Tips for Starting your urban organic vegetable garden
Unless you are blessed more than the rest of us, you too are challenged by the drive to have fresh vegetables at your backdoor. Don’t despair; it can be done, even in the most restricted environments. There are a few things to consider and some planning that needs to be done before you begin.
- Consider your space.
- How much space do you have?
- Think about the location. Does it get enough direct sunlight? Does it get morning or afternoon sun only? Most vegetables require 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day to produce. Is water accessible? Will you need to haul water in a bucket or watering can or is there a hose bib nearby? Will you be gardening in the ground, in raised beds or containers. Each has its own unique set of challenges.
- Start small.
- Perhaps the most common mistake that beginning vegetable gardeners make is overreaching. My advice is to start small and work your way up. If you have space, start with a 4 foot wide by 8 foot long raised bed. This is a generous amount of space and will allow you to have a garden that will provide a good assortment of plants and produce but is small enough that it won’t overwhelm you with time demands.
- Containers are a perfectly acceptable way to grow vegetables. Start with a couple of 5-gallon plastic buckets. You can grow almost anything in a 5-gallon bucket with some care and attention. Even tomatoes. They aren’t attractive, but they are serviceable, cheap and readily available.
- Define your objective.
- What do you want to accomplish and why do you want to garden vegetables? For the satisfaction of raising at least some of the food you consume? The enjoyment of growing the plants and harvesting the produce? The pleasure that can come from working in the soil with your hands and watching the seeds sprout and plants grow? These and many more are all good reasons to garden. By putting these reasons into words, you will have a reminder later on of why you are doing all this work.
- Decide what to plant.
- What do you like to eat! That is the best starting place I know. What vegetables do you buy and prepare regularly? How much fun will it be to go into your garden and pick that favorite vegetable and prepare it fresh? In time you can begin to experiment, to branch out and to try some different varieties, maybe even some exotics. To begin, stay with the tried and true varieties that are proven for your area.
Once the preliminary thinking and planning have been done, it is time to begin preparing. The next step is to prepare your garden bed or your raised bed(s) or your containers. There are things that need to happen a bit differently with each of these. Take a look at the next sections for discussions and details about each method.