Welcome back! This is the second in a series of posts for beginning gardeners. If you missed the first installment, you can go to it here.
Gardening was not an easy road for me. I didn’t grow up gardening and I just thought all food came from the grocery store and why did you need to grow anything. My husband grew up around his grandparents and great-grandparents large farm gardens so he expected the same. My advice here is purely that, advice. I’m using what I have learned along this journey to help guide you in yours.
1. How Big of a Garden Should I Grow? My advice here is to start small. The first time I decided to garden I did about 20 different pots on our porches. They did great for awhile, but it became too many for me to take care of properly. I didn’t have the habit of taking care of them regularly. That takes time. My advice would be to start small. It will grow exponentially in the future as you get a handle on it all, and learn each season.
2. Where Are You Going To Put A Garden? Depending on the space you need and the time you have you need to determine if you are going to have a container garden, raised beds, or an actual plot. Again, small is best to start. Most vegetables need 6 to 10 hours of sun (whether direct or indirect), so even though you have this beautiful spot under a tree in the backyard, nothing is really going to grow there and you’ll just end up feeding your local backyard creatures.
3. What Should I Plant? Stick with hardy vegetables your first foray. In my area, spring is good for lettuces, radishes, and spinach. Summer veggies that are easy are tomatoes, peppers (bell and jalapenos), herbs (basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, peppermint), and if you have the room zucchini or summer squash.
4. Should I Start From Seed or From a Plant? Personally, we start all of ours by seed, indoors. However, we have been doing this for a while and have an intricate indoor growing set up (some neighbors thought we were growing pot a few years back). If you are just starting, finding a good source of plants and just buying and planting them is probably the best solution. It is a little more expensive, but you’ll yield the best results and be more likely to continue gardening in the future.
5. When Should I Start Planting? It all depends on what zone you are in. To find out you can go here and find which zone you land in. In that link it will also give you a planting schedule as well as a list of what grows best in your area. This year I wanted to plant ginger, however I’m on the line of zone 6 and 7 and it grows best in zones 8-11, so I’ll just have to decide if I want to try it.
What Are We Doing? Our plans are to continue our acre gardening area, as well as we have two raised beds up next to the house on the west side. In our raised beds we will do climbing spinach, rosemary, basil, oregano, sage, chives, and lemongrass. We might add a few heirloom specialty varieties of tomato or cucumber as well as a salad mix. Out at the farm in our large garden space we grow garlic, onions, potatoes, corn, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, asparagus, jalapenos, hatch chiles, cayenne peppers, bell peppers, summer squash, zucchini, and spaghetti squash.
Word of Advice. If this is your first year, don’t go crazy. Gardening takes time and discipline. You have to make the time to care for your plants, not just when you plant and harvest. It takes time to form those habits and if you do too much you’ll be overwhelmed and more likely to give up.
Next Up: Preparing Soil and Other Ways to Get Your Garden Ready!