A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables

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A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables
By Olive Dawson

If all the enticing produce at the market has you feeling inspired to take healthy living to the next level by growing your own, we’re not surprised. Everyone knows that fresh fruits and vegetables taste better. The trouble is knowing where to begin. Whether you’ve got a few houseplants under your belt or are a total newbie, here’s a beginner’s guide to growing your own vegetable garden.

Start Small
A vegetable garden can be hard work, so starting on a manageable scale will make it far more likely you will succeed. To get started, you only need a few basic tools and a place to plant. Many folks find that starting with a raised bed is the easiest way to get started. There are many prefabricated raised beds on the market to choose from. You can also start in containers on your patio if you don’t have much yard space. But remember, the larger the container, the happier the plants will be.
Curate Carefully

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Spend a little time considering your veggie priorities. If you can’t seem to finish your salad greens before they get slimy, you may want to limit your lettuce to a little patch you can pluck from as you need. Maybe you just can’t get enough tomatoes, or you have a hankering for some specialty vegetables you can’t find in the market.

Location, Location, Location
The factor that will make or break your garden is its location. Find a spot that receives morning sun and gets at least eight hours of direct sun every day. If your soil is hard-packed, you’ll want to break it up or at least aerate a bit. Aerating lawns and gardens provide similar benefits. By poking holes in the soil, you allow vital growing components such as oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the plants.
Feed the Soil

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In addition to aerating the top few inches of soil, you may want to add compost to increase the organic matter your plants will feed off of. Usually, top-dressing the soil with an inch of compost is sufficient. If you’re growing in containers, use organic potting soil.
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Many plants, such as peppers and tomatoes, can be challenging to begin from seeds and are best purchased as starter plants. You’ll find starters in the spring in the market, right around the ideal time for planting. Otherwise, check out some of the seed catalogs available for unusual organic heirloom seed varieties. You’ll have a great time shopping and will end up growing plants you can’t find anywhere else.

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Develop a Routine

If you’re new to gardening, this won’t be difficult. Make your garden a part of your daily routine. This way, you can observe any changes in your plants for better or worse. If you get an insect infestation, early detection will make it easy to beat. If your plants are thirsty or nutrient deficient, they’ll let you know with drooping or discolored leaves. Most gardeners find the time they spend with their plants — watering, and pulling weeds — among the most enjoyable parts of their day.

Growing your own vegetable garden will give you a new appreciation for the fruits and vegetables you buy. Don’t get discouraged if your first harvest isn’t amazing; gardening takes practice. The market is always here for you, and once you’ve tried your hand at gardening, you’ll probably find yourself supporting your local farmers more passionately than ever before.

Olive Dawson is a gardening and landscape writer for Wikilawn Phoenix and environmentalist. She is always searching for new ways to reduce waste and grow food organically.

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