Edible Gardening Tips for New Gardeners:
by LaManda Joy
1. SUN Most veggies need 6+ hours of sun a day. While lettuce, chard and some other greens like a little shade in the summer, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers like it hot. Keep this in mind when selecting a spot for your garden.
2. SOIL. If you want to dig up your lawn, you’ll need to get your soil tested. You can do this through the local extension service OR, to save yourself the hassle and have a good start with healthy soil, build a raised bed on top of your lawn and buy your soil instead. Organic of course!
3. WATER Hopefully your sunny spot is also near a watering source. Schlepping watering cans or buckets can get tiring.
4. LOCATION If your sunny spot near the water source is also in a heavily trafficked spot even better! If you see the garden frequently during the day you’re more apt to tend it. Out of sight, out of mind does not make for a good gardening relationship.
5. SPACE If you are limited in space, consider growing vertically. Sides of garages, deck railings and chain link fence are all great vertical gardening opportunities.
6. SELECTION What do you like to eat? Pick a few things your family really enjoys eating and try them the first year. By starting small, and being excited about what you’re growing, you are more likely to have a positive experience.
7. SHARE If you don’t heed this advice and start small, you’ll have extra food to share. Check out AmpleHarest.org for a food pantry near you.
8. ENJOY. Gardening is a wonderful activity that provides the best tasting veggies possible, promotes mental well being and is a great form of exercise.
LaManda Joy is a master gardener, author, blogger and founder of Chicago's Non-profit The Peterson Garden Project, a revival Victory Garden in Chicago's 40th ward. She wants everyone she meets to grow their own food....seriously.
Spring Tips article originally published in Edible Chicago's Spring 2011 issue. Photo credits: shutterstock.com and LaManda's photo courtesy of Peterson Garden Project.
To learn more about how to garden or cook with The Peterson Garden Project, visit petersongarden.org.