There is something about Spring that makes many of us dream of planting. The sun is shining. The air is warmer. It seems like anything is possible. Thoughts of ripping out the lawn, and planting a big vegetable garden, rise up in our heads and hearts. Visions of tomatoes eaten, still warm from the sun, with juice dripping down our chins. Cucumbers that we’ll make into tangy pickles. Zucchini sliced and grilled filling our plates. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? The problem is, it just isn’t as easy as throwing some seeds in the ground. It takes a little planning. So, this year, let’s be prepared.
First, what kind of garden will you have? Will it be pots on the patio, or raised beds in the back? Maybe a community garden will hold the ticket to your gardening plans. Many towns have them. The gardens in my little town of Bridgewater, do quite well. Size is important. I always advise people to start small and work your way up. What looks easy now, will become out of control in August.
I started with 4 4×4 beds. Fresh off of reading Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholmew, I was ready to feed my family fresh veggies all summer. Over the years I’ve added to that garden. It’s rather large now, but it took me quite a while to get to this point. Next, we need to decide what to grow. Always grow what you eat and be prepared to eat what you grow. Planting 4 eggplants because you just know you’re family will love them is not a great idea. Ask me how I know. Are you primarily looking for salad? Look at tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers and maybe a zucchini. More of an Italian theme? Think about adding some basil, kale, and an oregano plant (this is perennial, so put it somewhere permanent).
Lastly, source your seeds and plants. You can get virtually everything you need as a seedling. This is great for new gardeners. Many local farms have seedlings for sale, and you can often find them at farmer’s markets as well. Get your seedlings from someone you trust. The plants at the big home improvement stores are often poorly grown and will perform just as poorly in your garden.
If you want to give seeds a go, you’ll save yourself quite a bit of money. A dollar or two will get you enough seeds to last quite a while. While tomatoes, peppers and eggplant need to be planted as seedlings. It is quite easy to start zucchini, cucumbers, beans, peas, carrots, lettuce and many other veggies. I like to order my seeds by mail, but you can get them at a hardware store, farm supply, or anyplace with a garden center.
Some of my favorite places to buy seeds are Baker Creek seeds, Fedco, High Mowing seeds, Johnny’s and Seed Savers Exchange. If you check out any of these seed houses. You’ll notice that most of them are in New England. You will find that seeds that are grown in a similar climate will do better than those that were harvested far away.
Lastly, I’m going to tell you to read. In all honesty, this should come first. I like Square Foot Gardening, as I said above. There are hundreds of books out there. I could list them for days, but instead, I’ll tell you to go to the library. Check out a few books on growing your own veggies. If you find them useful, then go and buy them. Since we all connect with different ways of writing, the library is the best start.
Happy Gardening. Please feel free to ask questions, I’ll happily talk anyone’s ear off about gardening.