Yes, we all know those people – the people who have enormous greenhouses and pick their first tomato before Easter. Not all of us can accomplish such feats, but the good news is, there are easy ways to plan your vegetable garden without getting overwhelmed before you even start. Here are some tips and ideas.
1. Choose easy vegetables
Some vegetables are easier to grow than others. The following vegetables are easy to grow from seed, but if you purchase seedlings they are even less trouble to grow.
- Pole beans
- Greens (chard, kale, spinach)
- Yellow squash
- Bell peppers
- Hot peppers
- Potatoes (you can even use that potato sprouting in the back of your pantry to start your plant!)
2. Choose vegetables that will grow in your area
You are likely to get overwhelmed if you try to grow vegetables that do not normally grow in your climate, or that are unsuited to the amount of moisture and sun you have. Here are some vegetables (and a few fruits) that grow well in various conditions.
- Lettuce, scallions, strawberries, blackberries can tolerate some shade.
- Hot peppers, ‘Sugar Baby’ watermelons, purslane and snap beans are heat and drought tolerant.
- Tomatoes and bell peppers require full sun (at least six hours a day).
3. Square foot gardening
This is a simple gardening method that can make your vegetable growing efforts easier and fruitful. A variation of the planter box, square foot gardening maximizes space and minimizes maintenance. Make a 4-foot square wooden frame from four 2″ x 6″ boards. Using more boards, divide the square into 1-foot square segments (there will be 16 segments).
Cover a 4-foot area with newspapers for weed control, set the frame on it, and fill with dirt. In each square segment, you can plant, for example, one tomato or bell pepper plant, 4 lettuces, or 9 beets. You can grow enough in one of these to keep you in salads all summer!
4. Seedlings instead of seeds
One of the things that can make garden planning stressful is that you have to begin so early in the season. In fact, if you are going to start seeds, it needs to be done in the middle or end of winter. Thus, you may feel rushed and overwhelmed if you miss seed-planting time. But not to worry – purchase seedlings instead, or purchase seedlings and start seeds even if it is a bit late. That will give you two yields, as your seedlings will bear fruit early in the season and the seeds you start will bear later.
5. Container gardening
If you go for containers, this relieves you of the task of tilling the earth and preparing the soil. You can also move your plants to get more sun during the day. The soil warms up more quickly in containers, so seeds can be sown directly in the containers rather than starting them indoors.