So you want to start a garden? Perfect! First thing you need to do is choose a site. Which spot is best, you wonder? One with plenty of sun. I learned from my container experiment that sun really does make a difference. I thought it was just, you know, plenty of sun and water is a good idea, but it’s actually necessary. My carrots placed in part sun never grew to any respectable size, while my carrots in full sun did great.
Now, plants in full sun require more attention, mind you, because if you don’t provide the proper amount of water they will wilt, burn back and DIE. Trust me, that’s a depressing day. When you’ve invested all this effort, but missed a measly few days of watering – because your schedule’s busy, and this gardening thing hasn’t quite become a habit – it’s a sad day. You may even consider giving up.
But don’t. The payoff is big. Not only in delicious, healthy fresh veggies, but in personal satisfaction. There’s an amazing sense of pride gained from growing your own vegetables, so mark your spot, make sure it’s sunny and warm, then choose the right soil – one that’s dense and holds moisture well. It will be a friend to your plants and your maintenance schedule. If you have sprinklers, all the easier. If not, don’t worry. Depending on where you live and what you’re growing, watering doesn’t necessarily denote hassle. As long as you water deeply and mulch around the base of each plant, you’ll find the requirements on your time minimal.
So now that you have your spot, and your soil, you need fertilizer. I’ve become quite ambitious and decided to go all organic, which is a pain in the bazooka, but we all have to have a goal, right? (Not to mention issues!) But once you go from a career woman with hard line quotas and tangible rewards, to stay at home mom with kids and a husband and…
Well, need I say more? Success in any form becomes motivating in and of itself. So choose your fertilizer according to your ambition level, make sure it meets the basic needs of your particular plants, ie. nitrogen, phosphorus potassium, etc. and remember, plants are like people: they need food AND water and regular doses of both. Of course the easiest way to accomplish this is to buy the pre-mixed type and available in formulations for the organic garden.
What to plant begins first with what you like to eat, and second, where you live and what you can grow. I’m in Central Florida, so I actually have two main growing seasons, along with “filler” plants which take me year round, like sweet potatoes and peanuts. But most plants will start in spring, others in fall. If you’re one of my Arctic Amigos – anyone living north of the Florida/Georgia border – check with your local garden center and they can provide you a list of seasonal appropriate plants. Or check the internet. You’ll find more about plants than you dreamed possible!