Here in upstate NY, most of our yard is still covered with a couple of inches of snow. Patches of grass are peeking out in places, and temps have warmed slightly, but I won’t be seeing any of the bulbs I planted last fall for weeks, I think. <Muffled sobs.> Regardless, I’ve been dreaming about gardening for the past couple of months. I’ve read several books, ordered seeds, and planned exactly where all of my seeds will be growing. All of this is in support of achieving my goal of growing 200 pounds of produce for my family this year.
I’m the daughter of an avid and highly knowledgeable gardener, and started dabbling in it myself a couple of years ago. I started with a couple of containers of cherry tomatoes, and two years ago added three raised beds that my husband built for me. In all of those years, I was really just sticking things in dirt and harvesting what grew, but this year I’m getting more serious about it. Although far from being an expert, I’ve read a good bit, (I love the gardening posts on the blog, One Hundred Dollars a Month!), picked my mother’s brain, and given a lot of thought to what’s worked for me in the past, and what hasn’t. And then I read this post, and it got me thinking about what I’ve learned from my gardening exploits to-date:
- Gardening is both incredibly easy, and incredibly complex. On the one hand growing things can be as easy as sticking seeds in the dirt, adding some water and sun, and enjoying what grows. This will not yield the best results, though. Some plants need tons of sunlight and warmth (sunflowers, tomatoes), and some prefer cooler temperatures and will tolerate some shade (peas, lettuce, spinach). Individual plants have different soil/mineral needs, are vulnerable to different diseases and pests, and require different amounts of space to grow successfully. Read seed packets, books, blogs, and talk to other gardeners to learn as much as you can.
- Gardening can be cheap, and also very expensive. Seeds, water, and basic soil are not very expensive, and you can obviously save a good bit of money by growing your own produce. But fertilizer or compost, insecticides, containers, and tools can get very pricey. I can say without a hint of exaggeration that I could walk into my local garden center today, and drop $1,000 without trying very hard. I would buy several beautiful, large containers, bags and bags of compost, potting soil, and fertilizers, fancy shovels, gloves, and rakes, and more. Instead I reuse as much soil as possible, compost my family’s yard and kitchen scraps, grow a cover crop, and received some free containers after posting a request to my local Freecycle group.
- Planning will save you time, money, and frustration. Because plants have different needs (see #1 above), learning what those are and creating a plan will help you meet their needs and minimize loss from mistakes. Carefully consider what makes sense for you to grow, where everything will go, and a timeline from planting. For example, I got stir-crazy last March, and planted a bunch of seeds all at once. I ended up losing a lot of seedlings because I started most of them way too early for our growing season. This year I planned out a timeline of what I’ll be starting, and when.
This post contains affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site, and cost you nothing. Thank you for supporting my blog!