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Grow Your Own Vegetables
There are few things as delicious as fresh-picked vegetables. You might be able to get almost-fresh-picked at a farm stand or farmers market, but you will pay a premium. You can, however, grow your own – and it is not as hard as you might think.
First, start small. If you don’t have a yard, or if you are not sure you want to commit the space and time to a larger garden, grow some things in containers on your deck or patio. Herbs make excellent container plants, and you will end up spending a fraction of the cost of buying them at the store. You also can grow a wide range of vegetables, including tomatoes, in containers.
If you enjoy your container garden experiment, and if you have a yard with space enough, consider expanding to a traditional garden. But again, start small. If you like the experience, you can always add more garden space later. Raised beds are an excellent way to set up a relatively small garden space.
Site your garden carefully, with an eye toward getting plenty of sun – at least six hours a day. If you are growing things in containers, you can simply move the container to an appropriate spot. But if you are making a garden in the yard, choose a site that is not too shaded. If you are deciding on a spot in the spring, think about whether that spot that is so sunny now will be in shade once the trees leaf out.
The next consideration is water. Plants need water, but they can die if they get too much, so choose a site that drains well. It also helps to locate your garden close to your outdoor spigot, so you don’t have to drag a hose or carry a watering can too far.
Raised beds can be an excellent way to start your gardening experience. You can buy premade raised beds, or you can build your own. Raised beds generally drain better than traditional gardens. Plus, you can fill the beds with specially mixed gardening soil, which often is much richer than the soil in your yard.
Then you need to decide what you want to grow. It goes without saying that you should choose things you and your family like to eat. But it also is good to have vegetables that are ready to eat at different times. For example, sow some fast-growing lettuce or spinach so that you can start enjoying the fruits of your labor before your tomatoes are ready.
It can be fun to involve your children or grandchildren in the project. Most kids love to dig around in the dirt, and they also enjoy watching things grow. Imagine how proud they will be to eat things that they helped to set up and tend.
You can sow seeds directly into your garden; this is the least expensive option, and it works well with some vegetables such as greens. You also can buy plants for transplanting; this is the most expensive choice. Or you can split the difference by starting your seeds indoors. Plant them early, which can get everyone excited about the garden. Then, when the plants are big enough and the garden is ready, move the plants outdoors.
During the growing season, you need to make sure that your plants get enough water. Pull any weeds that sprout up, and keep an eye out for bugs or other pests. You might need to put some rabbit-proof fencing around to keep the hungry bunnies away.
Then, when your bounty is ready, just pick and enjoy!