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Tips from the Farm: your first vegetable garden

Starting a vegetable garden is a great way to reduce your grocery bills, spend more time outdoors and enjoy plenty of fresh, healthy produce.

A new hand at being a green thumb? Here are 7 tips from the farm gate to get you started.

For the first-time grower, however, the prospect of starting a garden can be a little intimidating. Use these tips to get started down the right path.

 

1. Start small

You don't have to grow everything all at once. Pick three crops to try growing this year, and add some more next year after you're more experienced.

 

2. Consider prices when choosing crops

Some vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, are very inexpensive in the grocery store. Others, like broccoli and lettuce, are more costly. You'll save the most money if you grow the crops that are expensive and purchase the cheaper ones at the store or farmer's market.

 

3. Pick varieties well-suited to your area

There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, capsicum, corn, lettuce and other crops. Research varieties you're considering growing, and make sure they do well in your area before you plant.

 

4. Talk to your neighbors who garden

They may tell you which varieties to choose, and they might even have tips for which nurseries and gardening stores to visit for the best deals.

 

5. Don't be ashamed to purchase seedlings

Some vegetables are difficult to grow from seed, and you'll have better luck if you purchase seedlings from a local nursery. Once you gain more gardening experience, you can begin starting your own seeds.

 

6. Take notes

Keep track of what varieties you plant, when and where you plant them, how rapidly they grow, and when you make a harvest. These notes will prove valuable as you improve your gardening techniques for the next year.

 

7. Start composting

Even if you don't have a compost tumbler, you can start composting in a heap in your back yard. Toss all of your food scraps, lawn clippings and dead leaves into the pile. Once it's all broken down, work it into your garden soil to add valuable nutrients.

 

Gardening is a very rewarding pastime. The more time you spend in your garden, the more you will learn. As you gain experience, your crops will grow larger and you'll be able to handle growing more varieties. In the beginning, it's important to start small and not get ahead of yourself. Keep these tips in mind, and stay positive as you prepare for an exciting first gardening season.
 

Have a gardening tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment below or head over to Forums to join the conversation there!

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