Growing and tendering farm produce yourself at home is one of the most exciting and satisfying things in life. Home gardens help individuals to produce their individual food organically and this provides them with great peace of mind about the food they are consuming. Most of the farm produce sold at the store is not fresh and may therefore lack some nutrients. A home vegetable garden is often advocated as a way to lower domestic costs by providing fruits and vegetables at a lower cost. It is normal to ask how much does it cost to start a garden? To answer this question, the first thing is to pick what to grow and where to do it. Below are step by step procedures to get started:
Preparing The Soil
Starting a garden begins with good quality soil. The soil is one of the key things you require for gardening. Good soil is the basis of strong plants and healthy atmosphere. The soil should be rich in humus, decaying materials like leaves and compost manure to enable it hold moisture and have good drainage. When you use good soil, you are assured of healthy and nutritious produce every season.
The soil ought to be tilled as deep as possible. This should be done when the soil is moist and not wet to avoid making it rough. The right time to till the soil is during winter since winter temperatures help to soften the soil. It’s advisable to add organic matter each year during soil preparation to build and maintain the soil. After tilling the soil, it is advisable to rake it clean and leave it. Raking removes sticks rocks and other hard materials from the surface.
It is good now to note that you need to know if the soil you are intending to use is healthy. This can be done by testing the Nitrogen, Potassium and the PH level of the soil. Cooperative Extension services offer these services. It’s advisable to do testing and perform any addition to the soil in case there is a shortfall of minerals is during spring season since at this time the soil is most stable.
Soil improvement helps in loosening tight clay, help sand hold more water, makes soil easier to dig and add nutrients to the soil. This can be done by use of manures and fertilizers. Fertilizers are applied to crops to improve their productivity to increase crop yields.
Fertilizer Options for a Vegetable Garden and Their Cost
You can determine which fertilizer is suitable for your vegetable garden when you perform a soil test. It is vital to consider the NPK ratio of the fertilizer among other factors. Vegetable gardens need many nutrients to grow healthy and provide you with healthy and delicious vegetables. That is the reason why it is advisable to use fertilizers that are specifically meant for vegetable gardens. Generally, the two basic types of fertilizers to choose from are organic and inorganic fertilizers.
- Inorganic fertilizers – They have artificial ingredients and some have nutrients that the plants use right away. Other synthetic fertilizers are created to release the nutrients gradually over an extended period. Some have nutrients that the pants can use right away as well as nutrients the plants can absorb gradually. As you search for organic fertilizers, consider the NPK, which is the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in them. Many plants do well with a balanced ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. However, some plants such as leafy greens require nitrogen only while others require more potassium. The average cost of inorganic fertilizers is 25 to 80 dollars per 8,000 square foot yard when professionally applied.
- Organic fertilizers – They comprise of various plant-derived materials, ranging from dry or fresh plant material to animal manures and agricultural by-products. The nutrient content of these fertilizers varies based on source materials. Readily biodegradable materials are better sources of nutrients. Organic fertilizers usually have lower concentration of nitrogen and phosphorous compared to inorganic fertilizers. The other factor, which dilutes or decreases the nitrogen content of phosphorous and nitrogen in organic fertilizers in moisture content. Therefore, it may not be cost effective to transport these fertilizers over long distances. The average cost of organic fertilizers is 50 to 85 dollars per 8,000 square foot yard when applied by a professional.
Tools Used in Soil Preparation
- Shovel – Used to level and widen the plants beds by pulling the soil up into beds
- Spade – Used to turn the tilled soil in order to loosen it allowing plants root go deeper
- Rake – Used to clean the soil by removing rocks and sticks
- Hoe – Used for tilling the soil
- Gloves– are protective items used during land tilling and other farm activities
Cost of These Tools
Shovel – Its cost ranges from $5.00-$35.00 per piece depending on the model
Spade – Its cost ranges from $10-$10.00 per piece depending on the model
Rake – Its cost ranges from $7.00-$30.00 per piece
Hoe- Its cost ranges from $14.00-$35.00 per piece
Gloves- Its cost ranges from $1.00-$10.00 per dozen
Plants / Seeds
Planting seeds doesn’t simply mean sticking them into the ground. Seeds have to go through several steps in preparation for planting to be assured of proper germination and thriving plant growth.
If the seeds to be planted are in their pods, make sure you remove them from the pods. After removing them from the pod, fill a container with cold water and soak the seeds in the water. Since any seed with wet membrane feels greasy to the touch, rub the shell of the seed with your hands to remove the membrane and finally remove the seeds from water and place them on a clean surface.
