Gardening 101

As you probably guessed, I’m excited about my garden.  I can’t help myself. Growing things, and not killing them like I normally do, is very addictive! My mom has  the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen. Her yard is gorgeous. My grandmother also had a gorgeous yard.  I don’t know where things went wrong, but certainly I did not inherit these gardening genes! I’m trying, though. I figure it’s kind of like cooking – the more you do it, the better you get at it! My husband got industrious and built our raised bed and that lit the fire. We have committed to gardening organically and so far, it’s going well!

Someone asked how we got started with our garden this year, so I wanted to share a few products we have used and a few websites that have been valuable in our adventures.

Product Lineup:

When we filled the planter box, we used compost from our compost pile along with some manure and some Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil.

We purchased some Jobe’s Organic Vegetable Fertilizer and have used that once so far. It gets applied every two weeks.

I realized after we planted everything that we should have thought about it first (duh Amy!) but we just did a quick layout and just dug. We have a few things (the squash, namely) taking over! The poor okra, if it gives us any pods, we’ll be lucky!! I also didn’t do much reading about what to plant and when.  I’m sure what we planted will be ok, but we could have been a little smarter about it! I’m pretty new at this, but here are my bullets which we can call…

“Gardening for Dummies”

1) Plan out your garden. Draw out the space on a piece of paper and pencil in what you’re going to put where. Take into account which vegetables grow vertically (like tomatoes or peppers) and which ones grow horizontally (like the runaway squash). Make sure that the location gets lots of sunshine and is easily accessible for watering purposes. Our garden is near the hose and also gets sprayed when we run the sprinklers.

2) Prepare the soil. All dirt is not created equal!! You’ll want a good mixture of organic material (compost) and high quality top soil in your garden.  The right mix of garden soil will provide nutrients for your plants, will drain efficiently, and will have maintain a good pH. Here’s a list of articles that can help you decide the best way to establish and maintain your soil.

3) If you’re starting vegetables from seed (I have not gotten this brave yet, maybe in the fall), plan accordingly. You’re going to need to plan additional time in your growing schedule.

4) Plant according to your geographic location. You have to be realistic that you’re not going to be able to grow everything where you live. It’s a bummer sometimes, I know, but don’t waste your time.  A quick Google search for growing lists for your state should provide you with the information that you need.

5) Keep your garden watered (but not too much!) and weeded. Weeds in the garden will compete with your vegetables for water and nutrients. They’ve got to go!! Most vegetables need about an inch of water per week. Please know that it is not true that you should water, water, water. This is a soapbox issue for me (don’t you dare let me catch you watering your grass every day!!), but we’ll leave that for another day. Just promise me you won’t kill your vegetables by over watering them, ok!? Thank you!!

Some other links you might like:

Extension Services – Find your local Extension Office and area specific agricultural information
Florida Extension Office’s Garden Guide – what to plant, when, and how. Awesome guide if you live in the Sunshine State!
Garden Web – great gardening forums!
Organic Gardening Guru (make sure you read the page on fertilizing)
Organic Gardening Magazine
Square Foot Gardening
The Pioneer Woman’s Raised Garden Bed Tutorial

If there are other resources that you use, please let me know. I’m always looking to learn new things! I hope this rundown on how we started our garden is helpful to someone out there in the great wide internetworld! Go forth and garden… and send me your pictures – I want to see how you’re doing your growing!

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