You don’t necessarily need a green thumb to grow a bounty of fresh vegetables this summer. Think of the benefits of growing your own food - reduced costs when you’re grocery shopping, the ability to ensure that everything is truly organic and the ability to reduce your carbon footprint. Whether you’re a gardening novice or just want to start a vegetable garden with the least amount of time and effort, here are some tips on how you can grow your own “green” this summer.
1. Try a raised flower bed - Most expert gardeners agree that building up the soil is the single most important factor in pumping up your yield. A deep, organically rich soil encourages the growth of healthy roots able to reach more nutrients and water. The end result: extra-lush, extra-productive growth above ground.
2. Location, Location, Location – Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The more sunlight they receive, the greater the harvest, the bigger the veggies, and the better the taste!
3. Compost is your best friend – A great way to ensure you have soil rich in nutrients is to mix compost in before planting, and watering occasionally with compost “tea.” A compost bin is easy enough to start at home, and it helps you dispose of and repurpose many kitchen scraps and even some cardboard, paper, and lawn trimmings. But do your research beforehand – not all waste can be put into a compost bin, and depending on what you DO put in your bin, it can affect the way your compost feeds your plants (for example coffee grounds could make your compost too acidic for some vegetables.)
4. Dream big, start small – One of the most common errors that beginning gardeners make is planting too much too soon. A good-size beginner vegetable garden will depend on how many people you are trying to feed. The general rule of thumb is to plan on about 100 square feet per person. So, if you are trying to feed a family of four, a 16 X 10 foot plot would be ideal. This may even leave you with a little leftover produce for canning and freezing (or if you’re feeling generous, giving away to jealous neighbors)!
5. Choose your veggies wisely – While you can’t just dump these plants in the ground and walk away hoping they will flourish, here are the most likely plants to thrive, despite inconsistent care or less than ideal planting conditions:
Marigolds (to discourage pests and add some color!)
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