Grow your best home garden.

Tips on growing and preserving the harvest from your homestead garden.

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Welcome to Home Garden Journal

There are practical reasons to grow things like fruits and vegetables. Even a small garden can yield a few veggies to compliment your dinner. Heck, a sunny windowsill with room for a few pots can allow you to grow some greens for a salad, or to top your sandwich.

The best reason, though, is the pleasure they give in watching them grow, and the beauty they add to your yard. From the colorful varieties of peppers to the huge and intricate leaves of zucchini; from the gem-colored stems of rainbow chard to the exuberant vining of scarlet runner beans. The entire growing experience can bring a joy unknown to those who only shop the grocery aisles.

And the excitement and pride of eating a meal entirely grown in your own garden is not to be taken lightly - especially when you've had your children help in the garden. Exposing kids to the cycle of life and the lessons of where food actually comes from (the Earth, not the grocery store) is a powerful lesson for them as well as the whole family. Even growing a garden for one year while the kids are young will give them memories for a lifetime.

garden at Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts

An old fashioned garden, complete
with rooster, at Plymouth Plantation, MA.

Where to Get Ideas

Gardening starts with an idea - a mental image of greenery and bounty, sunshine and flowers. And places to get ideas for gardening are everywhere. Ideas can be as close as your neighbor's yard to as far away as the national botanical gardens. Not to mention all the glossy magazines, catalogs, and books that abound on the subject of gardening.

One might even say that the most common hobby is gardening (at least it's in the top 10). Even adding soil to a salvaged container (see our ideas on container gardening) and planting a 50-cent packet of carrot seeds makes you a gardener. Gardening and growing things is one of the most easily accessible activities to the majority of people. Even if you live in a high-rise apartment you can garden in a community garden plot, as well as keep a few plants in pots on the fire escape.

See our list of articles on Garden Ideas to get some inspiration for your next growing season.

Veggies & Flowers

Just because you grow a bountiful garden of vegetables doesn't mean you shouldn't give some space to flowers, too. Tall zinnia varieties can offer color not only in the garden, but for cutting for bouquets in the house. Flowers like marigolds give a bright splash of yellows, oranges, and some reds along with acting as a mild pest deterrent. And sunflowers, in all their varieties, can offer some edible seeds for people as well as birds.

flowers at the White Gull Inn in Door County

Some of the beautiful flowers in
Door County, Wisconsin.

When you're looking for ideas for a flower garden don't forget to snap some pictures of floral displays around businesses. You can find some of the most beautiful annual and perennial flower beds in touristy areas next to retail shops and B&B's. In our own part of the country Door County is known for its unusual and eclectic floral landscaping.

Start With the Soil

Having good soil cannot be overstated. But, don't despair if you have something less than ideal. Soil can always be built up and amended. It may take some time, but it's doable in just about any climate.

Building soil may be seen as a more advanced part of gardening. Fear not. Organic matter, both carbon-based and nitrogen-based, is the essential building block to healthy soil. After that you can add things to adjust the pH to the right zone (garden lime is the most common way to do this), and add various missing micronutrients like boron, zinc, or iron.

And designing a garden (or garden beds) so they are easy to water yet don't stay wet is another important factor in maintaining good soil and plant health. Raised beds can be implemented in low areas that don't drain well, and drip irrigation can be added to areas that dry out fast where water conservation is a concern.

The Beauty of Gardening

Gardening is enriching far beyond the veggies or cut flowers it can give you. The joy of planting tiny seeds, nurturing them over the growing season, and watching them grow into the beautiful diversity of life is like nothing else. To recreate Eden just plant, watch, and wait. What a way to enjoy the outdoors!

rudbeckia in a rock garden in Door County, WI

Prolific rudbeckia in a rock garden.

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