First thing to do is to decide if you even want to do a medium or large-scale garden. It is easy to talk about the benefits but you also need to keep in mind the extra work. Probably the hardest thing to deal with is weeds and grass. We dug our garden into the grass and keeping the garden area clear is a daily struggle. You will also be using more water, which means a bigger bill. For us the increase was minimal, maybe a few dollars, but that may not be the same everywhere. Of course, a bigger garden also means taking up more room. Our garden takes up about half our backyard. There are also the normal problems such as pest and other things getting in and eating your plants. I don’t say these things to be discouraging; I just think it is important for people to know what they are getting into. If you can stick with it, I think the rewards are more than worth it. One of the best things about our garden this year is that we have been able to replace a good chunk of our grocery shopping with visits to the garden. Money saving aside, there is something very satisfying in making full meals from your garden.
Next, you want to choose a plan of attack. Many people like using large planting boxes that can be found at most hardware stores. These can be a bit on the pricy side; you may want to consider building own yourself. We chose to dig our garden directly into the ground. This of course required a lot of digging, which was made even more difficult by the fact that we still had grass.
Finally, you need to decide what you are going to plant. I talked about this in my last blog so I won’t re-hash the same thing, but you do have more options now. There are many different options available; I will go over what we chose to plant. We took our cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and peppers that we already had in pots as part of our small garden and transferred these into the ground. This allowed these plants to really flourish and grow large compared to how they had been in their pots. We also planted a bunch of new things including two types of peas, cucumber, carrots, squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, watermelon, greens, lettuce and two beefsteak tomato plants. We decided to use all heirloom seeds and plants; you can learn more about that here.
When planting, remember that placement is very important, some plants don’t play well with others. Squash and zucchini in particular tend to like to take over their surroundings so it is best that you give them breathing room. We planted our squash, zucchini, watermelon and cucumber each in their own little areas so they would have room to grow. Tomatoes should also have room to spread out as well as something, like a lattice, to grow on. Peas are another plant that benefit from a lattice of some sort.
Now I would love to sit here and tell you all that the garden worked out perfectly, but I would be lying. While it is true that we have gotten a lot out of our garden it is also true that some of it didn’t work out so well. Not all of the failures are our fault, but some are. I would like to discuss these mistakes with you now in hopes that you can avoid them.
One of our biggest mistakes is also one of the most obvious. We slacked at keeping back the weeds and grass out of the garden.
Despite these mistakes, our garden has survived. We have kept most of the plants alive and had several good harvests.
14 Simple Gardening Tips and Tricks HGTV: http://www.hgtv.com/gardening/14-simple-gardening-tips-and-tricks/index.html
The National Gardening Association: http://www.garden.org/
Gardening: Getting Started: http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2011/4/2/gardening-getting-started.html
Growing a Bountiful Garden in Cold Climates: http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2014/05/06/growing-a-bountiful-garden-in-cold-climates/#.U9APxfldV7s
Information on Heirloom seeds: