Grow Your Own Healthy Food at Home
Farm to Table At Home: Gardening for Beginners
Learning to grow your own food is a great way to get that farm to table experience right at home. It’s also a great way to limit your exposure to others during a time when Covid-19 cases are increasing. Now is the time to start preparing for the fall planting season. Even if you’ve never planted a seed in your life, these gardening for beginners tips will help get you started.
Around the country, the number of new Covid-19 cases are soaring. Governors are debating new stay-at-home orders and people are wondering how they can limit their time around others in order to reduce their chances of coronavirus exposure. Staying away from crowded, indoor spaces like bars and malls is one way to do just that, but you can’t always stay away from essential places like grocery stores.
Growing your own food is one way to get what you need without having to step foot in a grocery store. You’ll also get delicious, healthy whole foods at home and the satisfaction of knowing you grew them yourself. Vegetables are a great place to start. If this is your first time gardening, don’t worry, these gardening tips for beginners from the Old Farmer's Almanac are just what you need to grow the lush vegetable garden of your dreams.
Vegetable Gardening For Beginners
Backyard gardening is a great way to relieve stress and grow healthy food for that farm-to-table experience at home. Before you head to your local garden center, take time to plan your garden and read up on your area’s specific growing season.
Location, Location, Location
Choosing the right location for your garden is essential. You’ll need a sunny spot for your vegetables to enjoy at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Some vegetables do tolerate shade (like beets, carrots, and kale), so if your yard doesn’t get much sun, make sure to plant shade-tolerant vegetables instead.
Garden Soil Matters
Your vegetables need moist, well-drained soil. If water tends to pool in your yard, opt for a raised garden bed. If your soil is hard and rocky, make sure to till it first and remove rocks for optimal growth.
You might be very excited to start your new garden, but don’t let that excitement translate into planting too much too soon. The Farmer’s Almanac suggests that to feed a family of four, your garden should consist of 11 rows with each row being about 10 feet long. The rows should run north to south to take advantage of the full sun.
It doesn’t have to be that exact. If you have a small space and can only grow a few plants at a time, go for it! You don’t need a huge backyard to grow a vegetable garden. You can even grow vegetables in pots if you don’t have much outdoor space at all.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Михаил Руденко
Choosing Your Vegetables
Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, you’ll need to choose your vegetables accordingly. Keeping in mind your area’s anticipated first frost date, you can start your garden as late as July or August. That’s if you choose the right fall vegetables to grow.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the best vegetables for fall include:
- Bush beans
- Leaf lettuce
- Winter squashes/pumpkins
Summer vegetables like peppers and tomatoes may also survive the fall season.
Tips for Choosing The Right Vegetables
- Plant what you like - Location and timing of your vegetable garden matters, but so does your own particular taste! What do you and your family enjoy eating the most? If you love broccoli stir fry, plant some broccoli. Hate cabbage? Skip it.
- Don’t plant more than you can eat - Overplanting can lead to food waste. If you plant more than you or your family can eat, you may need to take the extra time to can or freeze them correctly to save for later, or the vegetables will be wasted. If you have family and friends you can safely gift your extra veggies to, that’s also a great way to share your bountiful harvest!
- Seed packets or pre-grown plants? - Growing vegetables from seeds takes the longest and not all seeds will germinate. If you’re worried about wasting time and money on seeds that never grow, or you’re worried about the timing of the first frost, you can always buy pre-grown plants from the garden center and transfer them directly into your garden bed.
How to Arrange Your GardenYou may not think about it at first, but arranging the plants in your garden so each one receives optimal sun is important. The Farmer’s Almanac suggests planting tall veggies on the north side of your garden so they don’t shade your shorter plants.
Staggering your planting is also a good idea so you can harvest your veggies at different times. For example, don’t plant all of your broccoli at once so that it all must be harvested at once. Instead, plant them a couple weeks apart and you can enjoy that fresh broccoli over a longer period.
When To Plant Your Veggies
This will all depend on where you live, especially when planting a fall garden because you’ll need to pay attention to your area’s first frost. The Farmer’s Almanac provides a convenient planting calendar so you know exactly when to plant your fall garden based on your area — just enter your zip code.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Yana Tatevosian
Farm-to-Table Freshness At Home
Starting your first garden is a great way to get out of the house, get some exercise, and bring the freshest vegetables possible to your kitchen. It’s also a great way to avoid the grocery store right now and decrease your chances of exposure to Covid-19.
Your entire family can join in on the process from start to finish, and it is a great opportunity to teach your kids about the life cycle of plants. Plus, you get to eat the literal fruits of your labor! When your vegetables are ready for harvest, you can explore new recipes to use them in your next meal.
After you master your fall garden, you can expand to new areas next year. Maybe you want to plant a fruit tree to add a bit of sweetness to your harvest. Lemons, plums, and mulberries are relatively easy to grow at home. Elderberry plants are also great for first-time gardeners because of their heartiness.
Whatever you decide to grow, the gardening for beginners tips will help you get started and be successful.
Feature photo credit: iStock.com/RyanJLane