This Is Farming.

Farmer-inspired Tips for the Home Gardener

Whether you’re a fourth generation farmer, a hobby gardener, or just a kid who loves to watch things grow, there is a farmer in all of us who enjoys getting our hands dirty. Erik Helland, owner of Landscape Garden Centers of Sioux Falls offers a few helpful tips to make the most of your backyard growing experience and take a lesson or two from the commercial grower.

Find the most sunshine exposure.

When you consider a farmer’s field, it’s not surrounded by a bunch of shade. Make sure your backyard planting area is similar. Pick a spot that exposes your plants to the maximum amount of sunlight.

Soil enrichment is a must.

Most farmers have been cultivating the land for decades and the soil is well prepared. First time planters really have to make an effort to enrich and care for the soil. Organic material - such as manure, compost or grass clippings - goes a long way toward soil health. Plus, plants typically tolerate them much better than commercial chemicals.

Depend on drainage.

A landowner pays special attention to drainage and soil saturation and so should the homeowner. Raising up flower beds a bit higher, using simple underground PVC systems, building backyard berms and implementing rain barrels are all great solutions to make the most of water.

Control your weeds early.

The best time to manage your weeds is at the first sign. They are a planter’s biggest obstacle. When spraying chemical solutions, precise application is important. Fruit and vegetable plants are far more sensitive than the weeds you’re fending off. Instead, pluck by hand and consider newspaper or grass clippings to minimize their growth.

As Helland emphasizes, many of the challenges a gardener faces are exactly the same as a farmer, but on a much smaller scale. No matter the size of your backyard crop, attention to a few small details can make a big difference when it’s time to pick, harvest, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.