Thinking of trying your hand (er…green thumb) at gardening?
There is certainly nothing more gratifying than growing your own healthy, organic produce. For starters, it tastes a million times better than anything you can get in the grocery store and once you have your garden established and are able to start things from seed, it costs way less.
Plus, kids enjoy getting their little hands (and everything else) dirty helping you in the garden. As an added bonus, for some reason, kids seem to be more willing to try new things if they watched them grow from a tiny seed into a tasty fruit or vegetable.
Get Growing With These Gardening Tips for Beginners:
#1: Start Small and Grow From There — Before you plow up half the lawn and replace it with rich, organic compost, pick a smaller (more manageable) project, like growing salad greens in a patio container or planting raspberries along your back fence. That way you can get a sense of your gardening style and you aren’t overwhelmed with weeds if you don’t fill up the entire space the first season.
#2: Understand Your Garden — Take a look around your new garden space and see what you have to work with for sun/shade, sandy/rich soil and soil depth. These are the basic elements that will determine what will grow where in your garden so you can make the most of the space you have available by planting things that will do best in that spot.
#3: Plan Your Garden Plot — Match your plants the sun, soil and drainage conditions of your garden. Chances are you will have a variety of different conditions. An easy rule of thumb is that fruit-bearing plants, like tomatoes, peppers, squashes, and berries, like hot conditions; salads and delicate greens and herbs need a little shade; and root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, benefit from loose, deep soil.
#4: Start With Simple and Sure Things — Pick a few no-brainer plants to start with, like arugula (rocket), radishes, kale and peas. It’s also a good idea to read through your garden catalogue or talk to a local garden expert to find out what grows best in your area as what is successful in wet, coastal conditions may suffer in dry, prairie weather (and vice versa).
#5: Get a Jump Start With Seedlings — Give yourself a bit of instant gratification by planting seedlings instead of starting everything from seed. Getting a head start is especially important in places with short growing seasons or for plants that require a lot of time to bear fruit, like tomatoes and peppers.
#6: Invest in Perennials — Plant a number of your garden beds with perennial vegetables, fruits or herbs so you can enjoy them year after year. For vegetables, consider starting asparagus, artichoke and kale; for fruits, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries; and for herbs, rosemary, mint, thyme, sage, lavender, oregano, and chives.
#7: Amend, Amend, Amend — Keep adding compost to your garden because over time, crops and precipitation will deplete the soil. Depending on what you start with, you may need to add more organic material to it from the get-go (i.e. for sandy or clay soil). Peat moss, well-rotted manure, mushroom compost and garden waste all help improve your soil quality.