The Fundamentals are Key to a Sensational Gardening Adventure
Many times I have been asked, “How to grow a vegetable garden?”
My suggestion to beginner gardeners is to start small the first year…maybe a 75 to 150 square feet plot…or 4 to 6 containers…no more than 3 or 4 vegetables and, maybe a few herbs. Tomatoes are a popular first choice. Leaf lettuce, cucumbers, and green beans are also good.
You will grow confidence in your successes as a vegetable gardener and reap the benefits of your labor with each bite into your home-grown produce. Next year, if you have additional space available, you can add other types of plants.
I grew up hearing P.L.A.N.T. constantly.
It’s an acronym my father pounded into me. And, it has served me well throughout my gardening life:
What vegetables and herbs do you want to grow that work well in your area and which ones do you enjoy?
Do you want to buy plants or seeds? Plants can make your life easier but are more expensive than seeds. If you’re doing container gardening or, only want a few plants, then this may be for you. Inexpensive seeds are usually my choice.
What vegetables will need more space than others? (Think “zucchini”, which can overrun a very large area!) Tomatoes also need at least 3 to 4 feet between plants and rows.
Will your garden be in-ground, raised, or in containers?
What is your garden layout?
You don’t want to plant shorter plants in places where other taller plants might keep them from getting direct sunlight. You should also try to rotate your garden, if possible, meaning…don’t plant the same plants in the same place every year because it may deplete the soil and you will spend more time and money spreading fertilizer.
Where are you going to put your garden?
Look for an area that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of sunshine, preferably on the south side of your house. If your plants stay in the shade all the time, their growth will either be stunted or the plants may grow 2 or 3 times higher than normal (trying to reach the sun). The vegetables will be few and far between…and, they will not look healthy or be flavorful.
What vegetable plants thrive in your neck of the woods? Some may work great in other areas but not yours.
How big will your garden be? I heartily recommend that beginner gardeners start with a small plot. The successes will be smaller but…so will the failures…and, there will be much less chance to be discouraged. As you gain experience and knowledge year after year, you can increase your gardening space and the variety of vegetables you plant.
What type of soil preparation will you need? For in-ground or raised gardens, it’s a good idea to have the soil tested each year at least for the first couple of years. Most counties have a cooperative extension service that will send your soil sample to a local university for testing. The cost is usually around $8 or $10 and, in a couple of weeks, you will get a report detailing what type and how much fertilizer you should add to your garden and that will maximize your growing success.
When will you start planting?
A good rule of thumb is WAIT until after the last expected frost. Freezing cold can kill your plants.
Planting season can start as early as March and as late as the end of May. Your local county cooperative extension can help with this.
How many hours each week can you dedicate to your garden? Consider just some of the gardening tasks you will be doing:
- Soil testing
- Seed germination
- Transplanting and hardening off seedlings – I enthusiastically recommend using grow lights for transplanted seedlings. The lights are a superior way to offer veggie plants more chlorophyll-producing illumination than limited sunshine through a window.
- Tilling – Your soil should be soft and loose, so roots can easily penetrate. And, it should have good drainage, to guard against root rot and other plant diseases.
- Planting and pruning
- Weeding and mulching
- Bug and disease control
- Food preservation
As you browse through the pages of this website, you will find more detailed advice, information, and articles that will enhance your ability to cultivate a thriving garden.
Remember…grass is just a backyard vegetable garden in waiting!
Is the P.L.A.N.T. philosophy a part of your gardening technique? Do you have other acronyms or tricks that are successful for your veggie growing? Type a comment below and tell me about it! You can email me as well: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I came…I saw…and I gardened !