Vegetable Gardens 101: How to Start Your Own Garden | Food and recipes

Vegetable Gardens 101: How to Start Your Own Garden |  Food and recipes

Few culinary delights are as rewarding as using produce that you have grown yourself. A bowl of lettuce with the morning dew still on each tender leaf, a radish still cool from the damp earth, or a tomato picked warm from the sun and stuffed in your mouth – anything tastes better when it’s grown at home.

Home gardening has flourished significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The August 2020 issue of The Freedonia Group’s National Online Consumer Survey found that a quarter of U.S. adults began gardening since March 2020, making gardening a pandemic trend akin to TikTok dancing and sourdough bread attempts.

Bruce Frasier, owner of Dixondale Onion Farm in Carrizo Springs, Texas, says onion sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic and many customers have returned this year. (Reader introduction: An onion starter is just a small onion bulb that you plant to turn it into a bigger onion.) When someone orders a starter onion through Dixondale Farms, they receive seven weekly emails to help them successfully through the growing process.

Here, Frasier offers some insight into starting a vegetable garden at home.

Start with your soil

Frasier says all good gardeners begin by understanding their soil. Most home gardens rely on topsoil obtained from a garden center or local landscaping company, meaning the soil is loose and easy to work with hand tools (such as a pitchfork or hoe). If your soil is dense with a lot of clay and doesn’t drain well, consider amending the soil with sand or other aggregates to aid drainage.

Consult your local extension office

If you have questions about the nutrient content of your soil, including whether toxins are present, contact your county office (most state university systems have an extension office that can help with gardening questions) and ask for a testing kit. Your extension office can help you understand what goes on in your yard waste and how to optimize it for your vegetables.

Find reliable sources

Now that gardening is more popular than ever, you may find a local gardening group in your community that you can join to help understand the gardening seasons where you live. (Many of these groups also exist online and may have spare seeds or plants to sell or give away to help you get your garden started.) Frasier says your local, reputable garden center is the best place for a newbie to get some good work done. to become , reliable information and tell you in which planting zone you live.

Sun, shade or a mix of both?

Before planting your garden, watch how the sun moves over the area during the day. Is there a lot of sun in the morning, but little in the afternoon? Is it in full sun all day? These considerations will help you understand which plants will thrive in your garden.

The right plants for the right climate

Understanding your soil, sun and planting zone can help you decide which plants to include in your garden. Some vegetables (like onions) can grow almost anywhere, but the type of onion is critical to success. Onions are classified as long day, midday or short day plants and you need to grow the right onion for where you live.

Keep it manageable

Enthusiasm is great, but it can also deter the success of gardening. “Most people start out bigger than they’re inclined,” Frasier says, and if you can’t keep up with the harvesting and weeding of your yard, you’ll lose crop harvesting at the peak of maturity — and eventually plants will start to seed (which means they will stop producing). Frasier recommends starting small for your first year of gardening so you can discover what you enjoy growing and how much time you can devote to gardening. In the following seasons you can expand as needed.

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