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The First 5 Steps to Starting a Market Garden

Here at Nature Cycle Market Garden we believe that to pass down the knowledge we learn through individual experience is one of the main reasons we have the cognitive functions to collect, store and share information. Planning and confidence building will be the platform you utilize to back yourself as you venture into the unknown, this is where you feed the fire in your belly and let the passion for sustainable growing erupt!

 

The first 5 steps I took were:

  1. Make it clear to yourself why you are growing produce
  2. Keep close to your passions
  3. Do your research
  4. Take notes
  5. Don't take everything literally

1) Make it clear to yourself why you are growing produce.

During the initial justification phase this will come in hand on the ‘doubting days’. These are the days where someone puts your idea in a negative light or you are feeling like the task is too far fetched and insurmountable. Growing food does not need to be a philosophical quandary; it is merely as space with food/habitat/ecology growing in it and space without. There is no right or wrong reason to grow food at home, be it for ethical reasons, community building, personal sustainability, gaining life skills, to reacquaint with full flavors or to loosen the restraints of modern society. So don't be limited by others views, educate yourself and justify your own decisions.

2) Keep close to your passions

If you are passionate about growing the hottest chili or the tastiest tomato, than follow that path first. I found researching my passions, reading about passionate people in the industry and meeting like-minded people really drove the initial momentum. This is important for fueling the 'desire fire', maintaining the drive every day to wake up and get through the numerous tasks needed to begin the dream. Trying to grow everything at once is quite a task and one of the most disheartening paths to follow as a new grower due to the failing of many crops. By segmenting the task into favorable crops and numbering the amount of crop varieties per season, you will able to focus on growing what you enjoy and have the time to understand what it takes to produce it at a level of high quality. This will ultimately lead to higher yields, less waste, a more efficient approach and you will be happier with your budding system! It will give you an understanding of the growing conditions needed plant by plant, raising your confidence as you move back into the territory of limited understanding learning a new crops parameters. The beginning can become quite intimidating with the surplus of information available for someone just wanting to grow a decent meal.

 

3) Do your research

Knowledge is power and you can never do enough relevant research. Information comes in many forms in the modern day and there is a plethora of it. The best sources of information are from people who are mastering the field that you are passionate about. People at the top of their game are generally passionate about what they do and have found a way to make it work. Researching may not be an issue for you, it may actually be the opposite. In which case undertake as much industry specific research as you deem possible, consistently collating applicable information before feeling you have enough confidence to dip your toes in the water. When it comes to bringing a business to life it is important to build that base of knowledge as it will be what you draw from during unexpected times. Take it at your own pace as finishing first in this race doesn't guarantee a podium finish.

4) Take notes

Anything you find particularly helpful or succinctly describes methods you want to use should be noted somewhere to be easily reviewed. This can be from a sticky note on a book page to writing entire spreadsheets on specific crops or growing methods (this is what I do, beware though can become addictive). An easy way to start crop note taking is through spreadsheets, running main research headings along the horizontal and crops along the vertical. This isn't the be all and end all crop document, this is the beta version. You will have to consistently update your spreads as you gauge your onsite micro-climate, gain experience growing and understand your onsite parameters (ph, temp etc). As your site specific database increases this document will metamorphose into your very own farmers almanac. Updating the crop spreads is vitally important to ensuring you are meeting the needs of your crops based on the parameters of your site. As for Market Gardening methods  you prefer, buy the books of the growers you admire and have a physical copy on hand. It is there whenever you need to call upon it. If someone has taken the time to inspire and teach you, the least you can do is pay them for the service!

5) Don’t take everything literally

In the world of gardening there is a specific right or wrong way and ultimately this is because there are many justifications for gardening. From picnicking on lawns to creating eco habitats for wildlife, most gardeners are either doing what they think is right or doing what other people think is right. If the information at hand is based on experience then most likely it will be full of valuable insights and personal experiences, don’t discriminate because they are growing for different reasons, this is merely our platform to explain our various methodologies and techniques.

 

To learn more more about Market Gardening and projects to get your Market Garden up and running be sure to check out;

  1. 7 Steps to Market Garden Design Success
  2. DIY Bokashi Bucket
  3. Building an Upcycled Compost Pit
  4. Composting in the Market Garden
  5. DIY Bug Hotel