June means it’s time to get planting! This can feel really overwhelming, especially if it's your first-time gardening! But, not to worry, we've got you covered!
With years of growing experience, Katherine and Ally-Sue from The North Grove’s community farm are sharing their top 10 gardening tips to help you get your vegetable garden growing this summer!
1. Organize your garden for success.
Did you know that certain veggies don't get along? That's right, when you're planning the layout of your garden consider which vegetables grow well together and which do not. For example, onions and beans should not be planted together. Check out this companion planting guide to learn more!
2. Check what time/season to plant.
One of the biggest challenges to growing a successful garden is figuring out the timing of when to plant. Certain plants are cold-hardy and don’t mind or even prefer the cooler weather, and some can only be planted when the soil reaches a warm enough temperature.
You’ll also need to know that there are enough days left in the season to grow your plant to maturity, something that's particularly important during Fall planting. For example, parsnips need four months to grow to harvest, so you’ll want to start them at least four months before the end of the garden season.
3. Seed or Seedling?
There are 2 ways to plant: Direct seeding is simply sowing seeds directly into your garden. Transplanting is starting your seed ahead of time, usually indoors or in a greenhouse, and planting the whole seedling into your garden. Here are some general rules:
Plant as seeds: radishes, carrots, beans, beets, zucchini, peas
Plant as seedlings or seeds: lettuce, kale, swiss chard, cucumber
Plant as seedlings: tomatoes, peppers
4. Give your plants some space
Spacing is important because if you don’t give vegetables enough space, they won’t grow to their full potential. If you give them too much space, you won’t be maximizing the use of your plot.
You can check on the back of your seed packets for the recommended spacing. You can also use the guide below to help you estimate what you'll be able to fit in your garden.
(Bonus tip: Use your seed packet - it can be a wealth of knowledge, providing things like seed depth, plant space, number of days until sprout/maturity and when to start the plant)
5. Water and label your plants right away
Make sure to water your seeds immediately after planting, as the soil must be wet for seeds to germinate. After the seeds are planted, water them every other day at first, and then 2-3 times/week, watering more if it is hot. Remember, rain is sometimes too light to give your plants enough water, so sometimes you might find yourself watering after or even during a light drizzle.
As a general rule, water your plants more than you think! Check that your plants have enough water, by sticking your finger into the soil at least 2 inches. If it’s dry far down, give your plants a water.
6. Don't forget to weed your garden
Use a tool to pull out the weeds in your garden, making sure you get the roots out. How do you know what is a weed? Well, look at your seed packet to check what your plant is meant to look like. Wait until the potential weed is 1" tall so you can be sure it is a weed, and then make sure to pull it out before it goes to seed.
7. Add compost anytime
Compost is always good for your garden. You can add it before, during or after planting. You can also try fertilizers after you've planted - be sure to read the instructions on the container.
8. Pull some, plant some!
A common mistake that beginner gardeners make is that they plant only once in the season. You can plant new vegetables all season long so that you always have something to harvest. The key is to pull out old plants once they are done and replant new ones in their place.
(Bonus tip: Be sure to replant lettuce, radishes, spinach and beets as they grow relatively fast)
9. Don't be shy when it comes to harvesting!
When it comes to things like peas, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis - the more you pick, the more will grow!
For leafy greens and herbs, you can harvest half by cutting the outer parts near the root, leaving the central leaves intact so it continues to grow. For lettuce, you can also cut the whole plant and it will re-grow.
For root vegetables, remove the whole thing (and replant)!
10. Try, try and try again!
A lot of gardening is trial and error. So don't be discouraged if some things go wrong. And remember, if some of your plants don't grow or die - you can always pull them and plant again!
If you want to share any of your own gardening tips, please respond in the comments below!