One of my favorite memories of my grampa has him sitting at the kitchen table, gnawing on the end of his cigarette while the rototiller idled noisily in the back yard. I have no idea why he’d let it sit there running for so long, especially since it was a horrible noise and even worse smell, but there you have it. After the farm-perfect rows and furrows were planted, he’d tediously weed, water, and await the coming of the horn worms. His tomatoes were huge, juicy, and heavenly.
This is wear my love of gardening began. This is where I learned to listen to plants to learn what they needed and where they would be happiest spreading their roots and stretching their branches. When I was grown and had my own home, I spent all my spare time designing my flower gardens – all to no avail, thanks to my German Sheppard who loved the cool soil and soft flowers I’d just laid out for his afternoon nap.
Thanks to the endlessly changing tides of our lives, I now have the garden of my dreams (though scaled down to suburban living), which elicits much appreciated oohs and aahs and questions. Reading between the lines of these questions, I have come to the conclusion that people who did not grow up in a family of gardeners believe that gardening is a huge, expensive, time consuming endeavor. They don’t realize it can be as simple and inexpensive as putting a plant in a pot of dirt on the patio. What’s that cost – $10, including the pot? Three minutes a day of TLC, on average? Yes, if you want a small farm to sprout up in your back yard it will cost a bit more and take considerably more time, but most people simply want a few tomatoes and maybe a pepper plant.
So, for my dear friends who are afraid to take the first step into the garden…
The basics of vegetable gardening, on the cheap and easy:
- pick your spot,
- dig a hole twice the size of the ball of roots that comes out of the seedling pot,
- plant your seedling, filling the hole with soil you bought at your favorite big box store,
- press the soil firmly around the base of the plant,
- check your plant the next day and water again, as long as the soil is not soggy from the day before,
- water your plant daily for the next week or so, then you can slack off on watering.
- It’s a good idea to check your plant(s) daily, so make this quick trip to the back yard part of your after work routine. It takes 2 minutes and can prevent any problems, like forgetting to water for too many days in a row.
What to do – a little more detailed:
strong>Pick your spot:
- Most plants need as much sun as they can get for at least half the day.
- The amount of space you have for your veggie garden will determine how many plants you can grow.