Congratulations on joining our enthusiastic club. We don’t know where you live or what you want to grow so we’re providing general information about beginning your garden.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Choosing the right location for your vegetable garden is the first and probably the most important step towards success. Vegetables and fruits require lots of sun so your location should receive at least 6 hours of full sun per day. Other things to consider when choosing a location is soil drainage and access to water. A successful crop requires regular watering and you don’t want to be hauling buckets of water to the “back 40”. Although your plants will like regular watering they won’t want “wet feet” so make sure your bedding area drains well. Soil amendments can help correct draining problems whether you’re working with clay or sandy soil.
YOUR SOIL NEEDS
You can identify your soil type by digging a handful and squeezing. Clay soil will hold together i.e. like play dough. Sandy soil will not. Loamy soil, which is ideal but few of us have, will hold together loosely and you can sift though your fingers.
After you have identified the location for your garden you should do a soil test. You can purchase home kits but the best would be to test through your county extension office. The fee for this is nominal but worth the cost. Their report will identify excess/deficient nutrients so you can begin amending. Even the poorest soil can be easily improved once you know what it needs.
Start small and begin with vegetables that are easy to grow such as lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, green beans, and onion sets. These grow easily and quickly from seeds planted directly in your garden. Young children will get a kick out of growing any of these seeds. If you want to grow cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes or peppers, buy plants from your local nursery or reputable online supplier. Growing these from seed can be frustrating even for the seasoned gardener. Unless you have a lot of gardening room stay away from melons, which need crawling space, and corn which needs multiple rows to produce minimal crop.
Find an out-of-the-way spot for your compost pile and start today. Compost everything organic except meats that will attract rodents. Mulched leaves, grass clippings, shredded newspapers, coffee grounds, eggs shells, peelings and table scraps will decompose nicely. It will take a growing season to change from waste to garden “black gold” under normal composting practices. If you want to speed up the process you can use our Tumbleweed Composter and Espoma bio-excelerator.
Lastly, for healthier food and a happier earth, use natural products in your garden whenever possible. All of the items in our Organic section are natural and include no synthetic products.
You can order several books from our website that will be helpful. The Taylor Weekend Guides, Soil & Composting and Kitchen Gardens contain information that will help you get your culinary garden off to a good start. Ortho’s All About Herbs is a must read if you enjoy cooking with herbs.
We hope that you find this information useful and not too overwhelming. You can probably tell that gardening is a passion for us.
We’d love to hear about your gardening journey. Please keep in touch and let us know if we can help you further.