You may have sensed slight desperation in my title. I am really in need of some help. I am doing a garden for the first time since I was a kid. My husband had one growing up also, but does not remember much. Everything I have read says start small. I read that a 16x10 or 16x20 would feed a family of 3-4 with maybe a little left for canning. I have a family of six mostly vegetarians and we don't eat canned food from the grocery store, so I need plenty left to can and freeze back. Currently, it takes about $1000.00 a month to feed us and that is all whole foods and mostly produce. So, I need tips on how to start this and not get totally overwhelmed by my ignorance. I do not have compost. We also want to avoid using chemicals if we can. Also, if there are any good sites or videos, please send links. I was leaning towards doing more of a raised garden. Is there any reason that would be a bad idea?
We eat a ton of vegetables. Vegetables we would be particularly interested in planting are:
The kids will eat any fruit we can grow ie watermelon, strawberries, cantelope.
We also use a ton of cilantro, parsley and dill in cooking.
Thank you for your help. Julia
The best advise I can give you is to just do something. Don't get real worried if your dirt is not perfect as to what the books say you need. To quote the movie Jurassic Park "Life will find a way" . I used soil I dug up on my property for my beds, its rocky and full of clay, yet I was very happy with my first years results. Not perfect, lost a lot of things but many things did very well. I have been slowly improving my soil (I think) using the compost from a bin we started a year ago.
Don't have to high of expectations for your first year either, it takes time getting things the way you want it. Start with one or two small beds, either raised or traditional both have advantages and disadvantages , doing to much to early will burn you out.
As to what you should plant that is up to you, I try to plant things I can not easily get other places like the farmers market. For example I don't grow California Wonder bell peppers, they are everywhere and (usually) cheap to buy. But try finding a heirloom pepper at the store.
Your first year or two I would recommend buying plants for your garden, its more expensive but starting seeds can be a little tricky at times.
Again tho the most important thing is to do something.
Welcome to gardening. There are several online sites that may be of help to you. First, depending on your location and the quality of your soil, you may want to consider raised beds rather than in ground gardening. I have a family of four and with 2 raised beds (4'x21' each) we have more than enough gardening area to grow all we eat and to can and freeze alot also. With the exception of corn which takes more area and tomato's which are easier to pick planted in the ground and tied to trelises, everything else is grown in those 2 beds. One good site is www.gardeningrevolution.com/. Len is local (strafford) and offers weekend classes on both his raised bed concepts and on canning and other gardening topics. My beds are not exactly like he reccomends, but I am fortunate to have good soil so don't have to go completely soiless. Most of the supplies he uses can be purchased direct from him (although that is costly) or can be purchased from local wholesale suppliers in this area. Another thing to consider is the type of plants and seeds... I am a member of seedsavers exchange. www.seedsavers.org Their site also has a lot of information and links to other resources. In fact I sell their seeds in two locations here locally and sell plants I start in my home greenhouse. I go all organic and only use Heirloom seeds. The Missour extention website http://extension.missouri.edu/ also has a lot of informtation about gardening on their site and it is specific to our area. Lastly, you can get good compost and mulch very cheaply (called MoPOST) (if you can haul it) from the city recylying facility. Details and availbility are on their site http://www.springfieldmo.gov/recycling/yardwaste.html Unfortunatly, I don't have my website online yet, but check out some of these other resources and feel free to get in contact with me if you have any other questions.