Thursday, February 26, 2009
top ten new garden suggestions
1. Don't plant too much. Inevitably you will plant too much. I will too but at least if you try not to plant too much you won't plant waaay too much and find yourself harvesting squash in the dark or asking your in laws to fly from out of state to help you weed. They already think you're crazy enough don't they?
2. Plant your first garden close by. Try to plant your new garden in a location you'll see regularly or better yet walk past everyday. This might be outside your kitchen window or next to the garage where you'll notice that the tomatoes are infact beginning to ripen or that that the asparagus patch really does need more mulch to help keep down the weeds.
3. Plant what you eat. I am all for experimentation but if you're just getting started plant mostly vegetables you know you like and can cook. Or limit yourself to a few new vegetables. You want this experience to be as rewarding as possible for you and your family.
4. Set a schedule. Try to plan time to spend in the garden. Maybe it's 15 minutes each day after dinner or a half hour in the morning before work. Maybe Wednesdays and Saturdays will work best for you but if you have a set time for being in the garden you're more likely to go there and get things done.
5. Keep good records. This is a tough one for many people, myself included but it will help you be successful more quickly. Despite your best hopes you will not in fact remember when you planted peppers last year or which varieties you grew or how many each plant yielded.
6. Make mistakes. Here's your license to mess up. If you're not making mistakes you're not trying hard enough to "grow your comfort zone" as Van Jones suggests. Stop worrying about being perfect and get to work. You'll succeed in ways you couldn't have guessed and you'll fail some to. That's how you'll learn.
7. Get help. Especially for those big projects like building raised beds or planting trees get your family, your friends or other people in your neighborhood to help. The permablitz model isa great idea.
8. Grow good soil. I know on the surface this topic might seem boring. When I talk to people in person about the importance of good soil I can see their eyes glaze over. Resist the urge to take this lightly! Healthy plants and a sustainable garden are a productive first and foremost of good soil.
9. Share food. Grow a few extra tomatoes or zucchini specifically so you can give the produce away. Give it to your local food bank or to people in your neighborhood as a way to get them excited about growing food. Ultimately you're only as food secure as your neighbors.
10. Include the kids. Try to share this new experience with young people so that they may grow up with a better understand of where food comes from. This is the ultimate way to help make the future a healthier, happier, tastier place.
Update: Check out the Hen and Harvest Garden Challenge!