Living in the generation post-Martha Stewart and residing in the middle of a city with abundant farmers markets, there wasn’t incentive for me to ever learn how to sow and harvest my own produce.
However, I finally have an opportunity to grow a garden in raised beds, so I’m trying to chat up every gardener I know to gather facts for a beginner. Some of these tips surprised me – did you know lavender is a natural pest controller?
These are the most intriguing lessons I’ve learned thus far, so read on if you’ve got basic questions about getting into gardening for the first time.
Your Number One Concern: Your Soil’s Health
If the soil in your garden is healthy, then nature will meet you the other half of the way to produce tasty fruits and vegetables. As a gardener, having mineral-rich, moist soil should be your top priority.
Opt For Heirloom Seeds
When we go to the grocery store, there is usually only one type of basil, a few types of tomatoes, etc., but in reality, there are infinite varietals of fruits and veggies for your taste buds to discover.
Consider working with a seed savers exchange to plant heirloom varietals of basil, tomatoes, corn, etc. You’ll be amazed by the vast range of scents, flavors, and textures, plus you’ll be doing the planet good by increasing biodiversity.
Start With Easy Seeds
Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and beets are the easiest veggies to grow first. They are as close to foolproof as gardening gets.
Purslane Is a Weed!
Purslane, a spinach-like green often used in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, is actually a weed! However, it’s a tasty weed that can be easily incorporated into salads, juiced, or used to garnish dishes. You’ll often see it at the farmers market on the cheap.
Set Up a Seedlings Station
Squirrels and other pests may dig up and eat seeds before they have a chance to germinate. That’s why it’s important to plant seed starters. Tomatoes, basil, and nasturtium are the easiest to “start.”
How to Conserve Water
Especially during the Summer when droughts are almost a given, many farmers and gardeners are working with deep root irrigation. This system sends the water directly to the roots so no surface water is lost to evaporation.
The benefits? You’ll end up using only a fourth the amount of water you typically would, and by feeding the roots only, it prevents weeds from growing on the surface of the soil.