Hey Millennial friends! Some people give you a bad rap for always being on computers and not out in nature enough- they are so wrong! Millennials comprise 80 percent of the 6 million people that took up gardening last year. You embrace experience over objects, and putting a seed in the ground, helping it grow and eventually eating the food you picked from that plant, is a pretty amazing experience. Nature is amazAing! And the taste of homegrown food is an experience on its own. They taste nothing like the waxy sanitized store-bought food that was harvested weeks before it was truly ready to eat.
Millennials want gardening to be easy and produce food. Which is totally do-able with these great tips and advice.
Containers or Not?
Your garden is what you make it. You can have a container garden off the balcony of an apartment, you can have a vertical garden planter in your kitchen nook, or a large outdoor garden in your yard. Certain vegetables work well in pots such as: Herbs, carrots, peppers, lettuces, strawberries, onions, peas and beans. They have a short root system.
Other plants need a COSTCO size container or are planted in the dirt to have plenty of space for their roots to grow. These plants are tomatoes, potatoes, raspberries, corn, garlic, broccoli, melons, squashes, and asparagus.
Depending on the space you have and crops you want, figure out where your garden will be.
If you are using containers use a bag of potted soil. There are so many options at your local hardware store. 90% of them are the same thing and will work perfectly.
If you are planting a garden you probably need to alter your soil before planting. You will care about the following:
Texture: Grab dirt in your hand and squeeze, then let go.
- If the soil falls apart, it won’t hold any water and is too sandy. Add more grass clippings, compost, or manure to your soil.
- If the soil sticks to itself like playdoh it is too clay-like, and roots won’t be able to grow well and will likely rot. Add sand to the soil to loosen it up.
- If your soil is a mixture of this, kind of together, kind of crumbling, it is perfect.
Your soil probably needs some air before you start planting. Each spring you will want to till the dirt. This is just loosening it and allowing air to get in it. Use a hand rake, or a tiller to stir up your dirt and give it a deep breath.
How much you water will change with the season. In the spring plants needless, they are smaller and the days aren’t that hot. In the summer I double my watering schedule because the hot July days soak up so much of the water from my now large plants. In the fall you will pull back again.
Start out watering every other day for 5-10 minutes. Watch your plants. If they seem to be wilting, but have soft leaves they are getting too much water. If they are wilting by crispy they are getting too little water.
Check them weekly to see what you need to tweak. As your plants grow tall, their roots grow deep and longer infrequent waterings will be needed.
Plants are tough little guys, if you think it looks dead, hang on to it, you might just nurse it back to health.
Obviously, your plants need sun, but “cool” plants need less of it and benefit by being planted near a fence or receive some shade from a tree. “Warm” plants need more sun and do best in the sunniest spot. These warm plants also don’t do well outdoors until the end of May. Never plant a tomato before Mother’s Day, it will die of cold night temperatures.
Warm Plants: melons, cucumber, corn, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, raspberries, strawberries, spinach, pumpkin.
Cool Plants: carrots, beets, lettuce varieties, cauliflower, asparagus, peas, garlic, onions, rhubarb, radish.
Once you have chosen what plants you want to grow, and your soil is ready, purchase seeds or the actually plant. I would avoid big box stores and go to a nursery, or purchase online from a nursery such as burpee.com. So many of my friends say they have a black thumb and kill their plants. In reality, they bought a plant that was barely living and wasn’t as strong as it should be.
Each plant is different. Corn needs to be planted 1 ½ inches deep in the soil and 1 foot apart from other plants. Carrots need to be planted ¼” deep with only 2 inches apart. Read the packaging of your plant or seeds to find out how far apart to space your plants, and how deep to plant them in your soil. If you can’t find this information google it.
Once your garden is set, keep watching it closely for water tweaking.
Weed the garden as well. Weeds not only will try to choke and kill your plants, but the fruit it produces can have a bitter taste. There is no magic week preventer, although many companies claim they have it. Some help, but they are not a 100% weed preventor at all.
You have bugs in your soil, more so than potted gardens. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Use natural pesticides to ward off the bad ones without killing your plants and altering the ecosystem dramatically. A mixture of 1 cup vegetable oil and 1 TBSP mild soap, and 1 quart of water can be sprayed to get rid of aphids, mites and other obnoxious bugs. Spreading diatomaceous earth around plants can also create a natural barrier that bugs can’t cross. It works wonders in humid places where slugs and snails are problems.
Each crop has a different harvest time. Generally pick your fruit at the end of the day, after it has been sunbathing all day. Harvest on your non-water days as well. If you pick them right after watering you can have a freshly watered-down taste to your produce. Rub off any dirt, but don’t rinse or scrub any of your food until right before you are going to eat them. This keeps them fresh longer.
Start your garden small in the first year. Pick 2-3 different plants and buy at least two of each in case one doesn’t last.
If you have any other questions search my site for an article that probably addressed your question. I wish you the best of luck planting and hope you have an amazing harvest!
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