With springtime right around the corner, a lot of us are already thinking about our gardens and what we would like to grow this year!
Planting your own garden is not only fun, but can be very rewarding seeing all your hard work pay off. Growing your own vegetable garden is a great way to save money and enjoy fresh, nutritious vegetables at the same time. Often times it’s hard to find the freshest vegetables in your local markets and the ones you can find are usually costly. So not only will you save money, you will be able to provide your family with the best possible produce.
The first thing you need to do is to plan where you want your garden. Just make sure that whatever spot you pick gets plenty of sunlight. You will need to start with the proper tools, especially if this is your first garden. The tools can be purchased at any of your local gardening stores or nurseries. A few basic tools you will need to get started are a garden hoe, a shovel, a rake and a watering can or hose. Along with the proper tools you will also need soil, fertilizer, seeds or plants. Depending on what region you live in will be when you need to start your garden. For all of us in the Northeast region, you will start in the spring and harvest in the fall. Usually late April or early May is a good time to start. Timing is very important because if you start too early in the season, before the last frost, your plants will freeze and die. However starting too late will cause the plants improper growth and most likely will not be ready for harvest time.
Seeds or Seedlings? That’s a good question. Well because of the short growing season and the amount of time some vegetables take to mature from seed some plants are best started indoors like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. For that reason it is better to either start your own plants or purchase seedlings from your local nurseries. Your local nurseries are a great place to find out which vegetables need to be started indoors. Also most seed packets will give you most of the information you’ll need about whether to direct seed in the garden or whether you’ll need to start them so many weeks before your last frost.
Here is a list of vegetables that are direct seeded:
Beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, micro greens, peas, pumpkins, radishes, squash, turnips and watermelon to name a few.
Here is a list of vegetables that transplant well when started indoors:
Basil, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, collards, eggplant, endive, escarole, kale, , leeks, mustard, okra, onions, parsley, peppers, and tomatoes.
Whatever you’re going to choose, either direct seeding, seed starting indoors or purchasing seedlings at your local nursery, it’s best to decide while you are planning your vegetable garden. It’s best to get your plants in the ground as early as possible to acclimate to the weather and to give them the longest growing season possible.
After you have your garden layout and seeds or plants prepared you need to prep the soil before planting. The best material to grow vegetables is compost. The soil needs to be rich in nutrients and moisture in order for plants to grow properly. You can purchase compost or, you could start your own compost pile.
Now it’s time to plant! Most nurseries or seed packets can tell you how far apart to plant and which plants can be together. Spacing and depth is a really important step to take to ensure proper growth. With lots of water, weeding and care you could have a beautiful, healthy vegetable garden of your own!
Lastly, if the above is not enough to intrigue you to start your own garden maybe take a look at some of the health benefits of growing your own. For example, growing your own food lets you limit the amount of chemicals and pesticides you’re ingesting and by doing that you will be able to eat more of the skin on the fruits and vegetables where most of the nutrition is found. So it also allows you to get the benefit of full nutrition from the food. By harvesting your own produce it enables you to eat fresh food right away before essential vitamins are reduced or lost and the taste is far better. Another benefit of you own garden is to turn it into valuable family time. Care of your garden requires a daily commitment, but can be used to educate your children about the nutritional value of the foods they have helped plant. It’s a great bonding experience for the whole family and you may even get the kids interested in trying more new vegetables!
Here is a great website to visit to answer all your questions as seen on NBC 10 news. http://www2.turnto10.com http://www.urimastergardeners.org. You may even be able to get free seed if you are a civil organization or group. There are also garden layout ideas and recipes.