Gardening can be intimidating. You may not think you have a green thumb (I used to think I had a brown thumb), be unsure of how to start, or where to start. Plus, it also depends on the space you have. First, let's tackle the where to garden. Some of you may be in high rise apartments, homes, dorms, or out in the country. Regardless of where you live, you definitely can get a mini (or large) garden going. Here are a few ideas of where to plant...
Got some ground? Then, plant straight in it. You might want to go to your local nursery to find out if there is anything you need to add to the soil to help get it ready for planting. We have really clay like dirt here so I had to buy good planting soil and mix it in to get my ground ready.
Are you ready to get serious and grow your own produce section? Make some raised beds (and maybe add some wheels to make it moveable). My husband made ours (we used this as a guide), but your local hardware store might have some ready made ones available. If you anticipate possibly having any gopher/mole problems, put a 1/4'' wire mesh on the bottom to protect your garden. We didn't do that in the beginning and started having problems a year later, so we had to take all the dirt out of each bed, put down the mesh, and put all the dirt back in. It was a good arm and back workout! We also have one raised bed with wheels so we can move it around.
We have grown tons of stuff... various herbs, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, root vegetables, beets, peppers, and so much more. We have typically done a winter garden and a summer garden. We live in Southern California so we did research on books that were for our specified area. This book has been really helpful for us, but you might want to consult your local garden store for some resources based on your area. We are by no means professional gardeners. We make tons of mistakes and get better every year, but we enjoy the process. Here are a few tips that have been helpful for us...
1. Read up on what you are planting. Ben was the diligent one to do research on what we were planting and how to plant it. There is so much to know and having a garden can get costly, so make sure you study a bit, so you can really take care of your investment.
2. Space plants appropriately. At first I thought you just throw the seeds anywhere and they will grow. No siree. Plants need room to grow, especially vegetables. My husband makes a chart of how far to space everything out. It really makes a difference. As far as my floral garden, I like gardens that look messy and the plants tumbling over each other, so I do plant my flowers a bit closer, but I still give them plenty of elbow space too.
3. Not all plants need the same amount of water. Again, this goes back to reading up on what you are planting. Our first year we grew tomatoes, we thought it was good to water them every other day, then we went to a garden show and listened to a professional tomato grower speak, and he said they really only need deep watering once or twice a week! We did that the following year and got so much better results.
4. Pay attention to the sun. For us, we have found that most things we have planted require full, all day sun, so you will want to plant according to the amount of sun your plant will need.
Again, we aren't garden geniuses and these things are just basic things you may have heard already, but we just enjoy growing plants and vegetables for our family and encourage you to give it a shot. Having a garden (small or big) is wonderful and gives us yummy food on the table. Plus, gardening is just another way we like to make memories together as a family. Everyone is involved. It is all a learning process and you will learn something new every season. Not everything we have planted turned out great, but get a good garden book and read up on the basics and give it a go. I think gardening is a learn by trial and error thing and you will just get better every year!
Happy gardening!!! Rubyellen