Good news for growers in our area—almost any annual vegetable or fruit can be grown in our climate! Your options are endless with the ability to grow within the Solanaceous Family (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes), the Cucurbit Family (squash, pumpkin, cucumbers, melons), and Small Fruit Family (strawberries, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries). Now is the time to plant the first seeds of the year, so if you’ve been thinking about growing your own produce, pick up some garden tools and get started! Here’s our beginner’s guide to help you get started:
- Chose Your Crop: With all these options, the first step is to decide what you want to grow. Make sure to choose something that you will eat!
- Choose A Location: Most fruits and vegetables require full sun, with a minimum of 5 hours of direct sunlight per day for fruiting. Keep the sun in mind when choosing a spot.
- Plan Your Garden Beds: Raised beds are attractive and may work easier for you, but they also dry out quicker. Sunken garden beds can be used in dry areas to capture moisture. Within the garden beds, place plants in a grid pattern with space to walk.
- Choose Your Soil: Check and see what soil your crops will need. What pH, nutrients, and type of soil does it require? Does it need sand, silt, clay, rocks, or a mixture of them all? Build your soil with the proper requirements, or you can start in reverse and test your soil first and choose the crops that correspond with it. As a rule of thumb, most plants prefer a deep, well-drained, fertile soil rich in organic matter with a pH of 7.
- Transplant Or Seed: Some plants do well being planted directly into the ground, but others need to be transplanted. Starting your own transplants is a great way to save money too! Plant seeds 3 times as deep as the diameter of the seed unless otherwise directed on the package. For transplants, plant them at the same depth they were growing in their previous pot. Don’t let your transplants grow in their original pots for too long, as the roots will begin to tangle and go into shock when planted into your garden. Wait until the danger of frost has passed to plant outside (right now)!
- Nurture Garden: Fertilize, de-weed, and water your garden. A rule of thumb for watering your plants is to give them 1 inch of water per week in the growing season. Overwatering is just as bad as underwatering, so check the soil before you begin!
- Harvest: Pick beans every 2-3 days and harvest tomatoes and peppers when they’re green. The flavor of crops is at its peak when the morning dew has cleared, but before the afternoon heat has settled in.
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