Eat! I Mean, Grow! Your Vegetables

by Kimberly Hickok

There are lots of good reasons to start a vegetable garden. For starters, you and your family will eat better. When you plant a garden you want to eat the produce. The last thing you want to do is throw it away. You’ll also get more exercise!

A garden will help you extend your grocery budget too and when you grow your own food you don’t have to worry about pesticides or if your food has been genetically engineered.

So, how do you get started? The first thing to do is to make sure that your garden fits your lifestyle. If you are super busy you are not going to take the time to maintain a large garden. Container gardens or a very small plot might be a better fit for you.

Next you want to grow only things that you know you will eat. If you are a first-time gardener, you may want to start out with a small salad and herb garden.

Now is the time to think about what you will want to plant. Where I live in upstate New York, we can still experience a ‘killing frost’ in May. A killing frost occurs when the temperature dips below 32°F. Some plants are hardy and can be planted before then. So do your research.

My recommendation is to plant a variety of things in small quantities. For our family of three, I try to make sure that we have something fresh to eat from June to November. Most of my herbs are perennials – sage, thyme, chives, sorrel and oregano. I will plant parsley and basil after Mother’s Day. That’s when the danger of a killing frost ends. The garlic is already 10″ high. Garlic gets planted in the fall and comes up in the spring.

Do yourself a favor and buy plants. Don’t bother with seeds unless you’re planting peas or something that you can’t get plants for. As a new gardener, you’ll have instant gratification. In a weekend, you can have an instant garden – and that’s cool!


Zucchini blossoms and baby zucchini

My little, but very productive, garden plot – Summer, 2009

If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to lend a hand to the best of my ability. And please feel free to share what you plan for your garden.

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Janice Doty April 23, 2010 - 7:59 pm

Kim– thanks for the memory jog! My goal this year is to get back into vegetable gardening–I did it years ago and just got out of the habit due to summer vacations. My plans include several raised beds (6-12″ tall) and possibly ‘square foot gardening’ where it is plotted out to ‘x’ many plants per sq ft to optimize planting.

I definitely agree to starting small–I think most people tend to over plant,especially with starting from seed, and then get overwhelmed and give up entirely.

I look forward to hearing your progress!

Kim April 23, 2010 - 9:25 pm

Janice – Please feel free to share your progress as well. I’d love to see how you implement the ‘square foot gardening’ system.

michele April 28, 2010 - 1:35 am

Hey Kim! We’re doing our little container garden again but focusing mostly on herbs this year- we’ve got apple mint, chocolate mint, and basil so far, but we’re also planning for peppermint, lavender, dill, sage, and chives. We’ve got raspberry and gooseberry plants too. And we may plant a few zucchinis or cukes and some strawberries.


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