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Quick Guide: Edible Gardening

Vegetable gardening is a hobby that adds beauty to your yard. It brings physical activity to your routine. It puts nutrient-rich food on the table for less money. Cool, right? To get started, think small. You’ll be savoring sun-warmed greens in no time.

Getting Started

Herbs: Plant them in pots on your windowsill or in raised garden beds. Herbs add versatile flavor to any meal, and they’re great for start-up gardeners. Easy-to-grow herbs include basil, chives, rosemary, dill, lavender, and mint.

Containers: Turn your doorstep, patio, or balcony into a mini snack buffet. Containers can hold a wide variety of produce. Get creative with crates, urns, or galvanized tubs. Keep in mind, containers need drainage holes. Try not to let them dry out between watering or get too saturated.

Choosing Your Produce

Seed catalogs and your local garden center or hardware store are the best resources.

Location, Location, Location.

Once you know what produce you want to plant, carefully read the seed packets for what sort of conditions they need to grow.

Sun: Most vegetables typically need 6–8 hours of direct sun. Not enough sunshine in your yard? Plant leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.

Water: Most veggies aren’t drought-resistant. Keep them near a constant water source like the backyard hose. Live in a hot climate? Plant chilies, peppers, and tomatoes. Make it a salsa garden!

Soil: Keep soil moist, well-drained, and use compost. Read more about it below in “Making the Bed.”

garden trowel

Making the Bed

If your yard soil is sandy or hard clay, build container boxes or raised beds. Raised beds are generally 1–4 feet across and as long as you want. Line the bottom of the frames with several layers of newspaper, then fill them with soil.

Loosen the soil before you plant. High-quality gardening tools make aerating and incorporating compost into the soil easier.

When you’re done, smooth the surface with a rake and water the bed. Allow it to rest several days before you start planting.

Harvest Time

This is the fun part. Harvest in stages. Many veggies like beans, peppers, and cucumbers actually stop producing if they’re not harvested regularly. If it looks good enough to eat, it probably is. The more you pick, the more the plant will produce.

Pest Control

Protect your bounty from these predators. Here are some guidelines.

Cute & Fluffy (deer and rabbits)

Use fences. The bottom of the fence should be about 6 inches under the soil to keep out the rabbits. Extend it 8 feet above the ground to keep deer from jumping over it.

Creepy & Crawly (insects)

Lightweight sheets of translucent plastic called row covers protect young spring crops against many common insects. During the summer, pick larger insects and caterpillars off by hand. (Ew!) Use insecticidal soap sprays to control harmful bugs. READ LABELS CAREFULLY!

Gross & Yucky (fungus)

Water the soil, not the plant leaves. Too much moisture on the leaves, especially overnight, encourages mold growth. If you have a sprinkler, water early in the day to give leaves time to dry. If a plant becomes sick, remove it and throw it way. Don’t compost it.

Try a few new gardening techniques each growing season, or experiment with one or two new vegetable varieties each spring. Your garden skills will keep growing…and so will the produce aisle in your own backyard!

4 Responses to Quick Guide: Edible Gardening

  1. Laura Forni April 6, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

    Great – thank you!

    P C Consultant, did not list website

  2. Diane E. April 7, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

    I’m an experienced gardener (another term for old!) and I love these tools!! Totally investment pieces and worth every penny! Work horses!

  3. Candace Kirkham April 15, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    I love gardening myself Diane! I couldn’t agree with you more about how well made these tools are. Anything to last me years and get the job done is worth my while!

  4. Susan Lundquist April 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

    Buying good tools is a very good investment and caring for them properly is an investment in their longevity. I have shovels and hoes that my grandfather taught me to use when I was a kid, then I used them for almost 40 years, and now my grand kids use them if they are feeling up to helping out in my garden.

    Good quality, solid, and comfortable hand tools can last a lifetime or more. Unfortunately, trimmers seem to have a 10 year life span, but I ‘m going to buy the one from Pampered Chef’s lineup and see if they don’t last me the rest of my life.

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