The Stripped-Down Approach to Starting a Garden (with Video)

Reader Contribution by Alyssa Craft
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Producing one’s own food is a big part of what it means to become more self-sufficient and sustainable. However, starting a garden can really be intimidating for some folks. If you haven’t grown plants before, it’s easy to assume there are magic secrets and insider tips to get anything to grow at all.

Looking for facts about starting a garden online can be a big dead end because of the overwhelming amount of information out there. Self-proclaimed “expert gurus” delve so deeply into obscure techniques that the beginner is lost in the middle. They can become overwhelmed with information and tragically give up their dreams of having a garden before they even try.

We find it upsetting that people are giving up their gardens without even starting. We wrote this post because we hope to dispel some of the myths that surround starting a garden. We think it’s a lot more simple than people make it. Our techniques should give you some confidence to get over being afraid and start putting your own seeds in the ground.

Obviously we aren’t garden experts, but we use a strategy that has really worked for us in the past. So, what’s that secret technique? Here it is! We prepare some soil, plunk seeds down into it, and then add water. Eventually, things (or most things) begin to grow! Honestly, it’s just that simple.

Community Garden Experience

Before we left the city and moved to our property in Idaho we had been members of a community garden. Some of those seeds made the move with us so we figured they would be a fine start to our off grid garden. A few months ago we gathered straw and pine needles to make a mulch that was layer over the garden bed. As this mixture breaks down, it will amend the soil and add to its fertility. We left most of it on top of the beds and pulled it back where we were planting seeds.

We sowed our seeds a quarter-inch down and spaced hand-width apart. We personally like to plant multiple seeds at each spacing to ensure that at least one seed will germinate, but some people don’t like to do this, because it means extra work later to thin out the excess plants.

As we said earlier, we aren’t gardening experts. There is so much about growing vegetables that we don’t know, that we honestly may never know. But, why should that stop us from starting a garden? Growing food is a skill that you improve as you try new things. No one is an expert when they first start out.

Go In with a Positive Outlook

Finally, remember to have the right mentality about your garden. Even if it’s a complete failure and absolutely nothing grows, there is a really good chance that the grocery stores will still have food. Even living off-grid hasn’t limited our food options that much. Gardening isn’t the only technique we rely on for food, and so experimentation is just fine for us.

Hopefully this post encourages you to try something new in your life, whether it’s an off-grid garden like us or some other hobby. Now go have fun and experiment away!

Here is a video we made on starting our garden — we hope you enjoy it!

Alyssa Craft moved to Idaho after purchasing 5 acres of land where she will build an off grid homestead from scratch. She is blogging about the journey from start to finish in hopes of inspiring others that wish to take a similar path. Follow her many DIY projects including building with reclaimed materials, building an off-grid hot tub, milling lumber with an Alaskan chainsaw mill and starting an organic garden. Keep up on the journey by following her blog Pure Living for Life, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channel. View Alyssa’s other MOTHER EARTH NEWS articles here!

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