Starting Your Own Xela Garden
By Juan Jardinero
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
-Frances Hodgson Burnett
This month we sat down with Gaby from #TanLechugaYo, a weekly organic salad delivery service in Xela, to discuss how to start her own organic garden in her house. Finding a great business opportunity selling salads has also brought our friend Gaby to question our current food system and how to actively participate in retaking control of what we eat and how it is produced.
Though she has found weekly organic suppliers for her salads there is no easier way to take control of our food then participating in its production? So she has contacted us and came up with a few basic questions that most first time home gardeners would have when starting their own edible garden.
How much space do I need?
The first question should be, how much space is available? This will determine what and how much you can grow. Once you have determined the space, designing your garden will be the first task. Take into account sunlight, access to water and where you are going to plant. You can use anything that holds soil, from planting in the dirt, to using tires, pots, wooden crates, etc.
What plants should I start with?
Identify what plants are locally available, those plants have evolved to thrive in your local environment and will make your job easier. But in terms of variety of plants, we recommend starting with herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary, and mint, these are generally easier to maintain and are regularly used in the kitchen. Another great plant to start with is tomatoes. Though under certain rainy and cold conditions they become susceptible to disease, they are still a great plant to learn from and eating your own tomatoes can be very gratifying.
What things do I have to take into account when starting my garden?
Make sure you account for time, how much time you will dedicate to your garden and how frequently. Research which are the growing seasons for each specific plant you want to grow, though we are blessed to live in Guatemala where most veggies grow year around there are certain times where specific plants grow better in size and flavor.
What daily and weekly tasks should I plan for?
You will need to water. If you direct seeded you will probably water every day till the seeds have sprouted. When the seedling is growing water it 2 or 3 times a week. Water will however depend on many things, the amount of sunlight it receives, the type of soil you are using and how much water intake your plant needs.
Check for pests. If you notice a plant has been attacked by some sort of pest, take the time to determine the pest and manually remove it from your garden. This will be possible if your garden is small enough otherwise, research for organic pest control methods to control your problem.
Harvest. Sometimes when you start gardening you tend to enjoy looking at your garden so much you forget to harvest. Harvesting actually helps the plant and in the case of lettuce, for example, plucking leaves will actually help the plant grow bigger and newer leaves.