General Question

jlm11f's avatar

How do I go about planting my own vegetable garden?

Asked by jlm11f (12393points) April 12th, 2010

I should preface the sub questions by saying that I am absolutely and completely inept when it comes to manual labor. I have no knowledge about gardening or anything of the like really. If you used to go to the older chat room, you remember my “What’s a plunger?” days. That said, I’m an open book and eager to learn and create something new. I get excited when I can say “I did this!!” just like a four year old, so if your advice is feasible (for my strength, time, money), I will definitely try it.

a)What supplies do I need? Give me the bare minimum, anything that I can substitute with other more common tools, I would like to do that. After all, I’m bad at finishing projects I start, there, I said it and so I want to see how long this goes before I go crazy with the purchases. Additionally, I am on a student income.

b)I live in Ohio. The weather is horrible. How does this impact my gardening?

c)What should I start out with? Is there something that’s “easier” to grow or should I just figure out what’s in season and start with that?

d)Where do I buy supplies? Is buying stuff from big companies like Lowe’s a no-no? If so, where else do I go?

e)Is there a site specific to beginner gardeners that I should look at and follow?

f)Just how much time and TLC (tender love and care) am I looking at here?

g)Honestly, this is all I know about gardening: dig, add seeds, add water, and hopefully it all grows in my instant gratification world, it would all be grown and pretty by the next day…ha!, so the point is that any advice that is more specific than that will be helpful! If you know of a book that’s particularly amazing, feel free to recommend it, but I don’t have much time for that, unless it’s a quick Rule book.

Thank you for reading through all that and for your time :)

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21 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Here is one quick start guide that follows a specific method (Square Foot Gardening) that was designed to take a good bit of the drudgery out of gardening. I tried it last year and failed to stay with it, but it really is about as simple as one can get.

kevbo's avatar

I should add that I think I spent maybe $150 on supplies, but I think you can do it for less now that the process is a little more streamlined (also, I bought more soil materials than I really needed).

WestRiverrat's avatar

Starting with a flower pot garden will make it a little easier. And you can move them indoors if you have room. You can do add peppers to the tomatoes and you have most of what you need to make a great picante sauce.

faye's avatar

You were right, dig, add seeds, add water! You need to have your plot rototilled. You need a hoe and easy plants like beets, carrots, potatoes, turnips and peas. For peas you need something for them to grow upward on. I use chicken wire and 2 stakes hammered into the ground. Lettue and spinach are great, too, i didn’t plant enough spinach last year, And swiss chard will grow anywhere and keep growing until buried with snow. Don’t worry what anyone says about seed depth- mine all go in about 11/2 to 2 inches except lettuce-½ in for that. A great treat is corn on the cob, buy a kind that is ready in 65 days, soak it overnight and plant. It needs to be in double or more rows. No need to pull up the whole plant for spinach, chard, and lettuce. Pick a few leaves off each plant for a meal and they’ll keep growing. I live in central Alberta- I’ve seen snow every month of the year! I had great corn last year. Oh, you use the hoe to make a little trench for the seeds and then for weeds and more weeds.

jazmina88's avatar

try tomatoes…..or anything you really live. I mulch my veggies, it saves on weeding. Container gardening rocks. It keeps critters at bay. I love squash.

Herb gardens are nice to start. They can be forgiving when you dont water.

OHIO not so bad. use some miracle grow.

maintenance time – watering – weedin and fertilizing
I have a feelin it will be hot and dry this summer, if it like this spring. water every night if it is dry. or early morning is better. just never mid day.

susanc's avatar

I believe you need a big long-handled garden fork, the kind you can put your foot on to push it into the ground, unless you’re going to do the flowerpot garden. But you do have to have something to dig/break up soil with.
You can get some serviceable inexpensive tools at any hardware store, and in a few years replace them with excellent ones – you already know great tools are very satisfying. In my opinion you don’t need to fertilize, but if you could make a compost pile you’ll generate great amendments to whatever soil you have.
I would add green beans to faye’s list and eat them when they’re very young. You need wire and stakes for them too.
Gosh I want to come over there and just do it with you for a couple of days. It’s partly in the hands… and speaking of hands, get some rubbery-palmed gardening gloves, and some Epsom salts, because you’re gonna get some good aches.
Potatoes are a great idea, really easy – and fresh potatoes are nothing like potatoes that have traveled. And grow some basil…

jazmina88's avatar

I plant before RAIN….. dont go hog wild this year…..try a small patch and add new stuff every year.

I spend $150 or so…I use my trowel and tryin berries and melons. so I need a hoe.
I buy a ton of flowers in that cost. I buy veggie seedlings for under a dollar a plant.

thriftymaid's avatar

Buy a book for your region. Trying a box garden may be a good first step.

partyparty's avatar

Start off with a herb garden. Plant the seeds on a windowsill, wait until they start to develop, then plant them outside (weather permitting) in a large pot. Water and feed them regularly.
You can pick them whenever are cooking, so a double bonus.

