Spring is finally here, and it’s time to start planning our gardens!
It’s hard to believe 10 years ago I was just starting on my first vegetable garden, and attempting to overwhelm myself with too many varieties of plants. Luckily my dad stepped in with a tiller and tomato plants, or we wouldn’t have had a good harvest at all.
Over the years we’ve tried several different types of gardens and techniques. Some have failed, some have not. The important thing is we’ve learned from our mistakes.
For those just starting out with a beginner backyard vegetable garden, I have three suggestions.
Tomatoes are a great starter plant for beginners or with limited space. It’s recommended you start with a live plant from your local nursery, or start your plant inside. Planting seeds directly in the ground doesn’t work as well, although it can be done.
These little buggers grow almost anywhere, and don’t take up a whole lot of space. I know the popular thing is to buy those new “hanging” tomato plants, but I’ve yet to hear anything good about the way they grow or how much they produce. With any common soil, though, you can grow your own tomatoes in the dirt. Sure it’s not as “clean”, but who wants to stay dirt-free while gardening? Isn’t the point to play in the dirt?
These work especially well for those with very limited space or a small backyard, and for those who can easily pull weeds around the pepper plants. They take a little extra work sometimes, but are worth it. Especially in the midwest, peppers are slightly picky. With proper care, though, any variety can be a hearty plant with decent yeild.
Peppers are also a perfect compliment to your tomatoes (the two together make EXCELLENT homemade salsa!). Just make sure you leave enough room between them, or the tomatoes will take over and kill your pepper plants.
If you are really ambitious or have the space, you may also want to think about planting pumpkins. These come in handy around Halloween, which is about the time you’ll see your best harvest.
A huge warning with pumpkins, though – they will take up A LOT of space, and will grow in places you may not want them. Also, if your area has a problem with squash bugs, you may end up with nothing (it took us two tries of having the squash bugs eat everything before we finally gave up). However, some areas have no problems growing pumpkins, so it’s something you can try if you have the room to do so.
Looking forward to hearing your backyard garden ideas!