It’s pretty fabulous that sustainable living is now “in vogue”. Lately, more than ever, I’ve been seeing new faces at Royal City Nursery asking about growing their own food from home. It’s really heartening to see this kind of interest, especially from the younger crowd who tell me they used to survive on McDonald’s and Starbucks. Since there are so many folks getting started with vegetable gardening this year, it seemed like the right time to get all my thoughts on edible gardening together.
The average vegetable gardening beginner may likely also be a beginner to any kind of gardening, so the goal today will be to keep it simple. If you’re just starting out, you’ve made a great choice! Growing your own food is healthier for the environment in so many ways, saves you a ton of cash, and the freshness and flavour are unparalleled. Before you can experience the fruits of your labour, however, you have to stick with it— and to stick with it, you have to fall in love with it. Today’s focus will be on building a bond with your vegetable garden.
How to Start a Vegetable Garden
If you’re already a “plant parent” to a houseplant, you may already feel somewhat of a connection with plants. Houseplants are a little bit like pet fish— you can’t really cuddle them, and they can’t ask you for food. Chances are, when you got your plant, it was already fairly mature. You really have to love your plant to commit to caring for it properly.
Vegetable gardens, if we’re still comparing plants to pets, are more like puppies than fish. They demand more work, but watching them grow is an experience that nourishes your soul. When they reach maturity, the results are profoundly rewarding.
Lucky for you, your vegetable garden won’t “go” in the house or wake you up in the middle of the night, but it will need a schedule. It also needs a proper enclosure, food, and water. It won’t need walks, but it still needs to feel the sun on its face. If you used to think of plants as inanimate objects, you’re about to have your world ROCKED at how beautiful, resilient, and very much alive your vegetable plants are.
Now, let’s get set up. You’ll need:
A garden plot. This could be a section of your backyard, or a raised bed (you can build one or buy a prefab from the garden centre). If you’re a condo-dweller or otherwise limited in space, no worries. You can absolutely grow great veggies in containers.
Your choice of veggies. Some veggies are easy to grow from seed, others may be simpler to buy as young plants here at Royal City Nursery. Whichever you choose, go with the ones you know you’ll love to eat.
Knowledge of our region’s frost dates. Most veggies can take a bit of a beating (they do live outdoors, after all) but the only time they should get frosty is in your freezer after harvest time!
A list of the sunlight needs of each plant. Making a list from the get-go will help you plan where in your space each veggie should go.
Another list of the soil requirements of each plant. Plants, in general, have their own specific ideal soil conditions, and veggies are no different. Soil conditions include things like acidity (pH balance), soil texture (like loam or clay), and drainage (though most prefer soil that drains easily). Veggies that share soil requirements and light needs can be planted in the same plot.
The moisture requirements of each plant. Some plants are heavy drinkers, others prefer a little time between watering. As you care for your plants, you’ll develop a feel for how much water they seem to thrive on best. In the meantime, writing it down helps a lot.
Notes on the other recommendations for your veggie plants. Include stuff like spacing requirements, how often to fertilize, what kind of fertilizer to use, and how to tell when they’re ready to harvest.
If it sounds like a lot to worry about now, take comfort in the fact that a lot of this stuff only needs to be done once per year! Don’t be shy about talking to one of our garden specialists and letting them know your plans. We love helping people get set up, and everyone at Royal City Nursery is passionate and knowledgeable about growing healthy plants. We can recommend products to you, answer your questions, and offer suggestions so setting up your first vegetable garden is simple and fun—as it should be!
Easy Vegetables to Grow from Seed
Personally, I never get tired of growing plants from seeds. There is just no feeling in the world like watching those little green shoots peek out from the soil, and watching them grow bigger every day. If that sounds fascinating to you, these vegetables might be a good fit. They can be planted directly into the soil after the last frost or started indoors a few weeks early for a head-start. Each of these veggies is relatively easy to grow and suitable for beginners.
- Bell Peppers
Vegetables to Grow from Starter Plants
Some plants, for one reason or another, are just hard to start from seed. Sometimes they come from plants that need to be started from a cutting rather than a seed, sometimes they’re just tricky to germinate. Whatever the case may be, we carry the younger version of these plants that you can transplant into your garden plot, or simply keep in a container garden.
- Green onions
Vegetables Not Recommended for Beginners
While it’s not impossible to grow these plants, they might be a little much for a fresh gardener. When you’re ready for a challenge, you might want to give a few of these a try.
If you’ve been considering becoming a vegetable gardener, I hope this has reassured you that you’re on a great track. You’ll be amazed at all the benefits that will come out of growing your own food that you hadn’t even considered— like having something new to bond with your mom or grandmother over and having to make fewer trips to the grocery store.
Cheers to you for starting this amazing journey! Go forth, and dig in!