As the pandemic continues to disrupt the ways we’re accustomed to bringing food into our homes, we’ve seen a big increase of interest in home gardening. For those new to growing vegetables, it can be tempting to overdo it by spending $500 on ‘stuff’ to grow $200 worth of food. Gardening can be simpler!

In the coming weeks, we’ll share a few tips we’ve learned from our partners in the developing world, where people don’t have the luxury of buying from the internet or visiting a garden center to purchase what they need. Instead, our partners have learned to use materials close to home. Here is the first thing we’ve learned.

Tip 1: Keep it small.
Focus your hardest work on the smallest area. Make great soil where roots will grow. Leave the soil alone where roots aren’t.

Preparing deep, rich, loose soil is the tough and important job, while planting seeds is easy! Dig deep and enrich the small area where plants are growing and leave the rest of the ground alone. Give just enough space between young plants to grow a full-sized healthy vegetable, but not more space — later you’ll do less watering and less weeding. This garden supported by our partner Tostan in Senegal perfectly illustrates this type of garden design.

Also from our partner CRMF in Madagascar, here’s a much more sprawling crop, zucchini squash, grown in a contained area — in this case a keyhole garden which is watered through a compost pile in its center. You can see that the soil all around the garden is very poor, like beach sand, so the hard work of adding manure, compost, and good topsoil to make a garden is confined to a small area.

We’ll continue to share more tips learned from our partners in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Seed Programs International is a registered 501c3 nonprofit that operates globally. Our EIN/Tax ID is 56-2092576. 

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