• Matgardener95

Where to Begin When Starting Your Garden? - Choosing The Vegetables

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

A garden is a way to provide local food. There are many advantages that come when gardening. It's good for the health, it makes you take some fresh air. Gardening improves your memory. There is a lot to remember to do: watering, weeding, which plants need to be covered if cold weather appears, when to harvest each vegetable, etc. It reduces stress and brings a lot of happiness. Gardening is a good way to show our kids where food comes from. It shows them to be patient and to work hard.

The best thing about gardening is seeing the process from the seed to a fully mature vegetable. However, starting a garden for the first time can seem scary and challenging. The are several questions that we ask ourselves. What must be done? What not to do when you are starting a garden for the first time or at a new place? What type of vegetable should I grow? How much of them? I would try to help in this process base on my experience. In the next couple of weeks, I will talk about different aspects to look at when starting a garden for the first time.

Which Vegetables to Choose?

When doing a garden, the most important thing to do is to not jump everywhere. It is easy to try and grow multiple vegetables or too much. Not having a plan can cause you to be overwhelmed and might discourage you to do a garden in the future. Choosing your vegetable and the quantities is a good start to know how big your garden needs to be. It also gives you an idea if you will need to spend a lot of time in the garden. When choosing your vegetable to grow, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. They are vegetables that can be harvested during almost all the season and that can be sown almost any time during the summer. On the other hand, they are some plants that can be harvested only at the end of the season.

Time Before Harvesting

Knowing that certain vegetables can be harvested and sowed practically all summer long, planning succession planting can avoid beginning gardeners being overwhelmed. Succession planting is when you sow in a time interval. For instance, for lettuce instead of sowing a full 4 foot row, you can sow 2 feet and wait 2 weeks before sowing the 2 other feet. This way it guarantees that you can harvest lettuce for a longer period. From past experience with lettuce, when sowed all at once, you will be found yourself for a couple of weeks with a lot of lettuce and will also be done harvesting them all at the same time. You are now without lettuce for the rest of the season unless you plant more, but still, you will need to wait until it is ready to be harvested.

While you can do succession planting with lettuces, squashes are a plant that has a long period of time before reaching maturity. It requires all summer to grow before you can harvest them. If you are lucky you might have one or two squashes in July. They take a long time to grow, so planning when to start them is very important in gardening. You don’t want to start your squash in July. Doing so, your squash plant might not have enough time to fully grow to give squashes.

Ideal Temperature

What is important to also note that certain plant even though they have lower days before reaching maturity, they also need the perfect temperature. While other plants are less sensitive to temperature. Taking notes of the temperature preferences of each vegetable needs will help you to plan better your garden. It allows you to know when to sow the vegetables. For example, radishes prefer colder temperatures to thrive. When warm weather hits, they grow slower. This crop takes only about 25 days, so if you have warm weather for 3 weeks chances are that the radishes will not be big enough. Some might let them in the ground and wait until it gets bigger. At that point, it is way past 25 days and now the radishes are bitter. On the other hand, warm weather is needed for squashes to be able to grow. If you get cold weather the squash plant will need more time before giving you a fully grown squash.

It can be challenging to decide which vegetable to choose. The most important thing to do is to search about the maturity point of each vegetable you want to grow in your garden. Once you have decided which vegetable you want to cultivate, knowing how big your garden should be is the next important key.

Size of Garden

The size of a garden is also another key factor when starting gardening for the first time. It is easy to go too big too fast. Doing a big garden can also discourage beginning gardeners. A big garden requires a lot of time. If you don’t have or don’t want to devote time to the garden, but still want some fresh vegetables, you might be thinking of doing a small garden such as a garden that measures 5 feet by 5 feet instead of a garden 10 feet by 10 feet. They are no standard size of a garden. Note that the dimension of a small or big garden can depend from people to people. You need to determine what you considered as being small or big.

Time Consuming

weeds between rows

Weeding, depending on the size of the garden you have, can take half an hour to many hours. For instance, in my garden, it takes me 2 hours each week. Some week you might need to weed more all depending on the weather. When your soil is dry caused by hot weather, weeds can be easier to remove, while if the soil is moist you might find weeds with bigger roots anchored in the soil. If there is no rain for a long period of time, weeds could be present more around the row that you water. But if it rains for many days you will find weeds everywhere.

Not only weeding can take a lot of time in your garden, but maintenance of vegetables and garden too. Vegetables as peas and runner beans prefer to grow in height. What I do is I put wood sticks on each side of the row and attached a cord to make them climb. You can add cords as peas grow. Also, depending on the type of garden, (we will discuss in the next blog), you might need to fix your garden box. For a traditional garden, you might need to add more soil if with time you see that your garden is starting to erode.

Quantity and Size of Crops

The size of a garden can not only be determined by the time of maintenance it can take, but how many varieties of vegetables you want to grow or the quantity of each. For instance, lettuce and radish do not take a lot of space. You can grow a lot of them. However, if you grow zucchini or squash, they take a lot of space. Hence, you will need a bigger size of the garden to be able to grow just a couple of zucchinis or squashes. Whereas, if you grow lettuces and radishes you will have more for the same space. You will find on the seed package the space that you need to sow them. Also, you can find a lot of information online about the width of each vegetable once they are at maturity.

The size of the garden depends on the time you have to devote to it, the number of varieties, or the quantity you want to cultivate. You can make a small garden with a few varieties of vegetables and next year go bigger and increased the varieties of vegetables. Over the year the size of the garden can change depending on your needs.

Final note

As you can see, there are several factors to consider when starting gardening for the first time. After deciding which vegetable to grow and the size of the garden you need. In next week's blog, I will discuss one other element in order to help you start your garden for the first time. We will go through the different types of garden you can do. This will indeed depend on the budget, space, and style you want to have. You will find a guide that tells the maturity period of the most popular vegetables that will be available in the gardening guides section of my website.

I hope this will help you in choosing the right vegetable to grow this year. Let me know in the comment below your thought, your experience when you started gardening, or which vegetable you liked growing.

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