Spring is the season of rebirth and it’s when gardening hopefuls tend to hit up their nearest nursery. The sun is shining, the weather is warming, and that means it’s time to get outside and tend some plants. If you’re a beginner though, where do you start? When it comes to an edible garden, there are some things to think about before you rush off and buy a dozen tomato seed packets.
Before you begin setting up your garden, the first thing you need to consider is where this garden will be located and how much light that area gets. Plants need sunlight to photosynthesize, so making sure they get 6-8 hours of sunlight each day is important if you want them to grow properly. Keep an eye on how the shade of nearby trees moves throughout the day so you can accurately determine the best area for your garden.
If this is your first edible garden, it’s best to avoid plants that can be difficult to grow. Some of the best options for total beginners are leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach. These will need more space to grow, so keep that in mind. Other options include beans and onions, and radishes. A garden is a long-term commitment, so you don’t need to go all-in at the start. Take some time to plan it out and choose the best plants based on your climate, sunlight availability, grow time, and garden size. Read the seed packet for any plants you’re considering to help you decide which will work best for you.
Where and how you plant your garden will determine its maintenance needs. Raised garden beds will need the lowest amount of watering and you can use a rain gauge to keep an eye on the water level. If you decide to plant in pots, these will need daily watering and therefore they require the most maintenance. Using high-quality nutrient-rich mixed potting soil will increase the health of your plants, as will adding fertilizer regularly.
There are several options when it comes to protecting your plants from pests. Using environmentally-friendly methods is recommended when possible, such as planting marigolds around your crops or utilizing companion planting which creates a natural deterrent. Other options include mesh netting and harvest guards which can be used to cover crops without blocking sunlight.
Curb Your Expectations
Your enthusiasm about your edible garden should be high, but it’s a good idea to curb your expectations for your first year. An edible garden is a labor of love and experience. For many beginners, the first season can be a bit disappointing. No matter how hard you work or how much money you sink into it, you might not get the results you hope for right away. This is mostly just due to experience, and it doesn’t mean your garden can’t be successful. As each year passes, you’ll get better at figuring out what grows best for you. Over the years you’ll master each plant and get a pulse on your garden, allowing you to move on to more difficult edible plants.
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