Home Grown Fruit and Veg A Bust? Where You Might Be Going WrongFriday, July 01, 2016
Growing your own produce is extremely rewarding, not only does being outside guarantee plenty of Vitamin D exposure but you also get to eat and enjoy the result. With modern conveniences of round the clock shopping and easy access to foods from across the world, growing your own is something most of us have become unfamiliar with. Nevertheless, this is one old past-time that could do with a revival. If you have no experience in this area there's no doubt that it can be a daunting process, no one wants to invest time and energy into something that, ultimately doesn't work. There's nothing more disheartening than trying to grow crops and having them fail. If you've experienced that disappointment, there's likely some issue with your system that you need to fix. Here're a few of the most common errors, and what to do about them.
You Plant Out Too Soon
If you're growing from seed, one of the worst things you can do is plant out too early. A late frost can damage seeds beyond repair. Even if they manage to survive, they will never thrive in the same way as they would have without the right protection. Always plant as late in the season as possible, when you are sure that the weather is going to help you out. Try and foster a proper nursery for fruit plants, which is protected from the elements and predators. Don't just think about aphids and spider mites; plenty of squirrels will have a nibble at a young plant.
You Plant Things Too Close Together
Crooked carrots and unripe berries are one of the risks of not properly spacing plants. It can be tempting to fall into this trap if you don't have much space to work with, but it's one you must resist. Best to have a smaller crop that is edible than a large one that fails, right? Planting too close together drains the soil of its nutrients and makes plants compete for food. Try and separate everything by around 18cm; more for bigger plants
Your Soil Lacks Nutrients
Soil quality can vary even within the same garden, so it's essential to make sure you have a good habitat for growing. Always mix ground soil in with some conditioner, be it compost, manure or 'fish, blood and bone' fertiliser. Planting directly into heavy soil will cause problems, so turn thoroughly and try to flush out as many weeds as possible. For a nutrient boost standard Epsom Salts make an ideal plant food, you don't need to spend a fortune on specialist products. Dilute the salts in warm water and then use once a week for a vital magnesium boost.
Your Plants Are Being Eaten Alive
Pests are a nightmare to control, but they are a fact of the gardener's life. They will suck life from plants and can kill them altogether. You don't need to use pesticides if you don't want to, however. Inexpensive neem oil mixed with a biodegradable soap can keep the worst of them at bay.
Have you grown any of your own food this year?