Photos and article by Donna Iverson
This spring, more people are taking to gardening than ever before, ....not since the WWI Victory Gardens of a hundred years ago, which was also during a pandemic. So if you are itching to get your hands in the dirt, where do you start?
1. Grow something you love Before retiring, I worked in a public school elementary school library. My greatest challenge and pleasure was finding a book for a student who didn’t like to read. That book which caught their interest, led to more books often on the same subject or in the same genre. Same principle applies with gardening. What is your favorite vegetable or vegetables?
2. Plant vegetables that are easy to grow. If you are a beginner, four of the easiest vegetables to grow are tomatoes, radishes, lettuce and green beans. The later three vegetables can be grown from seeds, but tomato plants are best purchased at your local garden store or farmers market.
3. Start small. Consider a few pots of tomatoes or a planter of herbs outside your back door, or on your deck or patio. Maybe next year, you can expand your efforts to a raised bed and if you get truly hooked on gardening, digging up part of the backyard for a more traditional garden space.
4. Find a sunny location. Vegetables need a lot of sun, the more the better. Four hours of sun is about the minimum. So maybe you will have to locate those tomato plants by the front door and not the back door. If so, you will be joining a growing trend of turning front lawns into garden space.
5. Soil and water. You will need good soil for healthy growth. A good mix is half dirt from your yard mixed equally with compost bought from the garden center. Eventually, as your gardening skills grow, you can create your own compost pile using grass cuttings, leaves and kitchen scraps. As for watering, let the plants dry out before watering and place your pots or planters near an easy-to-reach water supply. A watering can is always a plus, although an empty milk jug will suffice.
These are the basics ..plants or seeds, soil, sun and water and something to put them in. If you use a container recycled from home, like large empty coffee cans, make sure there are holes in the bottom for drainage.
Finally a word on kits. If all this still sounds intimidating but you want to make a start, consider buying a gardening kit sold at garden centers and even grocery stores. Your purchase comes with containers, soil, and seeds. You plant the seeds, add water and set in a sunny location, even a windowsill. Almost failure proof.