With the weather warming up and the sun shining it’s the perfect time to give gardening a go.
Spring has sprung and you’re looking for that next activity after the sourdough bread, the crocheting, and the TikTok dances. Why not chase those quarantine blues away by getting into vegetable gardening?
There’s nothing like growing your own vegetables. You’re having it in its most nutritious and delicious form. You’re saving money. You’re helping the environment. You’re getting some vitamin D. You’re finding a way to de-stress. What could be better?
Though it may seem daunting, here are some simple tips to stretch out your green thumb and start your very own vegetable garden.
1. Grow what you eat, eat what you grow
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of vegetables you can grow. So think about vegetables you like (like actually like) and start from there.
Choose to grow vegetables that you’re going to eat. Don’t like cilantro? Don’t grow cilantro. Always eating tomatoes? Grow tomatoes. Love making salad? Maybe grow some lettuce and onions. But don’t over plant. Grow vegetables that you’ll use and not waste.
Be sure to also check the right time to plant your vegetables. “Warm vegetables” like tomatoes aren’t usually planted until late spring while “cool vegetables” like lettuce or broccoli grow during cooler weather like early spring and fall.
2. Location Location Location (Here Comes the Sun)
If this is your first garden, it’s best if you start small. But whether you’re growing in your backyard, your balcony, or windowsill, make sure there’s enough sunlight.
Most vegetables need at least six to eight hours of sun each day though some cool, leafy vegetables like lettuce and parsley need less. How much sun your garden or balcony gets pretty much determines how successful your crop will be.
Read the seed package to find out how much sunlight and space are required before you commit to a particular vegetable. You wouldn’t want to be disappointed when your tomatoes aren’t growing because they aren’t getting enough of that sweet sunshine.
3. Healthy soil = healthy garden
The heart of your garden is not the seed but the soil. Don’t use soil that is too coarse or doesn’t drain well. Choose soil that is rich in nutrients that contain organic material like compost or manure. Before planting, have your soil rich enough with nutrients from organic matter like composted leaves or grass clippings so your vegetables can have enough to feed on and grow.
4. Water just enough
How much should I water my plants? Though we wish there was a hard rule, it depends.
The rule of thumb is your vegetable garden needs around three to four inches of water a week but not all gardens are made the same. So while outdoor gardens can keep in more water, container and balcony gardens typically dry up quicker which means more frequent watering. A good idea for balcony and rooftop gardens is to have self-watering planters so you can fill the amount of water your plants need for the week and not worry if they’re getting enough water.
A quick way to check if your vegetables need watering is to press your finger an inch into the soil. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water.
5. Keep a watchful eye
Inspect your crop regularly for any pests or insects that might be hanging out with your vegetables. A simple pest control spray recipe with organic ingredients can be found here.
Weeding and pest prevention is a constant process so always be vigilant. You don’t want anything that would get in the way or harm your growing garden.
6. Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour
Don’t wait too long to start harvesting. Generally, vegetables are harvested just before they’re fully mature. Check out a list of vegetable harvesting criteria here.
Once you’ve picked your vegetables, it’s time to liven up your salad, add zest to your pizza, or anything else that’ll take your cooking up a whole ‘nother level. And if you have more than enough why not donate it to your local food bank, send it to a friend or even try pickling!
Ready to get gardening? Guess what? With Avling’s Garden Starter Kit, starting your own garden has never been easier. From seedlings to soil boosters, it’s packed with everything you need to get growing. They’ve even included beer brewed with ingredients from their own rooftop garden to keep you refreshed while you work that soil. Check it out here!
With a vegetable garden, the possibilities are endless.