The price of everything is rising these days and if you are like me, you are probably looking for some ways to save money. A vegetable garden is a great start in doing that. A USDA study suggests that one tomato seed can grow as much as $50 worth of tomatoes! Who can argue? Have you seen the price of vegetables at your grocery store?
If your path of choice to savings is a vegetable garden and you are new to gardening or have little experience, then you have come to the right place. I wanted to share with you some tips that can make vegetable gardening more fun, more productive and of course help you produce fresh fruits, veggies and herbs.
TIP #1: KEEP IT SMALL
One of the most common mistakes that I see new gardeners make is to try to grow too much. They end up becoming overwhelmed by their gardens and invariably let it go or give up altogether. If you are new to gardening, remember to keep it small. A small garden is more manageable and it allows you to get your feet wet (or dirty in this case). Once you feel comfortable with your small gardening skills, then you should increase its size by adding something new each year.
TIP #2: GROW WHAT YOU WILL EAT
Another common issue is some gardeners will grow anything and everything just for the sake of growing something. My brother is guilty of this. Two seasons ago he grew butternut squash. They were absolutely beautiful. They had great color, healthy vines and wonderful production. A professional farmer would have been proud of him. There was one problem though. Nobody in his family, not him, his wife or his kids, actually eat butternut squash and if you have ever seen it grow, you know it can take up lots of space. His neighbors were thankful though as they were the lucky recipients of my brother’s home grown butternut squash. Make a list of what your family likes to eat starting from the most favorite down to the least and then add those items to your garden from top to bottom as space permits.
TIP #3: KEEP IT CLOSE
I am a true believer in “out of sight, out of mind.” I see it in action in my own day to day activities. If I don’t look at my “to do” list then I simply don’t get things done. The same will hold true for your garden. I have found in my own experiences, that when I can see my garden through my kitchen window or back door, it’s on top of my mind and I can give it a quick glance to see if there is anything I need to attend to immediately. You will also be able to see your plants grow a little each week or daily (for your zucchini lovers out there). In other words, you will stay focused on your garden.
For beginners and even some experienced gardeners those three tips will come in handy. However I wanted to share a few small tidbits about gardening that can help you along the way.
For starters, you can reduce the amount of weeding you will have to do by using 3 to 4 sheets of newspaper. Newspaper makes for a great weed barrier and it is inexpensive. Heck you can probably get it for free from your neighbors, after they are done with reading it of course. Cover it with some straw or hay to keep it down so it doesn’t it blow away and you are all set. You will still get the occasional pesky weed, but they will be few and far in between.
Speaking of hay or straw, a $5 to $9 bale of either does more than just keep your newspaper down. It will slow down the evaporation of moisture in your soil which helps keep your plants hydrated and in turn that means you water your plants less. At the end of the season you can just till the hay or straw under and you have readymade compost. And aesthetically speaking, it does really make the garden look fantastic.
Finally, if you aren’t doing it already, start a compost pile. There are plenty of resources out there on how to start your own. You have probably been throwing away items into your trash that could otherwise go into a compost pile, and finished compost, referred to as humus, contains valuable nutrients your plants will use to grow and thrive. So make sure you read up on compost and getting your own pile started today.
Combine all of this information and you will have everything you need to be a successful home vegetable gardener, growing your own fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs just a few feet from your own kitchen.
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the rest of us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the Seeds of the Month Club.
This post is linked up with Healthy Child, Healthy World!