Grow into Gardening, Plus a Giveaway

Each Tuesday in May we will have a guest post from Jessie Atchison, brand manager for Burpee Home Gardens,
about how to start your own vegetable garden. They are also giving away
eight complete garden starter kits. Click here for the original post and giveaway details.

So you want to grow your own vegetables this year? Great!
You’re not alone. According to the 2009 Edibles Gardening Trends Research
Report, nearly 7.7 million households were new to vegetable gardening in 2009. The key to a successful garden is to start out with one you can manage—and avoid biting off more than you can chew.

If you’re thinking about trying your hand at gardening this
year, here are a few things that can help make your experience a
rewarding one.

Start Small:
First-time gardeners can make the mistake of
planning an area that’s too large to maintain. Getting your feet wet with a small
garden makes it easy to expand from year to year. An
area of about six-by-eight-feet is a good start.  Or you might even consider starting with a single tomato
plant or a container garden.

Consider Your Time: Gardens do require a time commitment. You have to keep an eye out for any signs of damage or disease, so any problems can be caught early. Check often to see if your garden needs to be watered. When the soil an inch below the surface
is dry—every two or three days in summer—it's time to break out the watering can. Stake large plants to keep air
flowing around lower leaves, and pick fruit when ripe to ensure continuous
production. Don’t have that much time? Try container gardening instead. Many vegetables and herbs
are excellent in large pots for your sunny balcony or patio, and don't require the same commitment as a full backyard garden.

Choose the Right Spot: When selecting your location,
pick a spot with as much sun as possible (at least six hours each day). Close
proximity to a water spigot is ideal, too, whether you use a hose or watering
can. As you dig, remove as many stones as possible and all
grass and weeds. Also, break up any large clumps of earth with a garden spade
or metal pitchfork so your plant roots start strong. Adding compost and other
organic materials will both enhance your soil and increase your plants' output.

Like any project, growing vegetables and herbs requires
work. But by following a few basic skills and techniques, you can really make
gardening a fun and rewarding experience. Next week we'll take a look at choosing what to grow.

Don't forget to enter the Burpee Gardens giveaway by commenting on this post by Thursday, May 13th. And check back here on Friday, May 14th to see if you are one of our eight lucky winners.