Tips to increase your food security
In our last blog, we started with a few tips about creating the best environment for quicker food production. In this issue, we’ll cover watering, air circulation needs, and growing methods that make the most of your space. We plan to follow up soon with a list of quickest growing fruits and vegetables, and recommendations on companion planting for increased yields. Stay tuned to our blog– you won’t want to miss an issue! Helping everyone to have their own food security is at the top of our list during this time of such uncertainty.
Watering for food production
Water is vital for fast plant growth. Water transports vital nutrients from the root system throughout the plant. Different plants and even different varieties of the same species can have different water requirements. When planning your garden, grouping plants with similar watering needs can save time and energy spent tending your crop.
Outdoor conditions sometimes cause root and vine diseases during rainy weather. Containers, raised beds, and prepared soil for planting in rows should have adequate drainage to avoid root rot and other diseases that can damage plants.
In the greenhouse, drip irrigation, misting systems, and even ebb and flow hydroponic benches can boost your growing efforts by bringing water to your plants on a regular schedule. You can also utilize these same systems to deliver nutrients and to control temperature and humidity.
Air Circulation for faster growth
Plants need air for proper photosynthesis. Above soil level, leaves convert carbon dioxide in the air into sugars and starches, which feed the plant. Good air circulation means a well-fed plant. Below the surface, roots gain oxygen from watering, and send nutrients to the main body of the plant.
In a greenhouse, circulation fans for proper airflow are vital to increasing growth and producing healthy plants. Properly placed fans will eliminate hot and cold spots in the greenhouse, keep humidity levels low and even, and keep gasses in the air more homogenized.
During the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is depleted in the air nearest to plant leaves. With proper air flow, new carbon dioxide is moved to each plant with regularity, ensuring continual growth.
Growing methods for increase food production
Typical planting methods are tried and true, but changing the way you grow can have a big impact on your overall production.
Vertical growing is a very easy way to make the most of your gardening space, whether you have a greenhouse, a balcony full of containers, a full garden plot, or even a corner of your sunroom to grow in.
There are many benefits to growing food vertically. In addition to increasing your valuable garden space, you’ll reduce common pests and decrease the instance of disease. Harvesting is easier (more veggies at eye level instead of on the ground!), and your plants can thrive closer together, which can significantly increase your yield.
Vining plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, pole beans, and smaller squashes and melons are wonderful choices for vertical growing. A trellis or a teepee- like supporting structure works well for these. There is even a variety of climbing spinach you can grow this way, called Malabar spinach!
Spreading vine plants like sweet potatoes, grapes, kiwis, larger melons, pumpkins, and other large squashes can be grown in containers or bags, and trained up and out over arbors. This will also help with plants prone to vine rot. You can plant herbs and veggies that prefer less sun underneath these arbor, to receive more filtered sunlight.
Peppers and most cruciferous vegetables do well in vertical garden walls, and fast-growing microgreens are extremely easy to proliferate in vertical shelves. Microgreens, indoors and out, will produce over and over in a matter of weeks with full sunlight or supplemental lights.
Hydroponic and aquaponic growing
Hydroponic and aquaponic growing methods are also excellent choices for rapid fruit and vegetable production. Nutrients are delivered directly to the roots of your growing plants, water is delivered and circulated for immediate use, and pests and disease are rare with these set-ups.
With a method called intensive planting, rather than growing in spaced rows with walkways between, the garden is divided into rectangles as wide as your reach is from each side. The plants are sown very close together. Every square inch of growing space is covered by a canopy of plants, with walking space only around the outside edges.
With foliage shading the soil, weed growth and moisture evaporation are slowed. Avoid over-crowding; ideally you want leaves of each plant to just barely touch when they reach harvest size. Be sure each plant gets sufficient sunlight, nutrients, and water. This method is effective both in raised beds and in traditional in-ground gardens.
Feeding Your Family from Garden to Table
Planning food production for your family is a big undertaking, but armed with knowledge and tools for success, growing fruits and vegetables can be a fast and fulfilling endeavor. Stay tuned to our blog series, as we aim to increase your know-how and grower confidence. Happy growing!