Starting a vegetable garden is an easy way to save money and with the recently high costs of fresh produce more people are choosing to start a vegetable garden this summer. Other reasons to start your own vegetable garden include
• Food safety, you have control of what you are going how it is going, and control over fertilizers and pesticides used.
• Access to fresh vegetables during the growing season, and the satisfaction of processing and storing your own homegrown vegetables for use in the off season.
• Health benefits of active gardening cannot be understated. Gardening has benefits both the physical, mental and emotional health of its participants and can be a fun recreational pursuit for the whole family.
The important thing to remember is that gardening is not as difficult as you may think. The simplicity of gardening, of dropping the seed into soil, adding proper care and producing an edible vegetable is simply the way nature works.
By paying attention to a few basic rules and following a few recommendations, there is no reason for you not to have a successful productive garden this summer. You will be able to enjoy cheaper, more nutritious, and safer food through the summer season and be able to preserve and store your homegrown goodies for the winter.
1. Location – some vegetable plants need full sun, some vegetable plants need partial shade. Try to select a location on your property that can provide a bit of both. If the area chosen is full sun, you can use row covers to provide some shade to the plants that need it.
2. You will also need an easily accessible source of water. A nearby faucet that can provide water through a hose, or close to a building that can provide water from gravity feed rain barrels will also do the trick. Hauling water in buckets is not an enjoyable experience for the gardener.
3. Good soil is the most important factor in a successful garden. Know your soil type and add lots of organic matter. We are fortunate to have rich sandy loam that drains well and have added as much organic matter as we can get over the past seven years. Compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings, aged sawdust all finds its way into the raised rows and raised beds.
4. Keep it natural. Avoid chemical fertilizers, pesticides and GMO seed and you can be assured you are feeding your family the very best of fresh produce. Grow like your grandparents did.
1. Keep it small and in control. A large garden demands more time and can prove to be overwhelming for the first time gardener. It is best to start small and as you gain experience and set new gardening goals allow the size of your garden to grow. A 10’ x 16’ garden can adequately provide for a family of four through the summer season and still supply foods for processing and storage into the winter months.
2. Plant what you will eat. Kale may be the new superfood. However, if no one in your family will eat it, it is taking up valuable gardening space. If you like fresh salads. Plant a variety of leafy greens that provide daily fresh salads. Like green beans, plant green beans and plant enough to vacuum pack and freeze and enjoy it with your Christmas dinner. Like salsa for movie nights? Grow tomatoes, onions and peppers. The idea here is to plant according to what your family likes to eat.
3. Source seeds locally. Avoid purchasing seeds where you do not know the source. Good seed, non-GMO seldom sells for $1.00 a package. Beware of low pricing as they could be re-packaged old seeds. Buy from a reliable source that is producing seed tested for your hardiness zone. The Creative Garden Patch sources seed in our geographical area. Last year we had super success with seed from Rainbow Seed, located in Riverside-Albert, NB and supplies non GMO, heirloom seed. Our garlic seed is sourced minutes away from the Gagetown Garlic Company.
4. Avoid over planting. One tomato plant, depending on the variety, can produce 10 to 15 pounds of tomatoes. Do you really need three six-packs of tomatoes from the nursery? If you want different varieties of tomatoes, consider giving your excess plants away to community gardens or arranged to share with fellow gardening friends.
5. Mulch all your bare soil. Use of mulch suppresses weeds and helps retain moisture in the soil. Mulching will also cut down on the labour required. We mulch with year old hay, straw, shredded leaves and plant cover crops like annual rye and buckwheat as we harvest areas of the garden.
6. Seek out advice. Gather information on what grows best in your geographical area and hardiness zone. Find the most experienced gardener in your locale and ask if you can visit. Be prepared to help in the weeding and keep your eyes and ears open and ask questions. Visit local farmers markets and talk to the local organic farmers. Most are happy to share their knowledge and will likely invite you to visit the organic operation. Get to know your nearby nurseries. Many offer seminars on gardening for free or a small fee.
7. Join a gardening group or club. Visit community gardens, search the Internet and Facebook, and inquire at your local nurseries for groups that may be operating in your area. Through these clubs, you will be able to share with the knowledge and experience of other gardeners and participate in seed and plant exchanges.
8. Our final recommendation – do not procrastinate. If you’re thinking about starting your own garden, start planning now. We have been using the Garden Planner from GrowVeg.com for three years and love the ease of use in keeping things organized and scheduled.
Growing your own fresh, nutritious food is easier than many think.
Come on spring
Tom and Di