Growing fruit and vegetables for your own consumption has a lot of advantages not just cash-wise. Healthier foods, particularly if you go for ecological growing, with guaranteed traceability and the lowest ecological footprint possible, are just some of the advantages of starting up an urban vegetable garden.
But, how do you dive in when you’ve got no vegetable growing experience? Well, you just simply make the decision and act because that’s the secret of just about everything, you learn by doing. So, with that and our 10 recommendations you’ll find it easy to get your first homegrown vegetable garden going then tweak it to perfection little by little.
- Don’t start with the most difficult vegetables
As obvious as it might seem it’s worth highlighting, i.e. to start by growing the most difficult foods greatly increases the risk of them not working, thereby increasing your insecurity.
As there’s time for everything, start off in this world with plants that grow easily in the area where you live. Aromatic herbs are a good starting point because they’re not very demanding yet quite resistant.
So, basil, oregano or rosemary can help you get on your feet in your vegetable garden.
- Little demanding seasonal plants
Apart from choosing hardy fruits and vegetables requiring little care, and preferably from your area, there’s something else you really must pay attention to as well, if you want your products to yield their fruits, i.e. the season when each should be planted.
Cauliflower with the onset of summer or spinach when the sun is scorching? If you do that, then all the odds are stacked against your plants yielding any fruit, therefore, you must check when it’s the right time to grow any product in your area, and in that way have a greater guarantee of success at harvest time.
- Do I use seeds or plant plugs?
There is no one answer on this point. On the one hand, opting for plant plugs usually makes the task easier, because it’s generally quicker and easier. On the other hand, however, (and here you may well have to ask for more expert advice and information) some species tolerate transplants worse than others, and generally anything involving movement of its root.
Carrots are a good example, since in this case planting seeds is the better option for plant success. While at the same time, foods like tomatoes can be transplanted without any serious complications, so in this case, you can use either seeds or plant plugs.
4. You get what you pay for
This is particularly true in relation to nutrients for the soil to be conditioned for your homegrown produce.
So, if you find yourself tempted by a cheap substrate, beware! Because in this case quality matters. In fact, nutrient richness is essential for successful plant produce.
Anyhow, as you gradually gain experience, you could even use homemade compost, an ideal solution you can produce from the organic waste generated in your household.
5. Sun or shade?
Learning everything you can about the plants you’re going to choose to sow for the first time is vital. So, apart from knowing whether you have to grow during a specific season or whether a plant plug or seed is better to use, you also have to pay attention to what they need in order to grow. In this area the amount of exposure to sunlight has a lot of importance.
Although it’s logical to assume sunlight is more; it’s not true for 100% of cases, to give you just a couple of examples, i.e. lettuce and spinach, these plants appreciate a bit of a break and periods of shade.
6. Pay great attention to water
However, your learning must go beyond that to include yet another critical element for correct growth of your plants, i.e. water.
Generally speaking neither too much nor too little is a good line to follow that said, it would be more efficient to find out about each plant you sow, to know its specific needs. Once you have this information, constancy and paying attention will be critical.
So don’t forget to touch the soil periodically to see if it’s still moist.
7. Optimism and patience are the keys
The key to success with your first plants also lies with you.
And you know, it’s like so many other things, a confident positive attitude is essential because it’ll help you with the constancy, not to mention in the decision making when something unexpected happens. And rest assured, they’ll pop up so get yourself ready!
8. Keep feelings of guilt at bay
And, as the unexpected does happen, there are many reasons why the products you planted may not come to fruition or that whatever you do they spoil.
Pests, frosts, hailstorms, etc., there are many threats, so however much you try to foresee these, they are frequently beyond your control and you end up losing one or several species in your vegetable garden. So in the face of these situations keep your feelings of guilt at bay.
9. Failure? No! An opportunity to continue learning
Just do exactly that! Don’t let yourself be defeated by a feeling of guilt or failure! The fact you’ve lost what you’ve tried to grow isn’t important in itself, but rather for the next time.
Because everything that’s happened during your initial experience with your homegrown vegetable garden serves to teach you how to improve and minimize your mistakes.
This means in many fields, and this one is no exception, whilst practice might not make perfect it will bring you closer and closer.
10. Ask and share experiences
Apart from learning from your own mistakes, it’s important to learn from others, because many before you started their own urban vegetable garden or because there are a lot of people with green fingers when it comes to domestic plant growing.
So ask questions, talk about your vegetable garden, share your experience with your family, friends, acquaintances, etc. If none of them are interested in this, then find somebody in your community or via the Internet, where there are loads of forums and recommendations for novices which can serve as a guide.
So, with these recommendations and, essentially, your enthusiasm to set up your vegetable garden and enjoy your own fresh food, you shouldn’t have any problems going ahead and growing your first veggies, not to mention all the advantages given at the beginning of this post, will also bring you a great deal of personal satisfaction.