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So you want to start a vegetable garden? I’m going to warn you that once you start you just can’t stop! At least that’s how it’s been with me. Gardening is a great thing that helps to feed your family and keep you healthy at the same time! So what are we waiting for?
Here are my top tips for the beginner gardener:
Plan & Research
Believe it or not, January is the best time to start planning your garden. First you will need to determine some basic things such as:
What USDA Hardiness zone do you live in?
USDA Hardiness Zone Map
What is your last frost date?
Average Date of Last Freeze
These will help you determine when to plant. You will also need to figure out how big of a space you have and what you want to plant. Do as much research as you can about what you want to grow so that you are setting yourself up for a successful experience, but keep in mind that not everything is in your control such as weather, disease and pests. Another great resource is your local extension service. They are a wealth of information on what grows well in your area.
Keep it Simple
It’s easy to get excited and plant way more than you can handle when your first starting out. I suggest choosing 2-4 different vegetables that you know your family eats frequently and focus on those. Some quick and easy things to grow include:
I highly suggest keeping a notebook with a sketch of your garden layout. You can then jot down what you planted when and how things did throughout the season. About.com has a great free printable garden notebook to help get you started, but you can just use a simple spiral notebook if you want. These notes will help you to improve each year and show what works and what doesn’t.
It’s great to have another gardener to turn to when your in tears about the horn worms destroying your tomatoes because non gardeners just don’t understand!
Having a garden buddy can help to build your confidence and knowledge base. Striking up a conversation at your local farmer’s market or nursery is a great way to meet like minded people!
Enjoy the Process
While gardening is a lot of work, it’s also relaxing and therapeutic. Watching a tiny seed grow into a mature fruit bearing plant that feeds your family is truly an amazing thing! We all have certain expectations for our garden, but try to relax and realize that it will all work out in the end! Or it won’t and you will just have to go the farmer’s market :).
I hope I’ve encouraged you and given you confidence as you are just starting out. Let me know if you have any questions and be sure to follow me on Instagram to see pictures of my own garden!