Sara Klimek

The birds are chirping, the snow is (hopefully) done for the season, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want your garden to look like for the summer.  Maybe you’ve never considered the advantages of growing fresh veggies, or thought that gardens are only for people with farms.  But, creating your own personal garden is much easier than this!  The benefits of having a well-cared for garden are numerous: fresh summer veggies, a chance to experience nature, reduce your food budget, and help the planet.

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Sometimes people are nervous about starting a garden.  Part of this stems from the notion that gardens are difficult to care for and take up a lot of time.  But, with some fitting advice and a decent shovel, anything is possible.  Here are some tips and tricks to help you start up your perfect garden.

1) Know your space 

Not everyone can grow 10 different vegetables and herbs, or an entire farms-worth of food.  If you have a smaller space, like a city apartment or a tiny front yard, consider growing smaller plants.  Also, take note of what kind of light you have.  Celery, carrots, lettuce, peas, and mustard greens prefer shade while peppers, beans, and tomatoes like sun.

2) Take into account what foods you want to grow

If no one in your house likes squash, why grow it?  Herbs like basil and parsley are a little more ubiquitous and can be used in a variety of dishes.

3) Follow the instructions on the insert

Many plants contain small plastic tabs with instructions for growth, planting, and watering.  These differ based on the water content and their chemical makeup.  I suggest writing these down and keeping a plant-diary to make sure that your plant has ideal care.

4) Stay away from fertilizers

Fertilizers can runoff into storm drains and hurt surrounding ecosystems.  Be mindful of how much fertilizer you’re applying and when rain is in the forecast.

5) Pay attention to the weather

Flowers are especially susceptible to early frosts.  If you notice that night temps may drop below freezing, you can place your potted plants inside a garage or shed.  If it rains the day before, you should shy away from watering your plants again to avoid drowning them.

6) Choose ‘easy’ plants to start out  

Not all plants are created equal.  If you have more time to spend weeding and pruning your plants, choose cauliflower, corn, or eggplant.  Lavender, Black-Eyed Susans, Peonies, Bush Beans, Chives, and Cilantro are some of the easiest plants to maintain.

7) Analyze your soil

Plants enjoy areas with calcium-rich soil.  If the soil is too sparse or cannot anchor roots, your plants may die.  Plant according to the insert, and perform tests on your soil if you want to be assured that it’s acceptable for planting.  You can also contact your local extension program to get some tips from their master gardener.

What plants have you been most successful at growing?  Drop your tips for other bSmart women below!

 

Sara is an editorial intern at bSmart and student at the University of Vermont. She plans on going to law school upon graduation.  

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