Monday, January 30, 2006

Considerations For A First-Time Gardener

As promised, I am getting myself geared up for my first summer as a gardener. I have being doing a bit of research so that I will be prepared when the time comes. Plus, as I read, I realize that early preparation is the key to getting my garden together, and I do not want to find that I have waited too late to get anything done.

There are two key issues that I realize that I have to consider. The first is that I must use my space effectively. We have a backyard that will not be suitable for the planting. Plus, we are in this location for only two years, and I am not willing to put the work into long-term gardening plans because I know that this summer will be my only one with this garden. That said, the back area of our home is a concrete jungle because of how old our house is. With that said, I know that raised bed container gardening probably is the way to go, and the reality is that even with the back concrete area, space is at a premium.

That means that I have been gathering containers throughout the winter. Luckily my son has been drinking formula, so we have all of those tins. Plus my husband and I are big coffee drinkers, so we have those tins as well. We will be using the tins so that we can maximize the space. The part about using such containers, which can be plastic, metal, or even wood, is that we will be able to sit the plants wherever we would like them.

Considering foot traffic is not much of a concern for us, though it should be when planning a garden, because we will be using containers. People are not very likely to just step on your containers, so the plants should be pretty safe.

We have a ledge that is about five feet long and three feet deep, and that is where the tomato plants will go. Our job now is to plant crops that will work well in that area. We have decided that tomatoes and cucumbers will go there because we can pot the tomato plants and stalk them up. The cucumbers will (we hope) grow in a vine-like state down the side of the concrete barrier. Overall, it should look great.

Our other concern is what we will choose to plant. So cucumbers and tomatoes are on the ticket. We decided on that because we grew one tomato plant last year. We figure that we can grow another. Then there is the matter of difficulty of growing, which concerns us. We have talked to several people who grow cukes who say that they are pretty simple to grow. We have decided to give it a shot and see what happens.

When we are selecting other plants, however, such as what herbs we will grow, then we will need to pay a bit more attention. At your local nursery, you should find that you will have plenty of information readily available. The person who works there should be able to tell you what your climate zone is, which will help you narrow down the plants you want to grow. Remember that just because a plant is in the nursery does not mean that it is native to your region.

If you are in your first gardening season, then you probably want to stick to native plants. They will not need as much care, and you can learn the basics with them. Once you know your zone, then you should look at the plant tags. Find out about water, sunlight, and other requirements the plants have and make sure that you can provide that type of care. There are plants that you will have to water everyday while others will be okay just left out with the rainfall.

Be sure that you do your homework when you are a first-time gardener. You likely will find, like we are finding, that less is more in the beginning. Space and the type of plants you are considering are the most important considerations. Once you have those issues covered, all should be well.

By Julia Mercer

No comments: