My garden is my favorite place to be. I love everything about it- from planning to starting seeds inside to digging in the dirt. But gardening can sometimes seem like an overwhelming venture for those just starting out.
So if this is your first year gardening- or if you are a beginner who was seriously overwhelmed last year- here are 11 tips for beginning gardeners to reduce wasted time, energy and resources as well as prevent getting in over your head.
11 Tips for Beginning Gardeners
1. Start Small
I know, you want to feed your family all summer long. Or you want to preserve food for the winter. Or you want to try every single seed from the catalogs. Trust me, if you start out with a huge garden you will get overwhelmed.
If this is your first year gardening, take it slow. Plant a few tomatoes and peppers. A small herb garden. Some beans and lettuce. Maybe some onions. Get used to how certain plants grow and their needs. Try out something like Square Foot Gardening to grow a lot of food in a smaller space.
Keep your small plot weeded, watered and pest-free. If all goes well this first year, you can expand just a bit more the following year.
2. Plant what you eat [mostly]
Do you love fresh tomatoes and tomato sauce? Is salsa your thing? Then tomatoes should definitely be on your to-grow list. Are potatoes detested by the entire family? You might want to skip them. If you only use peppers in salsa and the occasional stir-fry or soup, 1 or 2 plants is probably enough.
That being said, homegrown food is always better. Have you tasted a pea straight from the garden? There is no comparison to the bland store-bought varieties. Especially in the case of picky kids, growing your own, and letting them help, will help them expand their palate and introduce new foods. Gardening is also an excuse to build up your own tastes.
Your menu might never include kale, cabbage or chard- unless it’s right outside your door begging to be used. Once you have your gardening legs under you don’t be afraid to try a few new things!
3. Plant to your climate
Knowing your zone is one of the most important parts of gardening. It will determine what you can plant and when. If you live in a colder northern climate you will have to pick more cold-weather crops and short-season varieties of all the others.
If you live in an area that stays warm much of the year you will plant your warm season veggies much earlier than much of the country. When choosing your seeds, pay attention to how many days it will take to mature as well as what growing zone it is best suited for.