Jewel's avatar

Tomatoes in largish pots.
Easy, relatively fast growing and sun warmed fresh tomatoes are incredibly delicious! No tools required. Just a pot, soil, a plant and some miracle grow.
Except they need to be ‘staked’, or have a cage for support. You can buy your plants and supplies just about anywhere. Ask neighbors. They will know which place has the best and cheapest.
Above all, have fun!

sdeutsch's avatar

I second @partyparty‘s suggestion – start with herbs. They’re easy to plant if you want to start from seeds, or you can buy little pots of herbs from your local hardware store or farmer’s market, and practice taking care of them before you try starting from scratch. I’m a terrible gardener too, so I speak from experience! Basil is super-easy to grow – they sprout quickly from seeds to give you that instant gratification you want! and they’re pretty hard to kill once they’re growing.

If you want to do veggies, tomatoes and peppers are probably the easiest – and as long as you’ve got a spot that gets lots of sun, you shouldn’t have any trouble growing them in Ohio (I’m in PA, and they grow fine here). Again, if you don’t want to try from seeds right away, it’s easy to find small tomato plants at a local store. You can always start from seeds next year, when you’re a little more confident in your gardening skills…

Good luck!

phillis's avatar

Till up a small patch of soil from your intended planting area with a hand spade or something similar. Get a jar and put a sample of the soil into it, then take t over to your county extension office for a free analysis. If you don’t have said extension office, go to a hardware store and buy your own soil testing kit. They give nice, clear directions on the box. That will tell you whether you need 10–10-10, 10–30-10, etc.

There are fantastic websites that have temperate zones for developed countries. One state can have as many as 5 temperate zones, so just looking for a single zone for your state isn’t enough. Planting times, harvesting, and the plants themselves are affected by these climates.

If you’re planning on using pesticides, know your pests! Many all-purpose pesticides, such as Sevin Dust, won’t protect from certain pests despite what is on the label. Along those same lines, plant marigolds along the border! The scent of Marigolds are a deterrent to deer, rabbits, and other nibblers who are all too happy to nip your plants right to the ground. They think you planted those things just for them :)

partyparty's avatar

@sdeutsch Thanks for the comment. I am in the UK and am able to grow herbs successfully – despite the weather. As you suggest – tomatoes and peppers are a good idea.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

We grow organic vegetables commercially. As a start, I would recommend either growing in pots or boxes, maybe raised beds as the next stage. Some good authors in this area are Eliot Coleman, Ruth Stout and the Nearings. Pots and raised beds allow to to control soil and moisture conditions exactly. Before getting into tilled-land gardening, buy a good soil test kit so that you will know what amendments will be necessary. Where our farm is (Northern New England), our soil is thin, rocky and acid. Initially, a great deal of lime was needed, but with compost added to the soil, the pH has come up. Trace minerals can be crucial to many vegetables. Your county extension service can direct you where to get the detailed analysis. Initial easy to grow items are tomatoes, peppers, raddishes, herbs. You can grow potatoes in a drum, just keep adding soil as the plant grows; tip the drum over at the end of the season and you will be amazed how much you have. As for tools, buy good quality, you should be able to start for less than $100. Yard sales will yield better tools than the trash sold in the “big box” stores. Once the gardening bug bites, the sky is the limit. We have hundreds of thousands invested in equipment, but we’re a commercial operation. PM me with any specific questions on plants, pests or techniques.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I’ve also been considering doing a garden. A big problem I forsee is where I live, there is at least 1 family of 5 ground hogs, and many many deer. What can i do to prevent them from eating anything I grow?

aside from sitting outside all day with a rifle that is lol

jlm11f's avatar

Thank you to everyone for your helpful answers so far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I decided to play it safe and start with herbs like many of you suggested. I went to Home Depot today, spoke to one of the people there and bought 2 rosemary pots to plant. He told me rosemary is a great start since it is really hard to kill. He told me to just start with that since the weather is still kind of cool and rosemary can handle that but other herbs like basil cannot. I brought the pots home and planted them in some pots filled with soil. I watered them thoroughly as the site suggested. Now I don’t know how often I have to water it though. The site doesn’t indicate and the associate said once/day but then another man said alternate days. Anyway, that’s the update so far. I know it’s not much, but it’s still something and it felt good to get started :)

WestRiverrat's avatar

Get some of the watering bulbs. You can fill one and put it near the plants and the plants will take what they need. Then you just have to refill them when they get empty.

phillis's avatar

Watering instructions should be on the herb packages, PnL. If they aren’t, simply look up watering requirements for rosemary online. I would do it for you, but I don’t understand how to place a link here. It is unusual not to have simple watering instructions on the packaging. Take into consideration the level of humidity and heat in your house so that you don’t over/under water the plants.

livnonthedge's avatar

Cheapest and best way to learn how to develop your green thumb: Coffee can or produce containers (like the one you get when you buy a package of mushrooms). Poke a few holes on the bottom. Hit the dollar store for some potting soil (or any discount store). Save the seeds from fruits/veggies you eat (avoid exotic ones that require a lot of sun and heat throughout the year, like avocado). Spread out seeds evenly. It helps to moisten them in a napkin beforehand. It is best to experiment and learn the process in steps and then go onto spending mucho dinero on supplies. I did it with garlic. Fun project. Oh yeah..melon seeds and peas are easy to grow. Avoid overwatering.

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