Monday, June 11, 2012

Gardening 101, step one

Eastern Common Bumblebee in the Cucumbers

There is probably nothing quite as satisfying as presenting fresh produce on a well set table.  Especially when that produce was picked fresh from the garden that morning.  For those fortunate to have a bit of clear, clean ground to grow one's own vegetables or those who have the pleasure of container gardening tomatoes on the balcony, you know the wonderful flavor difference between store bought and fresh picked.  If you don't have access to grow your own vegetables, then please, support your local farms and purchase from farmers markets. 

For those who do have access and the time to maintain a garden, I'd like to give you a few hints to help you along.  To begin, I'm pretty frugal.  I'm a firm believer in the three R's: reuse, repurpose, or recycle.  I also save seeds.  My favorite cucumbers are the one's I've selectively grown for over 10 years.  They are delicious right off the vine, prolific, and make a wonderful, crisp pickle.  For other vegetables, I always try to buy the best seeds possible or plants which are locally grown, healthy, and, whenever possible, organic. 

To get a jump on the season, starting in late February/early March, I carefully plant some seed trays for those plants that I know are going to take awhile to get going.  By consulting the germination/days to maturity calculation found on the seed packet one can get a general idea to how much time will be needed before one can expect those first fruits.  Remember: there are a lot of online tools available.  Don't hesitate to use these. they can be very helpful sometimes..

To find out when your zone, growing season, and last frost date, check the following link:

Once you have decided how much time and room you have available for planting, decide what you would like to grow.  It's easy to get carried away, so I suggest you start small with something relatively easy such as tomatoes (already started from your local greenhouse or farm market) and green beans (from seed).

First tomato 2011
Next check and compare when best to plant.  Some sites such as Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden planner combine garden planning with planting schedules, which is very handy to both the novice as well as the more experienced.  For those who are more hands on, Organic Sciences LLC, an online store out of New Jersey, has a nice tool to figure it all out:

Just remember: this is supposed to be fun.  enjoy and play in your garden.  Take a deep a cleansing breath and celebrate small victories.

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