I am hoping lots of people take the extra time at home this spring to start their own vegetable gardens. It is a great family activity and you can produce lots of home grown food in one season. I’ve seen a lot of questions around social media about where to buy seeds, how to start a garden, and what resources are available. Here is a quick summary of some of my favorite tips and tricks for vegetable gardens.
If you want to use seed, start with ones that are direct sow. That means you put the seeds directly in the ground (instead of having to start them indoors in trays). This approach is easy and works well for radishes, lettuce, spinach, sweet peas and lots of other veggies. For a great seed resource check out Burpee’s website. Under vegetables search for:
Sow Method: Direct Sow
Planting Time: Spring (or Summer)
This will give you a list of great options. Follow the directions on the packet in terms of seed spacing, sun exposure and depth and you’ll be on your way!
With tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower and peppers I find it easier to start from a small plant. I also grow herbs from starter plants because I want to use them right away. You can either mail order starter plants from Burpee (select form Plant instead of Seed) or from a local nursery. Most have curbside pickup or delivery available during this time. I find that Mahoney’s Garden Center has one of the best selections of vegetable and herb starter plants.
If you have rabbits, deer, chipmunks etc (which we all do unless you’re gardening on a roof top) you will want to protect your tender crops. I simply use large hoops and garden cloth from Gardeners Supply Company to keep unwanted munching at bay. Tomatoes, peas, beans and cucumbers like some support, my favorite towers are simple square metal towers or trellises.
If you are concerned about soil quality you can plant in a raised cedar bed with fresh soil (a 50/50 blend of compost loam is best, too much compost can burn tender plants!) I love the bed kits from Naturalyards. For a vegetable bed you want an open bottom. I prefer 22″ high and like the trim kit option for the top. You can add on trellises or A frames for cucumbers or peas.
Or you can plant in pots. I had clients growing corn in Root Pouches last summer!
If you want to home compost, great! There are lots of easy to use tumblers, a client of mine really loves this one from Jora, but know that there is a real formula of ingredients to create good compost. Alternatively you can subscribe to Black Earth Composts residential pickup program. They pick up a bin of compost every week (curbside) and at the end of the season you get a voucher for a bag of high quality compost.
I hope these tips help you get started on a fun and productive vegetable garden. Enjoy your time outside and stay well!