With Spring on its way, it's the perfect time to consider starting a little vegetable garden in your backyard. Given my black thumb, you might be thinking I'm the last person you should be taking gardening advice from; however, it's precisely because of my horticultural cluelessness that you should feel confident in following these tips.
If I can do it, anyone can!
How to start a simple vegetable garden:
- Invite over a friend or relative who gardens and is at least semi-successful at keeping things alive. Offer him/her a “tour” of your backyard during which you ask a million annoying gardening questions, like where the best spot to put your garden would be, how many hours of sun you’ll need, what size the garden should be, and anything else you can think of. Take copious notes.
- Buy a pre-made raised garden bed (you can find them at Home Depot or Lowes) or make your own raised garden bed with some wood planks. If you want to go the DIY route, you can find plenty of simple tutorials online.
- Ask your gardening friend, or search Google, for the name of the most reputable gardening store in the area. Opt for a locally owned store versus Home Depot or Lowes. (There's nothing wrong with Home Depot or Lowe's, but I've had better luck finding really knowledgeable and passionate gardening experts at local garden centers.)
- Go to the store when it’s not crowded, smile really kindly at everyone, and zero in on the most helpful and knowledgeable employees you can find. Tell them that you’ve never gardened before, but that you have a nice little garden bed ready and you want to know what to put in it. Buy whatever they suggest. (When in doubt, start with herbs.)
- Take your dirt, tools, and plants home and put the plants into your little garden bed.
- Water and wait. (Don’t forget to keep watering.)
I could have spent a lot of time researching and reading about what to plant, when to plant, etc., but since I tend to learn by doing, I decided to just jump in.
Yes, I killed some stuff.
But I was also pleasantly surprised by what I didn’t kill. If something’s not working out, chalk it up to a lesson learned, pull it, and plant something else.
You can never go wrong with certain herbs like thyme, mint, sage, rosemary, basil, or oregano, so I recommend planting at least a few of those so you can feel good about yourself even if everything else in your garden dies.
(If you do plant basil, this recipe for vegan pesto is a perfect way to showcase it!)
I owe a big thanks to my stepfather-in-law who got me started on my little gardening adventure…and to the kind and patient employees at Buchanan’s Native Plants in Houston who helped me pick out a group of “starter plants” for my little 6x4 foot garden bed.
You can start out with seeds, but since I was such a novice I chose to use starter plants. It’s satisfying to put something in the ground that you can already see versus waiting and hoping for the tiniest seedling to poke out.
Happy gardening, and happy Spring!