New to gardening? Here are some easy tips to get your garden started off right!
There’s nothing like picking a sun warmed tomato off the vine and popping it in your mouth! Grow your own organic fruits, veggies, and herbs right in your own backyard! I’d like to offer up some advice I wish I had when first starting out.
Start small. This is hard because once you start looking at seeds and plants and realize how much variety is available you’ll want to grow everything. Taking care of all the everythings would end up being very overwhelming and you’d be setting yourself up for failure. I recommend digging a small space like a 3’x3’ plot or several containers.
The right spot. If you are using moveable containers the right spot can be found anytime. If you are digging a plot, then finding a sunny location is very important. Most vegetables, flowers, and herbs require 6-8 hours of sun a day. Also, make sure you have easy water access.
Good dirt. If you dig a plot, have your soil tested and amend per recommendation. You want a soil that drains well and retains some moisture. If you’re using a raised bed or container, use a combination or ⅓ perlite/vermiculite (I prefer vermiculite here in Texas because it retains more water), ⅓ compost, and ⅓ peat moss. If you don’t want the trouble of mixing your own I’d recommend 2 different kinds of potting/raised bed mixes. I prefer a mix I get from a local nursery and LadyBug Organic. Go to your local nursery and see what they recommend, but never use all the same brand. One year I got a bad soil lot and my garden failed, so now I always mix it up!
Cold loving vs. hot loving plants. Here in Texas it’s very important to know which plants do well in colder climate verses the hot. For example, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and lettuce love the cool temperatures and will not grow in excessive heat. Tomatoes, okra, peppers, basil, beans all do well in heat. It always helps to read up on what you’d like to plant to find out what the plant needs to thrive. Here is a great Vegetable Garden guide for Texas with planting guidelines.
Seeds and Plants. Make sure you follow planting instructions. Space requirements, trellis requirements, sun requirements, planting times are all very important for success. Choose what you will eat. My first year garden consisted of a 1 cherry tomato plant, 1 bell pepper, several radishes, several marigolds and a basil plant which were all in containers. The garden was very small, but I was able to care for it and it did produce. That summer we made the best salad ever! For first time gardeners I strongly recommend buying established plants. If you are excited to start seeds, I recommend radishes, cucumbers, green beans, and lettuce.
Water and wait. After all is planted, water, watch, and wait! Make sure the soil is moist but not wet. Too much or too little water can kill your garden. Most plants need about an inch of water a week, but be aware of climate. If it rains, don’t water your garden. If it’s hot and windy, your garden may need water. Plants in containers need water more often than in ground plants.
Enjoy! Remember to smile when those sun warmed leaves wave at you in the breeze. The first bite you grow will make it all worth it!