a sufficient amount of mulch laid around the seeds and that the area is kept cool in warmer seasons and vice versa for cooler seasons.
4. Watering and caring
Fresh seeds and seedlings will need to be watered as soon as they’re planted – and regularly afterwards. Once they begin to develop you must water the base of the plant – not the leaves. This is so the water can get to the root of the plant which is where it needs to go.
Evaporation is your biggest foe during warmer seasons so it’s smartest to water in the morning before the heat kicks in and the full force of the sun is felt. Otherwise, the water you’ve expended will evaporate and it will all have been for naught.
There’s a fine line between watering too much and too little, though. Try to aim for a thorough watering routine two-three times a week as opposed to a quick, shallow daily watering.
The final phase is the most exciting part. When your produce has come fully developed, then it’s time to harvest it. You’ll be able to tell if a vegetable is ready to be harvested by its colour and size. If you’re not 100% certain, then have a taste of it. You’ll be able to quickly determine whether or not it’s ready from that. A good tip is to only harvest what you need and leave the rest. That way you’ll have a good surplus of fresh produce.
Looking for contaminated soil testing services in Melbourne?
Alpha Environmental is a boutique environmental agency that can provide testing services to determine whether or not your soil is contaminated or not. That way you can continue to grow your own nutrient-rich produce at home.
We’re also able to offer other services in addition to contaminated soil testing such as asbestos and groundwater testing. Our environmental consultants are able to offer expert advice and knowledge to help you with whatever you require.
If you’re in need of contaminated soil testing services, then please give us a call on 1300 039 181. You may also contact us via the enquiry form found on our website.