- What do I want to grow?
- Do I want to buy plants, or start from seed?
- When do I plant?
- How do I plant?
- How often do I water?
- Is that a good bug or a bad bug?
- Is that a weed or one of my seedlings?
Needless to say, I was slightly overwhelmed. Luckily, however, I started small. That first spring, I planted five 4'x4' raised beds. And I tried a wide variety of plants and techniques. Some of the crops I tried were complete and utter failures--so don't be discouraged if this happens to you! Other crops did great.
Gardening is a dynamic process, so you have to be willing to try new things and accept failures before you will find what works for you and your space. Here are a few general tips that I would share with a first-time gardener:
Tips for first-time home vegetable gardeners:
- Start small--Only plant an area that you can manage, remembering that gardening is hard work and requires frequent watering and weeding. A single 4'x4' bed may be plenty for you.
- Plant varieties that do well in your area --Buy seeds from a local seed company, or buy plants from the farmers market. Ask gardener friends what varieties they have had success with, or refer to publications like this blog that describe gardening in your specific region.
- Compost!--If the area you are going to plant has poor soil, it is important that you add compost to amend it. You can either make your own, or buy compost locally.
- Raised beds or hills--Plants do best in rich, loose soil, with plenty of drainage.
- Make it a family project--This way everyone is involved and proud of the garden, and the labor is spread between multiple individuals. Gardening is a great, healthy activity for kids!
- Don't be afraid of failure!--You won't know what works for you and your yard until you try!