Planting your own vegetable and herb garden is a great way to limit trips to the store, and save money in the process. Below are tips to get started, no matter how much land you have (or don’t have).
It’s Not Too Late to Start.
Contrary to popular belief, spring isn’t too late to start a garden. In fact, some vegetables (like beans, peas, spinach, kale and squash) can be grown from seeds starting as late as July. The later the first frost of the season is where you live, the later you can begin planting. If you grow your garden from baby plants (also called transplants or starts) instead of seeds, you can begin the process even later. Consider staggering you planting so you have vegetables ready to eat as far into the later months of the year as possible.
No Yard? No Problem!
You don’t need a big yard to start a garden. In fact, you don’t need a yard at all. You can grow vegetables and herbs in containers on a small balcony or patio or even in a window box.
Think about the space you have. If you don’t have a yard, what types of vegetables and herbs will grow in your environment? Many greens like cabbage, romaine lettuce, scallions and bok choy can be grown from cuttings or scraps, as can herbs like mint and basil. Onions can be grown from bulbs.
If your area doesn’t get a ton of light, focus on herbs and vegetables that don’t need a lot of light to grow. Arugula, mustard greens, beets, broccoli, and carrots do well with less light. For herbs, basil, chives, mint and parsley are also suitable.
Just be aware that a good majority of vegetables need sunlight for at least five hours a day.
New gardeners may want to start simple. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which contains a wealth of information for both beginning and experienced gardeners including online planners to map out your garden, suggests the following vegetables are easy to grow and suitable for beginners:
- Bush beans
- Zucchini squash
Are you looking for a short growing season? Radishes are ready to eat in just about 30 days. Do you want something that needs little tending? Peppers are a good choice. As you talk to experts or read up on various options, decide what you think will work best for you based on your skill level and how much time and energy you have to devote to your garden.
What Supplies Do You Need?
If you have a small space (or even if you have a large yard but aren’t ready to carve out a large space for a vegetable garden yet) containers are a smart investment. These include window boxes, standing planters, pots, buckets, baskets and more. Just make sure the containers have ample space for the plants to grow (research how much the roots are expected to grow), and that there are proper drainage holes for the water in the bottom so that your plants don’t become overwatered.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on supplies, especially if you have a small space. Besides the containers, you just need soil, fertilizer, and a watering device. For larger spaces, tools like a trowel, pruning shears, and plant supports (if you have climbing plants) are a good investment. If you’re planting a garden in your yard, a rake and shovel will also help you get the job done, as could a wheelbarrow. But start small!
How to Get Supplies While Staying Safe.
You can buy supplies from online retailers, or through a hardware or garden store website. Seeds are easy to purchase online as well.
Most stores won’t let you order plants online for delivery. However, garden centers and home improvement stores are generally remaining open in most areas. If you know what you want, you may be able to arrange to pick it up. Many businesses are happy to load products into your car so that customers can minimize interaction with others. If you just have some questions, call and ask one of their experts. Just be patient, because they’re probably not fully staffed right now.
If you’re going all out with your garden, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. It has some useful safety tips for gardeners of all ages.