5 tips to start your first vegetable garden
If you’re new to vegetable gardens, don’t fear. Vegetable gardening is a rewarding and sustainable hobby. We’ve compiled a handy guide to provide you with the basics to get your vegetable garden started.
The first step is to figure out about your plant hardiness zone. This will help you decide when and what to plant. Do a search on USDA plant hardiness zone, and you’ll discover where you are on the chart. It can be a bit tricky — even within one city, you might land within more than one zone.
Once you have that figured out, we have a few other tips for green gardener:
1. Get to know people in the know:
You may have a master gardener in your midst – be it your work pal who seems to have an incredible green thumb, or your neighbor, whose garden is the most glorious spot on the block. Many people like to take their hobby up a notch to a passion. And the goal of a Master Gardener is to spread the word; consider them horticultural Holy Rollers. But even without formal training, that buddy or relative who digs digging is likely to give you the best advice about gardening in your specific area. If that garden guru can’t get carrots to grow in her backyard, you likely will have the same struggle.
2. Start with the soil:
The best thing you can do for your garden – not to mention our planet – is to start composting and stop tossing everything. Consider purchasing a bin that will help you turn your veggie and fruit peelings and pits, coffee grounds, eggshells, along with other plant waste, into gold for your soil. Compost Wizard 7-Cubic Foot Plastic Tumbler Recycler, $162.54 (plus Cash Back), lowes.com
3. Seeds of change:
While the season is young, don’t be afraid to start from seed. But if you’re new to gardening, we suggest something simple, like a small herb garden. For those with not much space to garden, something like basil is ideal for a container. Follow the instructions on the packet, and presto, it’s pesto! Genovese Basil Seeds, $3.55 (plus Cash Back), homedepot.com
4. Start small:
You might have dreams of a field of corn in the back yard, or your own pumpkin patch, but reel it in a bit if you’re new to the “sport” of veggie gardening. Start with plants that grow smaller fruit (think cherry tomatoes vs. beefsteaks), and if you don’t have a lot of room, consider plants that grow up, not out. That is, pole beans, vs. pumpkins. You can build up to that patch once you have a few years of experience under your belt.
5. Location, location, location:
Shade and veggie gardening generally do not go hand-in-hand. Find a space that gets a ton of sun, and isn’t “sharing” the water supply with nearby trees (which also offer the shade that we love, but many veggie plants hate).
6. Water, water, everywhere:
If you’ve checked out a plot for your garden that has lots of sun, and not a whole lot of leaves, you’re in luck. Till in the compost and you’ll have a good start. But not if your dream spot is far, far away from the nearest spigot. It’s best to plant near a source of water. Try to plant veggies with similar water needs together. Water deeply when the heat is on in the summer – and avoid getting the leaves of your plants damp. Soaker hoses are best for areas where summer temperatures often reach 90 degrees or higher.