This post is part of the weekly Green Your Summer Series. This series offers some simple tips to help you have a greener summer. This is the fourth post in the series.
Gardens are an awesome way to save some money and reduce the miles that your food travels to get to your plate. You can always get the freshest fruits and veggies, and they always taste great! Usually, your home grown foods cost much, much less than the ones that you’d buy from the store that are out of season, bruised, split open or sprayed with who knows what. Having a garden will put you in the drivers seat – you’ll control all the inputs, decide when/if to add something to your food somewhere along the way, decide when it’s ripe and ready to eat, and decide what you want to grow. Want to grow kumquats? Go ahead, it’s your garden. Maybe you like tomatoes? Get a popular variety in your area. You can grow anything you want (for the most part).
To start one, you’ll first need to figure out what you like that will grow easily in your area. Everyone will have different answers for this, but I think in my
case if something that I liked didnt grow all that well, and something that I wasn’t familiar with, I’d probably put a little of both, and then deal with the impending issue of having 239 pounds of zuccini later in the fall.
Your first step is to locate a suitable area – the best one’s will be south facing (to get a lot of sun), relatively flat (so you dont have to flatten it yourself) and away from your dogs favorite area. I don’t think that anything would make me angrier than spending a whole lot of time creating a garden, only to have the sustainable hound (pictured at right during drivers ed.) tear it apart.
Once you’ve got a spot and it’s ready to go, turn the soil and add some compost or other organic material – I’ve used manure before with success. With all of that out of the way, you need to find your seeds and figure out how much room you need to give each plant for it to grow with success. Things like tomatoes need a bit of space between them, while lettuce does not need that much space. Usually, you can find things like this on the back of your seed package.
You can plant in the spring, summer, and fall, and will have success with different things depending on the season. However if you’re just getting started gardening, I’d go for the summer myself – it’s a little harder to mess up. To make it even easier (but more expensieve) consider buying plants that have already been started. It’s easier for you to track as you can see results sooner (growing plants/leaves instead of just “doing something” underground for a while).
If you find that you enjoy it this summer, You’ll always be able to start your seeds inside and completely get rid of that expense for next year. Not only will you be spending more time out doors and having some fun with your family, you’ll be getting fresh food for your kitchen that has traveled significantly less than a mile.
Do you have a garden? (Unfortunately, I do not currently have a garden. Once I get into a place with a yard big enough that I can fence the hound out of, I’m going to put one in) What are you planning on planting this year?