General Question

Mama_Cakes's avatar

This'll be my first year putting in a vegetable garden. Any tips?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9315 points ) February 25th, 2013

Zone 5

Just some tips on when to start planting, soil mixtures and easy veggies to start with. Thanks!

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10 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Choose a sunny spot to garden in. I’ve never had a sunny spot. In early years, I tried growing things, and none of them survived. Finally I figured this out. Sun is crucial. Full sun.

Water is also important. Not too much and not too little. However the specifics of what is too much and too little is different depending on where you are.

Start planting when the seed packets say to. Or start the plants indoors to get a head start. Your neighbors will provide the best advice on timing.

marinelife's avatar

Start your seeds indoors and then transplant.

Check your soil’s PH balance and amend as necessary.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I usually buy prestarted tomato and pepper plants. Don’t plant something you don’t want to eat, makes no sense to grow bushells of zuchini if you won’t eat it.

bkcunningham's avatar

I would recommend planting in containers with good drainage. Buy good potting soil. You can move the containers until you learn what areas on your property are the best for the plants. Plant what you like to eat.

bossob's avatar

My most important advice is to have the right attitude. Start your first year with this idea: ‘I’m going to stick some seeds in the ground and see what happens’. Don’t put pressure on yourself to attain some self-defined objective such as yield. Make your first year fun; it should be all about observing and learning. Some stuff will grow well and some won’t; get used to the idea. As a gardener, I have done everything correctly yet got lousy harvests; I have done everything wrong and got a bountiful harvest. We can’t control everything. You might as well know up front that gardening teaches patience and humility, so embrace them. Learn to appreciate what your garden gives you, when it gives it to you.

Gardening zones have little relevance for annual vegetables grown in non-winter months. You want to find out your first and last frost dates. Here is one place to find them. Your last frost date gives you an idea when you can reasonably safely start planting cool weather plants. Try some seeds and some nursery transplants. Seed packages and plant tags will have suggested planting times relative to your last frost date.

Find some neighbors who garden so you can pick their brains about when they plant and what grows well for them. Weather, diseases, and pests vary tremendously from region to region.

As for soil, I’m a proponent of making one’s own and putting it in raised boxes ala Square Foot Gardening. If you want to use your existing soil, you have to decide whether to use chemicals or go organic, and proceed accordingly. UMass has a low price and quick turnaround time to get your existing soil tested so you will know what you’re starting with.

My first year of veggie gardening, I just dumped some compost on top of the ground and planted in that. Stuff grew! And I was hooked. Last year I grew 90% of our vegetables, for the year.

Happy gardening.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Start small, learn from locals what grows good. And don’t put anything out early that could get frosted. Good luck and enjoy the tomatoes and other veggies.

Bellatrix's avatar

What about seeing if there are any neighbourhood gardening groups, community gardens or allotments. It would probably be helpful to talk to ‘gardeners’ in your area.

venusPdiaz's avatar

Dig in as much well-rotted manure as you can get your hands on!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Planting marigolds around the border will help with insect control on a limited basis.

venusPdiaz's avatar

The carrot is far superior to the marigold – quote from Withnail and I by Uncle Monty acted by Richard Griffiths – v funny

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