Although I am not an expert gardener, I have picked up a few tricks and learned some valuable gardening lessons along the way and with each passing season, I am more knowledge and my thumb gets greener!
If you haven't already read about my horribly hilarious gardening fails, you might want to read it, too! But here are my best gardening tips for my fellow beginner gardeners!
CHECK YOUR GARDEN ZONE | Knowing your zone is key to the success of your garden because sometimes things just won't grow well where you live. We live in Eastern Canada and knowing my garden zone tells me that if I want hot peppers for homemade salsa, I need to start them sometime in February!
GROW WHAT YOU ALREADY EAT | Assuming that something actually grows in your veggie patch, you want to make sure it is something you will actually eat, or can handle harvesting. For instance, in my first vegetable garden I grew about 30 zucchini plants, but after eating zucchini five days in a row, my stomach turned at the sight of it! Grow what you already eat because you love it, things that are easy to grow, and don't grow crazy amounts of it!
WRITE IT ALL DOWN | If you are feeling encouraged enough to continue gardening the next season, be sure to write everything down. You will want to keep track of:
- GARDEN LAYOUT | Keeping track of where you planted garlic will avoid tilling over it and it can help you plan crop rotation, if you are into that kind of thing.
- WHAT GREW WELL | Similar to my zucchini fiasco, you will want to keep track of what grew really well so you can plan to plant that variety again in the coming years, to plant more or less of it.
- & WHAT DIDN'T GROW | As a beginner, you may find some varieties just don't pop up for you on your first try. Take note of these varieties, read the package they came in and either toss the seed, or change it's place in the garden. Writing it down will help to remember that growing bush beans behind a wall of giant sunflowers doesn't really work to well!
- THINGS TO CHANGE | These are the improvements you want to remember for next year! Did you grow enough cucumbers? Maybe grow less zucchini, for example.
READ SEED PACKAGES | The back of the seed packet contains tons of great info on how far apart the plants like to be spaced out in the garden, and how much sun they grow best with. Before planting, planning where things are going to planted can avoid over crowding and allow enough light to grow all the veggies.
START SMALL | You don't have to start out as a full blown farmer! Starting with potted herbs in your kitchen is a great way to learn basic skills for taking care of plants and to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Other small scale options are, raised garden beds, container gardens or pots on your porch or a small veggie patch in the ground.
LABEL EVERYTHING | If you have read my horribly hilarious gardening fails, you know you need to label everything, from your seedlings to saving the seeds because when they start sprouting up, they all look the same!
GROW SOMETHING FUN | Choose one variety or vegetable that really has you excited to grow this season. We grew pie pumpkins to get our youngest excited to help pull weeds and the other child was excited to grow rainbow carrots!
AMEND YOUR SOIL | It is unlikely you will have perfect soil for optimal vegetable harvests so learning what kind of soil you have, whether it loamy, clay or sandy, will help you figure out what you need to add. You can do this easily by picking up a soil test kit from your local garden center which usually comes with a helpful pamphlet on how to amend your soil.
PLAN FOR PESTS | Sooner or later, garden pests will make an appearance in the garden so knowing what to look for and how to treat your plants before they arrive is an excellent tip to ensure you don't lose your crop because you were unprepared. For instance, if I had known cabbage worms were going to find their way to my broccoli sprouts, I would have known how to get rid of them and even prevented them from spoiling out entire broccoli harvest!
CHECK IN DAILY | To avoid over-watering, under-watering, pests, diseases, weeds and basically anything else that can go wrong, check in on your garden daily. This is also great to keep weeds controlled by pulling them daily before they get out of hand!