- Don't let space stop you from starting your own garden. Small crops like lettuces, strawberries, herbs and tomatoes grow very well in containers on your deck, patio, windowsill or even a fire-escape.
- Talk to other gardeners in your area before getting started. Since you share similar sun and soil conditions, often times what works for them is likely to work for you.
- Get your garden started early by planting seeds indoors in a warm room with plenty of sunlight. Transplant your seedlings outdoors as soon as danger of frost is gone.
- Plant early vegetables like greens, lettuces and radishes every couple of weeks for a continous spring (or early summer) harvest. You'll see sprouts in 5 to 14 days, a signal to plant another row of seeds to enjoy your harvest week after week.
- Fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies need little help in the kitchen to become a flavorful meal. Always start with the freshest ingredients (the freshest ingredients of all are the ones you grow yourself)!
- Fresh herbs add flavor, color and nutrients to every meal.
- Herbs are great for beginners. Start with hearty herbs like rosemary, mint and thyme, that can survive indoors or out year-round. More delicate herbs like basil prefer the great outdoors and lots of sunshine.
- Most herbs love sunlight, so whether you plant indoors or out, in a container or in the ground, make sure they get plenty of sun and water.
- Plant prolific herbs like mint in containers to keep them from taking over your garden.
- Berries taste the best when they are sun-ripened in season. Celebrate summer with fresh, locally grown berries which pack a delicious antioxidant punch into salads, muffins, cereals, pancakes, preserves and pies.
- Conventional berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so growing your own is the best way to ensure delicious, and chemical-free berries for all your summer salads, pies and preserve.
- Store berries dry, in shallow layers in the refrigerator. Wash just before serving or using, but not before storing.
- It takes a few years to see the payoff of planting fruit bushes and vines like blueberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes or grape vines, but you will be rewarded down the road with bushels of berries with twice the flavor of supermarket berries and a fraction of the cost (virtually free).
- Plant spring and fall root vegetables in alternating rows. Pull your spring veggies like radishes early, giving your carrots and beets lots of extra space to grow plump by the fall harvest.
- Root vegetables spend months deep in the soil, so make sure you use organic soil and compost for the most nutritious, delicious vegetables.
- Kitchen scraps like veggie peals, coffee grinds and egg shells offer wonderful, organic nutrients for the soil. Keep a kitchen compost bucket nearby and empty every few days into your garden compost or a community compost program to turn your leftovers into tomorrow's harvest. No meat or bones!
- Keep your garden pure with only pure, organic seeds, soil, topsoil and compost, which makes for the tastiest and healthiest fruits and veggies.
- Growing a variety of crops is good for the soil, and you. Rotate plants from seasons to season.
- Save the seeds from your most flavorful fruits and vegetables to plant next year's garden.
- Rotating crops and planting a diverse, biodynamic garden is the best way to keep the soil and you healthy! Planting in cycles helps ensure an abundant harvest all season long.
- Ask the growers in your local farmer's market where they buy their seeds, and what varities of plants grow well in your area. They are your best resource for growing strong, healthy gardens and getting the most local tips for your climate.
- Plant in cycles. Cool weather plants like radishes, greens, lettuces, and peas can be planted as soon as the ground is thawed enough to work. Enjoy their early harvest, then plant later-season veggies like carrots, beets, squashes, peppers and tomatoes in their place.
Short, General Gardening
- Choose hearty herbs like rosemary and lavendar and work your way up to fruiting plants and vines.
- Plant prolific, high-yield varieties to maximize the harvest from your space.
- Monitor sunlight and water carefully. Be sure to read sunlight requirements on seed packets before starting.
- Buy organic seeds and soil. Turning a garden organic is much more difficult than starting out that way.
- Start with the best seeds and soil possible, preferably organic.
- Start more delicate plants from seedlings, easy to find in a farmer's market, nursery or garden supply store.
- Recycable paper as a ground cover keeps weeds at bay, locks in moisture/water into the soil and keeps it warm.
- Talk to other gardeners in your area. Chances are you share similar sun and soil conditions, and what works for them is likely to work for you.
- Plan ahead. Peas or vining plants like cucumbers and squash will need space to creep and crawl, so plant them near a fence or plan for a trelace to give them room to grow. Bushy plants like rosemary and pepper will grow in girth throughout the season and from one season to the next (perrinials) so give them the breathing room they need to expand.
- Mulch ado about nothing: Many plants benefit from mulch at their roots.
- Some greens, like sorrel, are susceptible to creepy crawlers who eat their tender leaves. Surrounding the root with sand deters this, since the little creatures don't like the feeling of the sand and will stay away.
- Plant radishes every two weeks for a constant harvest in many stages, from radish shoots (which give a great, spicy edge to your salad greens) to full-grown radishes, for weeks on end.