If you’ve been enjoying the recent influx of fresh produce at your local market or farmer’s stand, consider doing one better and creating your own summer garden. You might be surprised at how easy it can be to grow fresh vegetables — green thumb not required! Even people with little gardening experience or yard space can grow something this summer.
Why should you start your own garden? Let us count the reasons! First, it’s fun. Second, it’s delicious. And third… cha-ching, it can save you the other kind of green! Just imagine: a $2 tomato plant can easily deliver $30 worth of tomatoes over the season. And with you in control of helping them grow, you can be comfortable knowing just what they’re made of! Plus, watching your tomatoes go from green to red will probably drive you to eat more of them, and when is eating more veggies ever a bad thing?
Ready to dig in… literally? Here are six ways to start your own vegetable garden this summer!
- Know what to plant and when to plant it. To get the best life out of your vegetables, you’ll want to plant your seeds at a time when the weather allows your vegetables to grow. To find out the best time to start planting your favorite vegetables in Philadelphia, check out this great gardening resource via the Almanac.TIP: The best time to plant beans, tomatoes, spinach, peppers and onions in Philadelphia is NOW!
- Find your sunshine. Does your gardening space (this includes a porch or balcony if you’ll be using containers) have full sun, partial sun, or shade? While relaxing outside for eight hours is one way to find out, a far more practical option is placing a sunlight calculator in your proposed spot. The device will measure the amount of sun it receives over the course of a day and let you know exactly what category you fall into. You can also do this the more affordable old-school way on a day you’ll be home by mapping the shade patterns in the yard at 9 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m. When you know how much sun your space receives, you can choose the best plants for your garden’s conditions.
- Prepare your plots. Are you using containers or building raised beds? Building a raised or isolated gardening area will help to mature the soil, prevent weeds from growing, and minimize uninvited guests, such as critters, insects and pests. No yard space to spare? Container gardens planted with varietals designed to grow and thrive in pots are perfect for city dwellers.
- Get rich or they’ll die trying. Different plants prefer unique growing conditions. Since a plant’s chances of survival greatly depend on good growing conditions, do your research on the best types of soil for your vegetables.
- Sitting, waiting, wishing. Starting a new garden as your summer project is exciting. Just remember to be patient with your plants’ growth. If you expect a pumpkin patch the day after planting the seeds, then you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed. Instead, choose a variety of plants that will mature at different times of the season so that you see a steady progression of your gardening success!
- Take care. While some plants are super-hardy and require minimal coddling, you’ll have to tend the garden a bit. No rain today? Give your veggies a drink in the morning before work. Weeds growing? Pull them out! The more work attention you put place on your garden’s conditions, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Share your garden pictures in the comments for a chance to be featured as a follow-up to our blog post!