Budding gardeners get so excited about starting a garden that they may think too big and go too fast. It is best to start with one or two beds. If they have turned into bramble beds by the end of the summer, you may have to reconsider. But if after the first year you say to yourself, “I really can do better,” it’s a sign that gardening is conquering you.
By having your own garden, you’ll know exactly what you’re feeding your family, and you’ll be able to fight the downward spiral of food prices (no more $8 cauliflower!). Here are the golden rules and the best tips to start and succeed with your vegetable garden this year.
1. Vegetables to grow for beginners
The easiest vegetables for beginners to plant are tomatoes and lettuce. Zucchini are also easy to grow (also check out our best tips for growing tomatoes). Some varieties of lettuce sprout in as little as seven days, so you’ll know quickly if you’re going to succeed (or if you need to start over).
2. Herbs are harder to grow
Herbs are harder to grow because they require hot, dry weather and sandy soil (think Mediterranean climate). If you are determined to grow herbs, your best strategy would be to start planting in a pot and put the entire pot in the ground so that the soil does not mix with the rest.
3. The best type of soil for the vegetable garden
Vegetables grow best in Triple Mix, which is potting soil mixed with peat moss and occasionally sand or fertilizer. You can always take soil from your backyard, but it would be better to give it nutrients if you want to grow fruits and vegetables.
4. Choose seeds accordingly
The best tip for growing good vegetables, tomatoes, for example, is to choose the right seeds. Seeds are easy to produce, as long as they come from a traditional variety and not a hybrid variety. To collect the seeds: put the pulp of a ripe tomato in a bowl and add a little water. A whitish film will form on the surface of the liquid.
After 36 hours: add water and stir. This process separates the pulp from the seeds that fall to the bottom. Filter the liquid through a sieve, rinse the seeds with cold water and let them dry on a paper towel.
5. The importance of good germination
For seeds to germinate, they need heat. Usually, the natural warmth of spring is enough, but gardeners can use a few tricks in colder climates to get a head start on spring. Keep them in a warm place, such as in a heat diffuser, Styrofoam box, or even on top of your hot water system. In late winter, sow seeds in small pots or a cell tray.
6. How to grow a vegetable garden in a small space
Only have a small space to garden, but still want to grow fruits and vegetables? Use planters. They allow you to better control the environment and keep pests away. When choosing a planter, consider its materials, as they could contaminate your soil if they become soggy.
For example, if you use chemically treated or pressure treated wood, the chemicals in it will seep into your soil. Look for MicroPro Sienna wood that saturates the soil 95% less. It’s a huge improvement over regular pressure-treated wood bins and for a much less prohibitive price than cedar. Feel free to take inspiration from this urban gardener’s guide.
7. Stakes are always a good idea for high plants
Staking is essential for plants as they naturally climb or crawl. Staking allows the plant to grow taller, taking up less space on the ground and avoiding the adverse effects of wet soil, which encourages disease development. Use stakes 1.5 to 2 m long and prick them into the ground near the base of each plant.
Prick the stakes about 60 cm apart to give the plants enough room to grow. Make a 10 cm hole in the front of each stake and carefully plant each seedling, giving it a slight slant towards its stake. Water, then gently tap the soil around the plants, being careful not to damage the stems. As they grow, use raffia or string to tie them to the stakes to give them support. Use new stakes each year, as they can harbor fungus. Choose square stakes rather than round ones to avoid slippage. Use soft ties, such as old socks, instead of rope or metal pins.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about having a garden.