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Fruits of your Labor

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By : Lauren Kline    99 or more times read
Whether it's due to a healthier lifestyle choice or simply a matter of household economics, a growing number of homeowners are converting once-forgotten corners of the yard over to food production.

The amount of home-grown grub one can produce will of course depend on how much room you have available and, perhaps more importantly, how much time you have to dedicate to your patch.

Preparation is the key to getting a successful veggie plot going and time spent in the early stages will pay dividends for years to come.

Before you start, it's a good idea to have your soil tested to check for contamination. If it is not suitable to plant in then a raised bed may be your best option. Make sure that you dig deep and turn the soil, removing rocks and roots but taking care to avoid causing too much harm to those highly valued worms.

Location is important. Healthy plants will thrive if given the right conditions. Try to make sure that you create a south-facing plot, where the sun can fall directly onto the plants for at least five hours a day. Avoid areas with nearby trees which may cast shadows and can also cause problems due to root growth. Choose a site that gets little wind exposure.

Don't forget to make your own compost. This environmentally-friendly way of conditioning your soil is both free and highly rewarding. If you keep a compost bin in the kitchen to gather organic waste, make sure that you use a charcoal filter to eliminate nasty odors. Prevent hungry pests from getting into the compost in your garden by fitting a secure lid to your composting bin.

When choosing what plants to grow, try to think ahead and plan for the coming months. Some vegetables are fast growers and will yield fruit relatively quickly while others take their time. Make space for some hardy, late producing plants to extend your garden's season and remember to bear in mind just how much you will be able to eat - nobody wants a ton of cabbage with every meal.

If you wish to turn over more of your yard to self-sufficiency, why not think about having a few chickens? Not only do these entertaining birds provide fresh eggs but their nitrogen rich droppings make excellent fertilizer for the rest of your garden. A bit of time and effort is required in the keeping of hens but once established, a small number of chickens will reward you with eggs on a daily basis, help out with the removal of garden weeds and provide the family with new pets to pander!

If space is at a premium it may be worth considering a container garden. This increasingly popular way of growing smaller food-bearing plants can be done almost anywhere, and is a fun way to introduce the family to the value of home-produced fruit and vegetables. One could even mix edible plants in with a few ornamental flowers for more aesthetic appeal.

Smaller containers can be used for herbs or green onions while several varieties of tomato and even strawberries will thrive in buckets and hanging baskets. Find a nice sunny spot for your container on a balcony, windowsill or deck and with regular watering plus some tender loving care you will soon be enjoying the fruits of your labor, quite literally.
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