Carrots can be direct seeded, but many vegetables are best bought as “starts”
I have a few tips I’ve really been wanting to share on organic vegetable gardening for beginners.
I’m going to lay out my 7 most important organic gardening tips for starting a vegetable garden.
- Full Sun. To me, full sun means at least 8 hours a day. I’m happy to have some areas that are just part sun (4 to 8 hours) where I can tuck in some lettuce, greens and certain herbs, but most of the main vegetables and fruits I want to plant need plenty of light and heat in order to photosynthesize. This is one of the more common vegetable gardening tips you’ll find, but a crucial one.
- Start Small. 100 square feet per person in your household is plenty to start. Even 50 square feet is okay. Many gardeners start out too big and then end up quitting, so an important tip about organic vegetable gardening for beginners is to start small. You can grow a lot of food in 100 square feet if you plant densely. Rather than planting 10 tomato plants, plant 1 or 2 indeterminate plants and treat them well, staking them up. You can get dozens of tomatoes from 1 plant if it’s happy.
- Good Soil. Much of the Smiling Gardener Academy goes into making great soil, but the basics of making good soil are incorporating a couple of inches of quality compost into the top few inches, maintaining a 2-4 inch layer of straw or leaf mulch (not bark, wood or stones), and providing adequate water.
- Buy Plants. You may eventually want to get into starting your own plants indoors, but it’s a bit finicky. For beginner vegetable gardening, I recommend buying most of your plants. You can get them for $0.25 to $3.00 per plant. Personally, I like to live a simple lifestyle without much stuff, so anymore, I don’t much bother stocking all of the things I need to start my own plants. When I have a property that allows me to set up a big food-producing garden, I’ll get back into it, but for now, I buy many plants and do a lot of direct seeding into the soil in spring, too.
- Fertilize. It takes years to build up good soil, so in the meantime while we’re starting a vegetable garden, liquid fertilizers are extremely beneficial. My 2 favorites are sea minerals and fish fertilizer. They provide a broad spectrum of nutrients instead of just the N-P-K of most conventional fertilizers. They are used throughout the growing season, often once a month.
- Microbes. I take one of the above fertilizers and mix them with a microbial inoculant such as compost tea or effective microorganisms, and a sugar source such as molasses. Microbes are just as important in our soil as organic matter and nutrients. I actually think about them before I think about fertilizing. The sugar source is important to feed the microbes. Microbes aren’t talked about as much, so this is one of the more unique tips about organic vegetable gardening for beginners.
- Water. Yes, it’s boring, but I always have to mention it. Water newly seeded areas daily and newly planted areas probably every 2-3 days. By late spring, water less often – 1-3 times a week – but more deeply to encourage roots to go down.
There you have it. Organic vegetable gardening for beginners. Any questions? Let me know below. And here are some of my favorite vegetable gardening articles.