With Spring on the way, seasoned gardeners are already looking at seed catalogs and picking out their varieties they’ll plant this year.
Part of healthy living is healthy eating and what a better way to do that then to plant your own garden and raise your own food?
1. A garden space doesn’t have to be large to yield a good harvest. A five-gallon bucket, for instance, can hold a tomato plant which will be sufficient to feed a couple fresh tomatoes in the Summer and Fall. In this case, even if you live in a small apartment you can have fresh veggies. Use your balcony, outside patio or a window where the sun will come in for most of the day. Use pots or a bucket to hold your plants and you have a garden.
If you have any kind of yard, then designate a small corner or portion of it to plant your garden. Here you’ll have a little more freedom in what you can plant and how much. Whatever size your space, choose one and start planning your garden.
2. Gardens can be very therapeutic and great for people of all ages. If you are new to gardening, however, I would suggest starting small. You want this to be something enjoyable to get your feet wet, not something that ends up being overwhelming and stressful. I have seen people get excited about their first garden and plant a huge one the first year. It never turns out well, so I highly recommend starting off small and then adding to it each year as you learn and grow with your plants.
3. Every community has local gardeners that are more than happy to share their knowledge of how to grow a garden. Everything from what types of veggies grow best in your area and climate, to what type of soil you will need. If you are planting your garden outside, then obviously your soil is right for your area but might need some extra nutrients added. You can ask your Ag extension officer at your courthouse to test your soil, so you can see what minerals or things your soil might be lacking.
If you don’t know any local gardeners to gain advice from, then head to your local nursery where you will find many knowledgeable employees. Although I’m a seasoned gardener, every year things pop up where I need to ask a fellow gardener advice. The ladies at my local nursery have been one of my best resources.
4. No matter what you do or try in life, it’s always a good idea to go into it with a learner’s attitude. Your local library is also a good resource and free. The sky is the limit on plant-related, how to grow garden books.
5. Reading instructions. Before you buy seeds, read the back of the packet to see what zones and what time of year to plant for your area. You need to be sure to look at tags on fruit trees and other flowers or shrubs for this same information. The last thing you want to do is buy something that won’t make it in your zone. It’s heartbreaking when you’re excited about planting something and find out it’s dead when next Spring rolls around. Checking packets and tags will prevent some of this and ensure you have a great first experience.
If growing a garden is not a possibility for you this year, then make sure to choose a healthy alternative when buying your produce. Your local farmers market is a great place to do this. You support your local community and get fresh organic produce. Most farmers markets are held once or twice a week. Make time in your schedule to go to the farmers market, the same as you would go to the store. You will not only get fresh veggies but fruits, canned goods, and baked goods. Be sure to ask each farmer at their booth if they are organic or if they spray before buying as not all are equal. These local farmers are also a great resource for learning the ins and outs of gardening, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
To recap here are the Top 5 Tips for Growing Your Own Garden.
- Pick your space.
- Start small.
- Gain local knowledge and resources from gardeners, your Ag officer, and people at your farmers market. Your Ag officer can answer questions about disease and bugs also.
- Have a learner’s attitude and use your local library to read and get free access to information.
- Read instructions. This includes the back of the seed packet and tags or labels on plants.
With all the information I hope you have a great experience and Spring as you plan and plant your very own garden.
Happy Planting – Heather Earles