It’s time to get your hands dirty

Want to start a vegetable garden? Here’s how

All the unseasonably warm weather gives old and new gardeners that itch to get out in the garden. Is winter over? I guess that is for Mother Nature to decide, but in the meantime, our thoughts turn to seeds and seed starting.

These days it seems like everyone is veggie gardening. If the vegetable bug hasn’t quite bitten, perhaps this is the year for you to get a little dirty and grow some delicious and simple vegetables.

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Anyone and everyone can grow vegetables. Long gone are the days where the common thought was you needed tons of room to garden. People are growing all kinds of things in containers, raised beds, and small garden spaces. Probably more than most small families need.

The biggest and most common mistake made by new gardeners is starting out too big. It is easy to get overwhelmed by your garden. Veggies gardening should be fun. We all lead busy lives and the idea of your vegetable beds becoming an onerous chore to water, weed, thin and pick will make any mere mortal throw in the towel.

I find that a single raised bed is a great place to start. I like to keep raised vegetable beds to a three-foot width so I can easily get around all sides to work on the garden. If you make your veggie beds too wide, you will have to climb in and tromp on the soil, which defeats the purpose of raising them.

Choose a site in your garden that receives at least six hours of sun a day. Vegetable and fruits need sun to grow. If your site doesn’t meet that requirement, try to find a different location.

I love raised beds or containers. The soil tends to warm up faster and it really does help to keep weeds down to a minimum.

I read a great quote about vegetable gardening once that said “feed the soil, not the plants.” Vegetables are heavy feeders and rely on good soil with lots of organic matter. Dig in lots of compost, manure or another nutrient-rich medium to get your plants off to a good start.

Make a list of the food you and your family like to eat. In early March, you can directly sow radishes, broad beans and mustard greens and peas in your garden (weather-dependant ). In late March or early April, you can plant cabbage, salad blends, peas, beets, parsnips, radishes and spinach.

For the first-time gardener, I would suggest directly sowing your seeds into the ground. Warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, squashes and peppers can be bought at a local nursery as plants. When you become more adept at sowing seeds and creating an indoor growing space it is fun to try these vegetables from seed. These plants can be planted in late May and early June.

Where there is a garden, there are weeds. These pests rob moisture and nutrients from your precious vegetable plants, so once your garden starts to grow, stay on top of the weeding.

When purchasing seeds, try to choose a local company whose seeds are meant for coastal conditions. Most local seed companies include a planting chart which is a very helpful tool to help you decide what to plant and when. Happy planting.

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@ Copyright Squamish Chief

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