Ever thought about starting a garden? Something about gardening makes everything in my heart happy—the smell of the dirt, the excitement of watching a tiny plant pop up, the delicious flavor of the harvest. I just dig it. (Pun intended, haha.) I know some gardening beginners are a bit scared to start, and I’d like to throw out a couple of tips that might help as you plan your garden this spring.
- Only plant things that you and your family will actually eat. Or might learn to eat. Planting something just because someone else suggests you should or you think you should is pointless and you will probably end up wasting it.
- Plant things that you can preserve if necessary. I do plant regular cucumbers because my kids love them and will eat them as fast as they can produce, but pickling cucumbers make more sense because I can save them for later with pickling. Most things can be frozen (tomatoes, kale, squash, spinach, carrots, etc) so that makes it easy. I don’t plant a ton of lettuce though because we won’t be able to eat it fast enough and there isn’t much of a way to preserve lettuce.
- Try something new each year. I have made it my goal to try a new plant each year, but not more than one. If it fails, at least I have my other stand-by’s to make me feel the whole growing season wasn’t a waste, and I won’t do it again next year. Or I’ll try to learn more about it next year before I try it again.
- Make use of the wisdom you’ve got around you. One of my friends has taken the Master Gardener class here in Denver and she helps people who call in with garden problems. I, of course, can just text her and she will research the issue until we resolve it. You probably have something similar with the Agricultural office in your area. They can help you know when to plant things, what to do about bugs and disease and why your plant might not be doing well. Or find a friend who already gardens well and ask them.
- Make it automatic. Watering is key to garden survival and the only way mine survives is by having a drip system. I order from dripworks.com and can irrigate all my beds for a one-time price of about $100. I get a timer to put on the hose bib and my garden is watered every night by drip system, and I actually get veggies!
- Make it work for you. If you have only a small area, find plants that can be grown in pots. I’d start with tomatoes, kale and maybe some herbs like basil or cilantro. I swear kale will grow anywhere and through anything in the Colorado climate. I tell people if the world ever goes crazy, I’m planting a ridiculous amount of kale to support the family’s food needs.
- Trial and error is ok! Just get in there and start somewhere. You might actually find that you love it. Gardening is my therapy—it helps me clear my head and feel fulfilled when I see lovely bowls of produce I can bring in and cook.
Hope you will try a garden this year, or plan some new things in your current one!