I love gardening more than most anything. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat. I sometimes annoy my friends with incessant jabbering about my veggies. Whew! Glad I got that off my chest!
Another thing I need to get off my chest is that I am not a fancy gardener. You will probably never go in my back yard and find a perfectly manicured, weed free environment. Sometimes I water too much because I forgot and left the sprinkler on for 6 hours. Last year, I didn’t properly stake my tomatoes and they took over the garden. I also planted too many cantaloupe seeds last year and this year we’re finding cantaloupe plants popping up in the yard. That will happen when you over plant and cantaloupe burst in the garden. Don’t do that. Somehow, in spite of myself, I always have these amazing harvests. I shake my head and think how in the world did that happen? I watered too much/too little, didn’t pluck weeds, didn’t put down mulch, didn’t fertilize, etc. Well, you get my point.
I bet you're asking, “How can I start my own fabulous garden so I can blab to all of my friends non-stop and make them hate me too?” Oh, wait, I meant “so that my friends will all love me for sharing my produce with them?”
Here’s what I do: I get my husband to till up the garden spots (he's good with a tiller), I have my children rake out the grass and weeds (they're not so good with a rake, but they like it) and then we all get to do the fun stuff, planting, watering and harvesting. It’s really as simple as that. We have room for your typical in-ground garden set up, but even if all you have is a small space, you can garden in containers on your patio.
When you’re starting off, a little research into what veggies will grow in your area would be helpful. You don’t want to be planting cool weather crops in the middle of the Summer if you live on the surface of the Sun like I do, uh, I mean Oklahoma.
Cool weather crops include things like potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce to name a few. Your warmer season crops will be things like corn, tomatoes, most melons and some types of squash, among others. In addition to knowing what veggies grow well in your area, a planting time table is essential. Last year, I tried my hand at planting potatoes for the first time and got that all wrong.
We put them in the ground in May and by the end of the Summer, I couldn’t figure out why there were no potatoes. It was simple. I planted them too late. Potatoes don’t tolerate heat all that well. This year, I planted potatoes in early April and that one month made all the difference.
Just this week, we harvested the first crop of potatoes, all 13½ pounds worth. Potato season is winding down, so we’ll get back out there in the next few weeks and harvest the rest. A wonderful site that has helped me determine the best planting times for seeds and plants in my area is the good old Farmer’s Almanac website. You can plug in your city and find the best times. You can find that information here: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/
If you’re intimidated by the thought of a large garden, why not try your hand at container gardening? I have a few of those because my yard just isn’t big enough for all of the things I’d like to grow. Most home and garden stores will have those big 5 gallon plastic buckets with handles.
That’s perfect for container gardening once you drill a few holes in the bottom for water drainage. Grab a bag of high quality gardening soil, a plant or two and take it home and get busy. Even though I’m not a fancy gardener, I am going to recommend that you don’t skimp on the soil.
I speak from experience here. I had some strawberries that didn’t make it this year because I just grabbed what the garden store had on sale and didn’t check around for the better stuff. I'm convinced that bargain potting soil isn't such a bargain. That stuff is the equivalent of the leftovers at the back of the fridge that no one wants. Yuck!
It’s not too late to get started on your garden in most areas of the country. Get that ground tilled up or container ready and go plant something!