Starting a successful home garden is a worthwhile and exciting project but it can also be a little intimidating. It’s easy to dream in the cold winter months of the getting your hands dirty in the warm earth and harvesting a bumper crop but knowing how to get started, what to plant, and how to best prepare can be tough.
We just finished off another great CSA season at our local farm and, along with raking leaves this weekend, cleaned up the containers and beds at home.
Here are my 8 quick tips for getting started with a home based veggie garden:
1. Keep it simple and start small
It’s exciting to get started with virgin soil and it can be very easy to get carried away. Those plants are so small in the beginning! For your first season stick with hardy, easy-to-grow plants. Your friends and neighbors might be able to give you tips on tomatoes or squash but maybe not kholrahbi.
2. Start a compost pile/bin
So much of gardening success comes down to the dirt and the best way to improve your soil is with the black gold of compost.
I’m not sure anyone enjoys mulching but it’s hard to argue that it’s not worth the time and effort in the garden. Mulch will help retain more moisture, keep pests at bay, and keep nutriet-stealing weeds from overwhelming your plot.
4. Visit your garden often
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Stay on top of weeds, emerging pests and diseases, thin out plants, and pull anything that is ready to harvest. All of these simple tasks can be done daily or every few days and will make your gardening life much easier.
5. Take notes
It seems obvious when it happens. How could you possible forget? But you will. Take photos and notes on plants, pests, planting timing, weather, what worked and what didn’t. You’ll thank yourself when it comes time to start again in the spring.
6. Grow what you can’t buy
So much produce is now more widely available but if you can’t find it at the local market (or it’s too expensive), spend some time and space toward growing it yourself instead. It really does taste better.
7. Plant things you love
No one is going to judge you for growing 64 tomatoes if you really love and use tomatoes. Don’t feel like you need to grown a healthy balanced garden just to look good.
8. Talk to your neighbors
In my experience gardeners, like golfers, love to talk about their hobby and are happy to share tips, tricks, and crops that work well in your area. Don’t have a local community garden, gardening club or gardening neighbors? The local retail garden centers can also be a good source of nearby knowledge.
You can get the most out of your garden with a little advance planning and preparation. These 8 quick tips will get your garden off to a solid start and give you a firm foundation of gardening fundamentals that will ultimately increase your harvest yield and hopefully your enjoyment out in the dirt.