Do you have a garden? Have you ever thought of trying out gardening?
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I tried out gardening for the first time in the spring of 2013. We lived in a townhouse with an extremely sunny backyard and I had lots of time on my hands so I decided to try creating a small garden.
My husband helped me build a small raised bed (although it was not technically “raised”). I think it was 6×4?
We just used simple pressure-treated wood to build the border and then dug up the ground and mixed it with garden soil.
I was a little ambitious and wanted to grow all.the.vegetables.
In the end, it ended up working out pretty well. It has been my most successful garden yet, but I think a lot of that has to do with environmental factors. There was amazing sun exposure and we had a fenced in yard so no unwanted visitors were eating my plants.
Both of these are issues that I am having at our current house and that I am hoping to resolve this year.
How do I start a garden?
It is SO easy! First, you need to decide if you are going to try out container gardening or build yourself a full-out garden in the ground.
If you have a small space (or no space) and are nervous about growing things, then I suggest trying out container gardening. You can use any medium to large pot and plant your vegetables or herbs right in it and place it in a sunny spot on a deck or porch.
If you have a yard or are interested in creating a more long-term solution, creating a raised bed is not too hard or expensive. You can make one big one, one small one, or a couple of different sized ones if you are going all out. You can use pressure-treated wood, old railroad ties, cinder blocks, etc. The possibilities are endless – you really just need something to create a border.
And in all honesty, I know people who have no borders at all – they just dig up a patch of earth, mix in some nutrient-rich garden soil, and plant away!
Just make sure that your garden is in the sunniest spot in your yard because many vegetables really do need lots and lots of sun (ask me how I know…).
What are some good vegetables and herbs to start with?
After you have figured out where your garden is going to go and how big it is going to be, next you want to decide what you want to grow.
When deciding what you want to grow, I would first make a list of all the fresh produce you buy the most. If you can substitute those purchases at the grocery store with the awesomeness from your garden, then you will be able to shave some money off your grocery bill.
I have not tried growing any fruits, but it is definitely something on my list of to-dos. I think I am going to wait until we have a sunnier yard some day!
Next, do a little research about how much space each item needs to grow well. I decided to follow the “walk through the nursery and grab anything that seemed appealing” method, and while it worked out okay, in the end, I definitely over-crowded my little garden the first time.
I ended up growing many of the things vertically to account for the lack of space. This, of course, is a method that can be used if you truly want to grow more than you have room for, but just be sure to be prepared for that!
The vegetables I have tried that have done well are:
- banana peppers
The first three are items we buy a lot of in the summer and the peppers are for my husband. I have also tried green and red bell peppers, eggplant, and pumpkin, with not much success. Last year I learned my lesson about expecting too much from my partially shaded garden and decided to try out some lettuce and broccoli. They were both eaten by the deer! The broccoli looked very promising, though. I am going to attempt that again, along with some other shade-friendly vegetables this year:
- bush beans
- brussel sprouts
Those are all on my wish list, but we shall see how it goes.
My current garden is 12×12 so I have lots of room to play with. I have also decided to do some container gardening again and put some tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers on my front walkway which gets tons of sun during the day. It is going to be a little weird having potted vegetables leading to my front door, but oh well!
I have also successfully grown some herbs. I bought a huge pot of a mix of herbs the first year and the majority of them have come back (in the pot) each year.
Some easy to grow herbs are basil, cilantro, chives, oregano, and rosemary. You really just have to keep up with the harvesting of these herbs, but otherwise, they grow pretty easily.
Herbs are also great for just decoration and some of them keep the bugs down.
My big goal this year is to not just harvest the herbs and use them fresh but to dry them and store them for the entire year! Herbs and spices are expensive!
How time-consuming is gardening?
Maintenance and care for a garden are definitely a daily chore. Most days you will need to water your garden every day.
Once things start really growing, you will need to harvest your vegetables and herbs and keep weeds down around your plants.
These activities in themselves do not take much time, though.
Plan on going out early in the morning or later in the evening to water and maintain your garden. You don’t want to be watering when the sun is in full swing.
If you are going on vacation, try and find someone who will come water your plants at least every other day.
And finally, how expensive is gardening?
I think I usually spend around $30-$40 to buy seedlings for my garden each year. And if you really do your research and don’t go overboard like me, you will probably spend even less. As for the upfront investment, there are a few things that you will need on hand to start gardening (at the very least).
- A way to water your garden (watering pail, hose, rainwater bucket)
- Gardening soil
- Shovel or trowel to help plant your garden
- Containers or pots if you are container gardening (use old ones if you already have them!)
- Tomato cages and/or trellises if you plan on doing vertical gardening
- Border material if you are making a raised bed
- Pruning shears to keep your plants healthy and harvest some of your vegetables and herbs
- Gardening gloves (not necessary, but I like having them)
Most of these items are fairly inexpensive and can be used year after year so the up-front cost is really the biggest cost.
The most expensive part would probably be the soil each year and building raised beds. But you can get creative with the materials for the raised beds.
Most of learning how to garden is trial and error, but there are tons of resources you can find (just look on Pinterest!). It is a fairly cheap and relaxing hobby.
There are tons of different ideas and methods to try out, and the best part is that you get to start over each season!
Are you going to have a garden this year? Does anyone have any good tips for keeping away the deer?
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