New Gardener

Emma1412January 26, 2014

Hi im totally new to all of this. Myself and my kids (8 in total) want to grow our own fruit veg and herbs. Any tips help advice etc would be helpful. Also on a very low budget thxs

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Welcome to the world of gardening, Emma!! My first question to you would be where exactly in this world are you located? Narrowing down location will give us a much better understanding of what will be most suitable (and successful!) for you to grow. Explaining what your property may look like in terms of open sunny areas, any already prepared planting beds, the amount of square footage you have to work with will also help us to better guide you.

The good news is that you are asking at an appropriately early time of year, if you live in the northern hemisphere!! Still plenty of time to get a garden area organized before seed starting.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 6:19PM
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Yes find out what your zone is (you can look it up online) and let us know where you are in the world. Think about what types of veggies you are interested in growing. I've heard over and over the best things to grow are simply what you like to eat, but also planting them at the right time for your zone and picking proper varieties for your climate helps your success.

Many people love growing the standard warm season veggies like tomatoes & squash, but don't overlook cool season & leafy type veggies that can be started as soon as there's no chance of frost, or sometimes even sooner, and are often quite productive. Herbs are wonderful too and also very nutritious besides just adding flavor. Be sure to research each type of plant individually- even ones that seem similar may like different growing conditions- for example peas and green beans seem fairly similar in growth habit & appearance, but peas like cool temperatures & too much heat will kill them, while beans tend to like warm to hot weather.

Since you are on a tight budget you will probably want to start your plants from seed as it is much less expensive than buying started plants from a nursery, but it also takes more planning. Also think about choosing more highly productive types of veggies, especially if you are short on space. Also some plants can be re-grown from kitchen scraps- like green onions or celery. If you've bought them to eat anyhow you might want to save the parts that regrow! Also potatoes & sweet potatoes, and I've had some success with lettuce with this method as well. The info is online.

Also think about the different options for growing- if you have poor soil or not much space you may want to use raised beds, however you will need to buy lumber to construct them and soil to fill them with this method. If you have more space and decent soil you can grow in rows in the ground, though you may need to dig the soil and probably amend it somewhat- look up soil preparation. Soil is actually very important to the sucess of your garden- research things like composting (you can make your own or sometime certain cities will give away compost for free or much cheaper than garden centers/nurseries), soil biology, and never underestimate the importance of mulching! keep that soil covered (with cheap or free natural materials like pine needles, leaves, straw, or wood chips from a tree trimming company), it will prevent weeds, keep your soil from drying out- which keeps your plants happy AND saves you money on the water bill, and keep the soil healthy. Regardless of your growing method most things will need a good amount of sun, especially for fruiting types- tomato, pepper, cucumber, etc. However herbs and leafy greens & some root vegetables can tolerate more shady locations.

Fruit trees, nut trees, berries, and perennial vegetables like asparagus & artichokes might be a good option if you have the space- these take less work as you only plant them once and they produce for you year after year. These are a bigger investment at first though as they cost more & are bought as plants- except artchokes which can be planted from seed- and will take a few years to get established before you see decent harvests. The fruit & nut trees & berries take a bit more know how, pruning & need to be planted in a proper location, and different types will do better in different climates, so do your research first (what they sell at the garden center isn't always the best or cheapest option either- be sure to shop around at smaller nurseries and farmers markets too). Maybe wait on these until you feel more comfortable in the garden, but don't wait too long either since they take a while before they start giving you results.

There's lots of information online and I love to watch YouTube videos to learn as I am more of a visual person. Research & plan. Grow organic. Definitely get the kids involved- they can help with the labor and will have fun learning, growing, and eating from the garden. One of my favorite gardening blogs is Mother of a Hubbard, and a few of my favorite YouTube channels are Growing Your Greens, and Gary Pilarchik/the Rusted Garden.

Also it's good to start small and grow slowly as you become more comfortable. If you start too big you may become overwhelmed or unable to keep up with care or harvests. But don't go too small either since taking care of one plant takes about the same effort as taking care of several, so you want to make it worth your time. Don't just grow 1 strawberry plant for example- I think the recommendation is 6 to 10 plants per person in your family for decent harvests.

Good luck on your exciting new journey, it is a very worthwhile one indeed, and the harvests that reward you will definitely be with the work & care you put in.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:54PM
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The way I started was with a book on Beginning Gardening. You can find this in a library. It will cover the basics like soil, water, sun, and nutrients and other info to get you started.
Have fun!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 10:44AM
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The way I started was with a book on Beginning Gardening. You can find this in a library. It will cover the basics like soil, water, sun, and nutrients and other info to get you started.
Have fun!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 2:31PM
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Here's my advice I gave to another newbie:

Start small, and leave room for growth in future seasons. You are learning new gardening skills, but you're also learning about your site and weather conditions too. Please don't overwhelm yourself with a large garden plot right at the get go. (I've done this myself, and this could kill your enthusiasm.) Start smaller than you would like; choose easy herbs with wonderful scents that pull you outside; quick growing plants like radishes, baby carrots or edible flowers - for (almost) immediate gratification. Hopefully this will leave you hungry for more gardening when next year comes around.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 1:20AM
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