I'd been waiting patiently for Memorial Day weekend because it marked the date when I could plant my first (ever!) vegetable garden here in New England. Being conscious of where our food comes from has been on all of our minds lately and I am very happy to be following suit by preparing my summer's bounty. Read on for a few practical notes on starting a garden after the jump.
Visit Your Local University's Garden Center On-Line
The most comprehensive gardening resource I have found is through the Garden Education Center at the University of New Hampshire. For those outside of the state, here is a list of other New England University Garden Centers.
They provide accurate, state-specific information on basics such as where to plant a vegetable garden, to the possible overlooked list of harmful insects, to the complete outline of all successful crop varieties and their harvest times. These centers usually provide soil testing for a small cost as well, which is essential to starting your garden. You can also visit your local Agway for free soil testing but they only test the PH, which is only part of the equation.
Ask Your Neighbors
A while ago I read that gardening is the most common hobby in the US, so if you see your neighbors out in their yards tending their plants, introduce yourself. If they love to garden most likely they also love talking about their garden and they can share tips, regrets, and different approaches in what will most likely be the same, if not a very similar, environment to yours.
Start Small and Take Your Time
Only grow the very things you are excited to eat as an incentive to do the work required. Naturally, the bigger the garden, the bigger the commitment. For my first garden I am starting with herbs (which I can't live without) beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and summer squash. It's minimal I know, but I do not want to be overwhelmed.
Keep at It
It took a while to learn to care for my house plants so this will be no different in that there will be trial and error. If my garden yields less than bountiful results, there is always next year, and the soil will be all the richer.
Image: Violet Marsh