If you’ve been thinking about planting a garden to grow your favorite produce, now’s the time to do it. Before you get started, check out this Q&A with Melinda Myers, horticulturist and instructor for the Great Courses video series, “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening for Everyone,” and soon you’ll be chomping on fresh veggies that you grew yourself.
Q: Is organic soil best?
A: It’s somewhat of a personal preference. If gardening in the ground, use OMRI-certified organic materials to amend and fertilize. But that does not necessarily mean it is organic soil – it depends on what, if any, chemicals were applied to the soil prior to turning it into a vegetable garden. [You want] a well-drained soil that retains moisture – adding compost, aged manure, or peat moss increases drainage in clay and the water-holding ability in sandy or rocky soils.
Q: My garden measures only 10 x 12 – is that big enough to grow vegetables in?
A: You bet it is! Prioritize your plant selection by what vegetables you like to eat and cook with. Use your space to grow plants like tomatoes – you get lots of fruit from one plant, and with the bush or compact varieties, you can grow more in less space. Also, go vertical – grow pole beans, cucumbers, and squash on supports, which uses less space.
Q: How do I figure out how much to plant?
A: Look at seed packets and the backs of the plant tags for help with spacing. Many University Extension websites have planting recommendations. They explain which are the best cultivars for the area and how much to plant for a family of four.
Q: Should I start with seeds or plants?
A: Use seeds for plants that will mature within the growing season such as beets, radishes, kale, melons, squash, and cucumbers. Plants that take a long time to harvest from seed are typically started indoors (from seed) or purchased as plants from a garden center, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
Q: You’re supposed to plant after the last frost, but how do I know when that is?
A: The frost date varies from year to year, and most seasoned gardeners tend to add a week or two to the average last spring…