Lettuce Turnip the Beet An Start Gardening! Re-post from May 2020

 

Lettuce Turnip the Beet! 

I'm a total pun nerd if you haven't figured it out yet! I love them!!! I also love gardening! Okay, I'm going to tell you something horrible. I killed my first two gardens! An, I had grown up with a garden every summer! I'm sure my dad tried to teach me something during those years, and I just let it go in one ear and out the other. I did pick up a lot by watching, so I knew I needed seeds, water, soil, & water, so easy, right?! What I didn't pick up on was the time, patience, and knowledge it took to be successful. If anyone tells you farming or gardening is easy, and all you have to do is put a seed in the ground, water it, and it will grow, they have never really gardened before. So, here are some tips on what to do as a first-time gardener: 

  1. Start with plants from the store. If it is your very first time gardening, starting with store-bought plants is your best bet! You will see results and taste the wonders of homegrown fresh food! Most people have to buy store veggies and fruit during the year, we do too, but once you start growing your food, you can tell the difference in the taste. Fresh off the plant has more flavor because it didn't take days to get to a store, sit in storage, and later on the shelf. Once you try fresh, you'll have the gardening bug for sure! 
  2. Choose a small area in your yard that has full sunlight at least 6hrs of the day. It could also be your porch or patio. You can buy a raised bed, build your own raised bed, plant in pots, or if you have a neighbor with a tiller, maybe you could borrow it. 
  3. I also suggest you start small. I know that a vast garden sounds like a great idea right now, especially with food shortages in some places. But, if you don't see what you're doing, it will quickly become a huge nightmare! Even an experienced gardener would have difficulty keeping up with it all. No, you will not have baskets full of tomatoes. Still, you will have some vegetables and the knowledge you gained from experience, which is better than no vegetables and an awful experience. 
  4. Make a list of your favorite vegetables. Then think about: How much do you eat of that vegetable a week? Am I the only one who eats it? Pick veggies that the whole family will eat. If none of you eat tomatoes, then don't buy tomato plants. If everyone eats squash, it should be on the list. 
  5. Research how much space each plant takes. Squash is a large plant but can be planted in a patio planter. It will need a large pot and ample space on your patio. Cucumbers are a vine plant that can soon take over, so make sure you have something that will allow it to grow upward. Does that plant grow out and is low to the ground, or is it tall? If you know what size plant you're going to get ahead of time, you can plan to stair-step them in their pots so they get as much sunlight and the room they need. How much space you have available will determine how many plants you can get. 
  6. What you'll need: store-bought plants (the larger they are, the sooner you'll get veggies), containers/pots/raised bed, soil (read next point), any stakes/cages/or support your plants might need as they get older, and a way to water your plants (water hose or watering can), and gloves if required. I love feeling the dirt between my fingers, so I only wear gloves when pulling weeds or moving things around. 
  7. Make sure to buy suitable soil for your container. It will say pots or raised beds. You can spend as little or much as you want on soil, depending on what brand you buy and how much you buy. It is always better to have too much soil than not enough. There are organic choices and chemical-filled choices; it's really up to you and what your preference is. What can you afford, and what will work for you at this time. 
  8. Pest or bugs will show up! If you are starting small, as I suggested, you should be able to check your plants daily or twice a day to see if any unwanted bugs are around. Not all bugs are nasty, which is why I highly discourage pesticides. Look up beneficial garden bugs and garden pests that way, and you know the difference. You don't want to kill the bugs whose job is to eat the nasty bugs or pollinate your plants! Remember high school biology? You need those bugs to grow your food! 
  9. Be patient! I know it's so hard; to this day, I want peppers to pop out in one week, even though I know it's more like 60-90 days when I plant them from seeds! It takes time! Enjoy the process and watch the changes that take place each day. Learn & observe! 

Helpful Things to Know: 

I want to address some topics upfront to be clear and transparent with you. I don't want you to think that it is all roses and sweet peas!

  1. Everyone has their way of doing things. At first, you will follow other examples, and it is okay to try out different techniques. In the end, you have to do what works best for you! It may end up being just one technique, and that's all, or you might mix several up. Learn and grow!!!
  2. If you have children, use this time to teach them about nature and how things grow! Everything can be an educational experience. Even small things can make a significant impact later! 

  1. Unfortunately, plants and animals will die. The best homesteaders lose animals, and the best gardeners make mistakes sometimes, you'll make bad choices, and you'll do the wrong thing. Give yourself some grace and remember the lesson. 
  2. Understand you will not save money at the beginning. People ask us all the time, "I bet y'all save a lot of money?" or make comments like, "It's a lot cheaper than buying from the store." Years down the road, when you learn the ends and outs of gardening. After you've figured out what works and what doesn't, after you've built and completed the start-up part of it, then you start to save money. 

This is a repost from May 2020, but it is a great place to start for the up coming blog series: How to Use Your Tax Money in the Garden & Homestead! 

Keep growing and wandering, 

Kara