While I’m so excited that you are excited about starting your first garden this year, I’m sorry it’s starting out so angst ridden! In theory, gardening should be a simple joy–put a seed in the ground and watch it grow. Pick delicious fruit, eat it, repeat. It sounds so simple in theory, doesn’t it?
And then we start reading and you have to till the soil, and fortify the soil, and aerate the soil. Then do you go for an organic garden, partially organic, or bombs away with chemicals? Then do you head to the big box store, the local nursery, or the the heirloom seed hoarder somewhere in the Seed Hoarder Capitol of America?
Gardening is much more complicated after we marinate on it for a few days.
Bre, sadly you are not talking to an expert here. If you wanted to know how to clip coupons, use an eye primer, or write a kick ass college entrance essay, I’m your girl; but gardening, friend, I’m not much farther up the ladder than you are in terms of knowledge and know how. But I think you can work this to your advantage, because three years ago JGL and I were just as overwhelmed as you are, and last year we were at our wits end with a failing garden–a whole lot of work, and not a whole lot to show for it.
At it’s simplest, you have to start by asking yourself a very simple question: What do I want to get out of my garden this year? If that answer is fresh tomatoes, salad, some herbs, squash and peas, then you have a start. For JGL and I we want those things, but we want enough of them so we can can/freeze/dry a good portion of our produce to help us eat locally and more healthfully during the winter months. It’s for that reason, and that reason only, our garden plan looks like it’s on steroids, considering that we’re only two people.
Once you have a purpose, because let’s be honest with each other–if you don’t have a purpose, it’s going to be real hard to follow through with it (part of why I love ya, Bre–we’re so similar when it comes to this and I love that you get me on this one!)–then you can start crafting a plan. If you just want two tomato plants, some basil and thyme, salad, and squash you have two ways you could go–you could dig in your backyard to your heart’s contend, or you could start a container garden. Both will help you achieve your purpose, one is more labor intensive than the other one.
Where you get your plants/seeds is totally up to you and where your convictions are. For JGL and I do not go the 100% organic route. I’d love to, but for us at this stage of our lives the cost effectiveness of it is not there yet. If you want to go that route, or even take it a step further and go to a local nursery, more power to you, friend! We’ll start our tomatoes and peppers inside from seed (another cost saver), and once in the ground we will not use chemical pesticides and such–in that sense we do try to be as organic as possible. Last year we got the majority of our seeds and plants from Lowes. This year is looking like it will be the same, although I might splurge and get a few things from the Burpee Catalog. The back of your seed packet will be a wealth of information for you too and is essentially your guide for success–when to plant, what to expect, how to take care of it.
And if you want some research that’s not too overwhelming, funny, topic specific, and I think pretty on point, check out the for beginners section on the blog A Way To Garden.
Bre, the biggest thing in my mind is just to do it. So what if you get knee high in dirt and realize that you have to shift plan a little? Who cares if you go a little over board and get seven varieties of ‘maters? At the end of the day, whether it’s a great success or an epic failure, as long as you’re having fun a learning a little something along the way, that’s what’s important. AND you have my phone number–if you get stuck and don’t mind the blind leading the blind, I’m happy to try to help you navigate your garden this first summer.
That’s what friends are for, right? Right!