I’m one of those kinds of gardeners, the kind who think that if you have a sunny spot with decent soil, you should grow some vegetables.
In every place I’ve gardened, the first order of gardening business has always been to determine where the vegetable garden will be. Then I figure out what to do in the rest of the space.
I won’t apologize for it, debate it, or shy way from it. I enjoy growing vegetables.
In fact, I think every person, whether they consider themselves a gardener or not, ought to find a little sunny spot and grow different kinds of vegetables like tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers, or whatever vegetable they like to eat that will grow in their climate.
I simply proclaim…
Embrace vegetable gardens for a happier life.
We gardeners who grow vegetables need to be ready to help others embrace this higher form of gardening because if polls and speculators are correct, it’s becoming more popular every year.
With that in mind, here are my top six tips for the first time vegetable gardener.
Start small. In a space as small as eight feet by four feet, you can grow a few tomato plants, some peppers, a row or two of beans and a hill of squash. That’s a good start, especially in a zone 5 garden here in the Midwestern United States.
Plant in raised beds. It is much easier to start and tend a raised bed garden than it is to till up a big space. You can build a simple frame out of any untreated lumber, place it on a fairly flat space, layer the ground with newspapers, dump in some top soil, and plant. While this is best done in the fall to give the grass time to die and decompose, it can also be done in the spring. I use 1 x 6 boards for the frames for my raised beds.
Start with plants and “big seeds’. Buy a few tomato and pepper plants for your first garden and the ‘big seeds” like beans and squash that can all be planted in the garden at the same time, once the danger of frost has passed.
Mulch around the plants. To keep weeds down, add a layer of mulch around the plants. This is optional and can be any cheap mulch, but if you don’t do this, be prepared to embrace weeding, because weeds will grow in your new garden.
Fertilize and water. The fast growing vegetable plants will do better with regular applications of a good organic fertilizer, which can be purchased at a local garden center. And if it doesn’t rain for a week or so, water the plants well, giving them a good, long drink, not just a sprinkle.
Harvest and enjoy. Even with a small a garden, you will be amazed at how many vegetables you will harvest and how good they will taste!
Then after you’ve embraced vegetable gardens with a small gardening plot, you can expand your garden and start the season sooner and end it later, adding more types and varieties of vegetables.
If you are now ready to embrace vegetable gardens, you might also check out a few books including some of the classics like Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew and Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch.
Embrace vegetable gardens for a happier life!
(Yes, growing vegetables is that easy, most of the time. But every once in a while you might encounter some insects that want your vegetables as much as you do, and maybe a rabbit might get in your garden and eat through a row of beans. But don’t get too worried about these possible pests, until you see which ones will be a problem in your garden. Then you can deal with them, one pest at a time.)