Take a jar and put a sand paper inside with the rough side facing up, insert the seeds inside the jar and shake the jar vigorously holding the rid. This will scarify the seeds making them scratch the outer seed coat making their germination easier and possible. After scaring the seed soak them into a jar of cold water for duration of 2 hours to make the seeds absorb moisture. After this step, the seed are ready for planting.
It’s worth noting that if what you are planting is in form of suckers and not seeds you need to do the following;
- Place the plant sucker in a container with plenty of fertile soil
- Add water to the container
- Stick the sucker plant in the soil
- Do the watering daily until you see new growth forming
- Give it enough time before you transplant them into a garden.
When doing vegetable gardening on a budget, you need to consider the cost of seeds and plants. The costs of the plants and seedlings depend on the type of seedling or plants. For example, the cost of kales suckers will go for as low as $0.02 and up to $0.05. When it come to the cost of seedlings it will depend with the type. For example, if it is the tomato seedlings, a sachet will go for $1.5 and that of mangoes can go for at least $5.
The factors you need to consider when buying any type of seedling or plants is the climatic condition, range of rainfall and annual temperatures of where you want to set up your garden. This information one can get from the nearest weather stations.
Plant protection is the practice of supervision of weather, weeds, pests and plant diseases, animals and other harmful factors that slow down the growth of vegetables or agricultural products. It is mainly done to increase the plant production and quality of the plant. The correct plant protection approach is significant as it enables farmers to boost productivity and reduce losses. Some plant protection methods include:
Use of Animal Psychology
This involves playing with psychology of the animals or pests that interfere with the plant’s welfare. The old traditional method used was by use of scare crows.
This method involves use of other living organisms to control insect’s weeds and diseases. For example, a lady bird can control aphids in the farm since the latter is the most destructive pests to any plants.
Using cages is one of the great ways of ensuring plant safety mainly from pest’s attack and hungry animals, birds and also helps when ones’ plants need support. Cages solves several issues because they require less space. The size of the cage to choose, its appearance and features depends on your preferences. Caging can be done by use of nets or even wire mesh. The importance of caging is that it allows the plant to grow in its most natural fashion. Also, a cage holds plants from the ground and they are less prone to rot or insect damage which if detected is easy to manage. A cage also helps in less handling of the plant, spreading of diseases from plant to plant, seldom occurs. It also allows good air circulation which often leads to more abundant harvests. Some considerations when using a cage are the size of the plant when fully grown, and accessibility of the plant.
Plant covering is mainly applied to plants that can easily get ruined. You can use a covering that may be due to different reasons which may include, shielding the plant from frost-this is brought about by low temperatures which cause the water in the plant cell to freeze. This in turn causes the plant to be blackened and distorted. By covering plants material used such as sheets or blankets act as insulation whereby they keep warmth from the ground around the plant. During the heavy rainy season followed by winds, it can potentially ruin the plants. Thus, using waterproof covering such as tarpaulin to cover young and fragile plants is vital. It is also essential to use a cover to protect tiny seedlings until they are grown-up for permanent or semi-permanent planting. A cover also provides a conducive growth condition that is germination also an easy weed control measure for seedlings. It improves crop uniformity and leads to higher yields as well as efficient use of land.
This involves creating an obstruction between the plants and the pests, weather, and diseases. Examples of items you can use as barriers are bird netting and garden fleece.
Fencing is a strategic method of protecting plants mainly from unwanted threatening agents like stray wild animals or intruders. They are made of different materials depending on the location and what the plant is being protected from. Protects plants from pest such as rabbits, isolate unhealthy animals, and waterways are also protected. Fencing allows you to divide your farm into sections where different plants with different specifications can be taken care of. This provides easy identification and allows a clear flow of the strategy used in place. Fencing mainly demarcates the restrictions set even from children. It provides a protection measure in cases of pesticides and other harmful effects that may affect them.
The cost of plant protection depends entirely on the method of protection used. Some are not costly while others can end up being too costly. For example, when one settles to use the fencing method, materials like post, wire mesh, and human labor has to be put into consideration which might total to $2500. Unlike the psychological method whereby one need old materials and some little experience to create a scarecrow.
The composition of water is hydrogen and oxygen hence it is the source of life on earth. In plants water helps in transporting minerals to all the right places, provides major support to the plant, and cools down the plants. When plants get well watered their cells become stiff making the plant stand upright, but when the plant lack water its cells get deflated making the plant wither.
