Recently I at The Blog Connect Conference that I attended the topic of gardening came up and I got a lot of questions about where to start, what grows in containers and the like. Though these may seem like simple questions with simple answers to me they are so much more. These questions and their answers are important. I think everyone should garden (ahem remember this 1000+ word post?) so I want to take the time to seriously think about and answer these questions.
Starting a garden doesn’t have to be hard or daunting, sometimes all you need is a place to start. So let’s talk about that.
First off what vegetables do you eat? Knowing what foods you like and are willing to actually eat is important because growing a bunch of kale that are going to eat and is just going to go bad is not worth your time.
Next we have to talk about space and set up. Are you in an apartment? Do you have a yard? Can you rent a community growing space? Seriously think about your options here. If all you have is a window sill, be realistic about that, you can still grow things, but it will be on a smaller scale or plants that like shade.
Let’s assume we are designing a garden plan for the typical apartment dweller that only has a window. I would suggest starting with herbs, leaf lettuce or sprouts. All of these things are fairly easy to grow and take up little space, for herbs and leaf lettuce you can buy whole plants or start from seeds. For growing sprouts I suggest this method.
I always like suggest starting with leaf lettuce for first time vegetable gardeners because it grows fast and produces more than one harvest. Meaning you can cut it back for a salad and a few days later it has already grown back. If you eat salads daily or even weekly this is a great place to start. If you want to start eating more salads this is also a great place to start because you want to cut back the lettuce before it goes to see and eat it before it goes bad, so it can be considered a motivator as well (see what I did there?).
Those with a porch or deck space could try adding a tomato plant, snap peas, or green beans. Pole (green) beans are great because they will climb up banisters and pergolas to provide shade as well as beans.
For anyone who has access to a backyard or community growing space I would definitely take advantage of that but remember to start small. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when your garden starts producing. Honestly I think a 4×4 garden which provides you with 16 square feet of gardening space is more than enough for a first timer. The photo below represents a simple garden plan for a first timer using the square foot method.
Remember that the plants in this garden are simply my suggestion. I fully encourage you to switch up the vegetables listed here. Love pesto? Double or even triple the amount of basil plants. Like spinach in your smoothie? Then grow lots of that. Remember grow things you will actually eat.
As far as actually planting the vegetables, you can follow the instructions on the back of the seed packet, or talk to the gardener where you buy your plants for watering, sunlight needs and container size. You can also always email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’m happy to help anyone who is interested in starting to grow their own vegetables.
Like anything else in life starting a garden is a learning experience. It takes trial and error, and not everything is going to work for you the first time around. Stick with it, you will figure it out and it will be infinitely rewarding.
Some of my favorite garden resources: