First-time gardeners – it’s time to prepare that plot of dirt for your garden if you haven’t already! Of course it depends upon where you live as well. In the South, you’re behind already if you haven’t started working the soil. In the colder, more northern climates you need to wait until things are thawed out and the dirt can be worked easily. Below are a few things to look for when planting your garden:
1) Choose a sunny location. Most vegetables require full sun to grow. A few leafy plants may do okay in the shade, but for the most part, they need full sun to produce.
2) Open ground or raised beds? I put in my first raised beds this year, and I absolutely love them! They’re much easier to work and the plants seem to be doing a lot better than when I planted long rows of vegetables.
3) Prepare the soil. You might want to take a soil sample to your county extension agent and let him tell you what kind of nutrients you need for your first garden. After that, look into composting and adding nutrients naturally to the soil. Remember, too much fertilizer on tender plants can burn them up. With fertilizer, more is NOT better!
4) Plan your crop layout. Plant your crops with the position of the sun in mind. You don’t want to overshadow low growing plants with taller ones. Choose the types of vegetables you want to grow that fare well in your climate.
5) You have to walk before you can run. Don’t try to immediately start a commercial operation if you’ve never planted a pea in your life! Not only does each type of vegetable have its own little idiosyncrasy that you have to learn, but gardening is hard work (although well worth it!). Choose five or six vegetables to start out with, and then grow from there.
Don’t forget to take advantage of others’ experience if you can. Contact your county agent. Pick up literature from your extension service office about vegetable gardens and preserving food. Talk with other gardeners and see if they won’t share their secrets with you. Pretty soon you’ll be gardening like a pro!