You need to consider which is the right amount of water the plant can take to avoid over/under watering this is because every plant is different. Watering plants take turns example when watering in mild weather conditions where temperatures rise and fall drastically, adjusting according to the size of the plant. Larger plants need more water compared to the smaller plants. Water is poured to the soil, not the plant leaves directly this is to avoid scorched spots and diseases. Plants can be watered through different tools and methods depending on the quantity of the plants. Some of the watering tools you can use include:
- Watering Can– You can minimize trip to the faucet by using a watering can that hold up to three gallons of water.
- Lightweight Hose– A heavy hose can make it harder for you to irrigate your plants. Choose a lightweight hose that makes it easier for you to maneuver around the garden.
- In-Ground Vessel– You can partially bury this vessel in the ground so that water seeps into the roots of a plant slowly. You only need to fill the in-ground vessel once a week.
- Programmable Timer– To use this device, you just have to attach it to a spigot, program the water cycles, and hook up the hose. A programmable timer has an EcoFuncuntion feature which promotes deep soaking and reduces run off, and a rain-delay feature that suspends the programs for up to six days.
- Slow Drip Irrigation– A drip irrigation system is excellent for it delivers water directly to plant’ roots, preventing runoff and evaporation.
NOTE: Some of The Measures to Put in Place While Watering Your Plants Include:
- Always water your plants after re-potting
- Note that plants in big containers tend to dry up slowly compared to plants in small containers; therefore, adjust water quantities accordingly.
- Plants in bright daylight dry fast compared to plants in low light
- Moist air keeps soil humid for longer than dry air.
- Make sure you water your plants after the previous watering has slightly dried out before watering again.
- Water less often but thoroughly to avoid root rot in plants that is caused by too much watering.
- Watering should be late in the evening or late in the evening to ensure that less water evaporates than as on during the day; making the plants supply themselves with water before the next day’s heat.
- During watering, try to avoid splashing water into the leaves since wet leaves become diseased leaves. Leaf mold diseases are caused by leaving the plants leaves wet overnight.
- Make sure the water reaches the roots since every plant absorbs the water through its roots.
- Give large water quantities in parts to allow the soil to seep the water.
- Make sure you save water by watering as much as necessary and as little as possible.
- Always avoid water logging which causes suppression in the breathing air of the roots out of the soil by making the root cells drown with oxygen.
- Use quality soil. Use soil with the best drainage to prevent water clogging.
Water with aim but allocate the water around the plant and distribute it in the entire area. When you water at one root point, it leads to one side root growth causing reduced nutrients incorporation in the soil.
In mild weather, do watering less frequently. Plants need more water when the temperatures are high. This is because warm weather causes evaporation of moisture before the plant can absorb it.
Dumping water on the plants leaves causes fungal diseases and scorched spots on leaves. Water should be poured into the soil.
It is worth noting that different plants or seeds need different amounts of water. There are those plants that require less water example being succulent since they like to stay dry hence requires less water such type of plants will require watering after every few weeks.
The size of a plant also determines how often you are to water your plants. Plants in big containers tend to dry up slowly compared to plants in small containers meaning one will need more water more frequently than the other. Some tips when it comes to the size of any plant are;
- For large plants water the plant and let it soak in.
- Repeat until the soil is drenched
- Don’t water again until it dries completely
It is advisable to have a watering schedule to avoid too much watering or limited watering. When plants are flooded with too much water, it can cause root rot meaning the plants have been overwatering whereas when the plant’s soil often dry it is under-watering. Therefore, letting the soil dry out before watering is the solution for the plants to get the ideal balance of water and oxygen.
It is good to know that during summer, that is when the sun is more intense, plants need to be watered more regularly. There are plants that prefer warm water over cold water since warm water absorbs into the soil well. When watering such plants, try not to spray water onto the leaves.
Summary of The Costs
The costs of setting a garden will mainly depend on its size, the kind of plants you grow, the fertilizers you use and tools. If you establish an 8 foot by 4-foot garden, you can expect to incur the following costs on a yearly basis:
Cost of fertilizer – $52
Cost of seeds and plants – $37
Cost of watering – $100
Growing your own food is worth the time and effort dues the benefits that come with it whether one is growing a single tomato or bunch of vegetables and fruits. If you have been wondering how much does it cost to start a garden, we hope this article has been of help. Generally, the total cost of starting a garden varies based on the type of plants grown, the number of plants you buy and the length of the growing season in your area. To calculate the total cost of starting a garden and maintaining it throughout the year, add together the cost of the seeds or plants, the cost of fertilizer, the cost of protecting the plants, the cost of watering them, and the cost of tools.