Sam and I have been inspired to start a vegetable garden. We recently watched the documentary series called "The Human Longevity Project" and feel that having our own garden will benefit our growing family. Tending to a garden has as much value as eating from one; much can be learned when growing vegetables. We may wait until we move again, which likely won't happen for another few years, but for now, we will learn as much as we can about growing and nurturing a garden.
A garden is a beautiful thing, especially during the pleasant spring months. A garden is a wonderful place to relax and learn; it’s a place where you can immerse yourself in nature. It's rewarding to watch the bees buzz innocently in the long bloomers as they work hard to keep the planet alive.
All of the senses come alive while tending to a garden: the birds sing, the wind rustles the leaves of surrounding trees, the ripe tomatoes smell and taste deliciously sweet. The garden becomes a source of fresh and nutritious produce if we give it the love and care that it needs.
Visit the Farmer's Market
The only experience we have at this point is growing herbs. While living in Texas we often grew rosemary, cilantro, and basil. They were all planted in pots, and were easy to care for. Beginning this weekend we will visit the local farmer's market and engage in dialogue with the farmers. At farmer's markets we are able to ask the farmers specific questions about specific vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Several of them provide helpful workshops as well.
Instead of purchasing a variety of plants, we'd rather take the time to learn about each plant, and also become better at creating delicious and nutritious dishes with specific veggies, a few at a time. The produce that we purchase at the store is slowly killing us, and we are able to receive far greater nutrition from locally purchased produce, organic produce, or produce that we grow ourselves.
We expect that once we begin to plant our first garden we will make several rookie errors. And we also expect that gardening will be frustrating, as many factors are involved in yielding a healthy bounty (especially the first few years).
Learn About the Soil
The soil composition of your garden can be extremely prohibitive, depending on its makeup, levels of clay and sand and pH balance. We have been told that the soil here in northern Colorado is quite challenging. We may need to enlist the aid of a maintenance company to help with the proper irrigation or aeration of our soil. It's worth investing in nurturing a healthy, rich soil.
The perfect pH for vegetable growth is between 6 and 6.8. Vegetables are a little fussier than the plants we grow simply for their beautiful appearances. When the pH balance is wrong it yields anemic plants that are unable to produce robust and delicious vegetables and fruits.
Choose a Spot
Part of the reason we're also hesitant to plant a garden, is we just aren't quite sure where one would thrive in our yard. Vegetable plants are far fussier in terms of their requirements for sunlight and water. Fruiting vegetables need a minimum of 6-8 hours of sunlight each and everyday to grow optimally while root vegetables can get by on 4-6 hours a day. Green leafy veggies are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and they can do well in lightly shaded areas.
Plant At the Right Time
While some vegetables do okay in newly thawed soil, other plants require warmer climes in order to grow and yield properly. Tomatoes in particular love heat which is why you may not get the best results unless you have a greenhouse. If you grow lettuce, however, it’s important to remember that too much heat can make the leaves perish or become very bitter to taste.
Certain vegetables grow better during various seasons, and our bodies are tuned into these preferences. Planting at the right time will not only yield delicious veggies, but eating veggies and fruits during their dominant season is best for our health.
Give Love and Care
Garden plants typically require large amounts of space, they need to be watered regularly, they need to be weeded regularly, and kept away from pests both small and large. Vegetable growing is extremely rewarding and can be quite labor intensive. Under-watering can lead to impaired transmission of nutrients throughout the plant while overwatering can lead to root rot. Moreover, many vegetable plants are creepers and will require a strong framework upon which they can grow.
Keep your vegetables well watered (irregular deep watering is better than regular shallow watering), ensure that they have space, sunlight and nutrient rich soil with which to grow and they’ll continue to reward you for years.
Whenever we decide to start our garden we hope to share our process here on our blog. Please share, what are your best gardening tips for beginners?
*This is a collaborative post.