Growing a Veggie Garden for the Absolute Beginner
Veggie Gardening 101 Series
Part 1: Do Some Research + Get What You Need
If you look back a few months you have seen that one of my desires for the year was to plant a vegetable garden. I love the concept of growing your own food – getting a little more hands on with nature, making delicious recipes with pickings right from the backyard and saving a few bucks. It is something I have longed for for many years.
Sadly, I am also one of those people who has a history of killing every green thing I have ever owned. I have had a few half-assed attempts at a garden in the past, but never had much luck – MOSTLY because I stopped trying and stopped caring. But there were always other factors at play! The squirrels ate all my strawberry plants before they had a chance, my herbs were always either too dry or sopping wet and the weeds just overtook the tomatoes. I thought it was important to start off here, because I truly have no real gardening experience.
This year I decided to approach things a little differently. In the past, I have always picked up the pre-planted starter vegetables that are ready to go in the ground. Not this year! I decided to grow from seed. Why? I am thinking that if I take the time to start early and start these little guys right from the beginning, that maybe, MAYBE, I will have invested just enough time and effort to see this through.
Let me also start off by saying that more than likely there are other/better/different ways of doing this. I am starting from scratch, but I am also all over making things easy. I used The Guide to Canadian Vegetable Gardening book as my primary source of research, but I also asked questions at the gardening store and got some tips from helpful eavesdroppers. This mini blog-series will go through what I did/what I am doing to start and grow my own vegetable garden. So, let’s get started.
Step One: Do Some Research
Just like starting out anything new it is important to do a little reading, review some sources and gather information. Get an idea what you are getting yourself into in terms of the amount of work, time and money required. The beauty of growing vegetables is that you can try it out on any scale that works for you. Maybe you want to start easy with a planter of fresh herbs, maybe you have the room for a small garden, or maybe you want to turn your backyard into a full fledge crop! I obviously would recommend starting with something small and realistic to your lifestyle. (Take it from the girl who failed at gardening the last two years - don’t go too big too quickly! The last thing you want to do is invest too much money before deciding whether you ACTUALLY like and enjoy it. If you don’t like or enjoy it, it won’t stick!).
Find out about your areas growing season – when is the first and last frost? What vegetable varieties flourish in your zone? This is important because it will help determine what you decide to grow. And of course, you have to start sowing different vegetables at different times, and depending on their hearty-ness some get planted earlier than others. Choose what you want to grow, learn when to start them, when to plant them and plan accordingly!
Once you decide 1) What your garden space will look like, 2) What you want to grow and 3) When you need to start, you can start getting your supplies!
* Recommendation Alert * For Canadian folks I recommend reading Douglas Green’s The Canadian Guide to Vegetable Gardening. When looking for a good resource this book had the best reviews, and having now read it myself can also confirm it is an informative and user-friendly. Buy it, borrow it or get it from the library – do what you have to!
Step Two: Get What You Need
Head to a local gardening store near you and pick up the basics to get you started. Again, no need to go overboard and get everything you need for the whole season – just what you need to get those seeds sowed. Why? Maybe all my plants will fail, maybe I will HATE gardening and come May I will have given up already! I am determined this won’t happen, but this is why I am doing it this way. Baby steps! Take things in small manageable steps and it will be far less overwhelming.
Also, let’s not make things harder for us than they need to be! This is why I am recommending the Jiffy Professional Greenhouse. One of these trays will sow 36 plants and includes simple step-by-step instructions. If you do it this way, all you need is a Jiffy tray and seeds. How easy is that? Super easy! Now, you are all set.
So after all of this, what did I decide on?
I decided on a combo of both planters and a garden bed. I don’t have all the details sorted out, but between the two I think I can achieve the veggie garden that I hope for. I will start to sort out the space logistics at the end of April.
I decided to try growing broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, mini bell peppers, beets, cucumber and beans. I picked up a package of seeds for each variety and a Jiffy Professional Greenhouse – time to get those bad boys started!
Starter Cost: $21.42
- Jiffy Professional Greenhouse ($6.99)
- Broccoli ($1.89)
- Cauliflower ($1.89)
- Kale ($1.89)
- Spinach ($1.99)
- Beets ($ 0.59)
- Mini Bell Peppers ($2.99)
- Cucumber ($1.89)
- Beans ($1.89)
So, now that I have taken the fear out of gardening, what are you going to grow?
Part 2 of the Veggie Gardening 101 Series coming soon! Next step we plant!