The new year is here and it is time to get that vegetable garden that you have always dreamed of, off the ground. Make this year a more successful gardening season with these simple, realistic goals.
1. Start Small
List the vegetables you plan on growing so you can do some research on individual crops. Some vegetables don’t like growing next to one another, others don’t like too much water and others like tomatoes, do not like frost. Once you have your list, give yourself permission to start small, especially if you are new to the practice. Resist the temptation to dig up your whole yard and planting every crop there is to grow in town! You will only be setting yourself up for failure! Add one or two new plants at a time, rather than lots of plants you’re unfamiliar with. Gardening is no rocket science, but it does take learning. So pace yourself – there is no substitute for experience.
2. Grow what you like to eat
What do you most like to cook and eat? There’s no reason to grow fields of pumpkin (trust me—it happens!) if you don’t love the stuff. Grow things that you and your family love.
3. Think solutions
Think solutions and do not allow yourselves to be overwhelmed by problems. Take a pen and paper and make a list of all the things that may make it difficult for you to achieve your garden goals this year. Next brainstorm creative solutions. If for example, you don’t have enough space consider growing your garden in pots and containers. Perhaps you have no idea of where to start, get a mentor to guide you along. This process is very empowering and you will be surprised with the outcome.
4. Be curious
Be curious! Listen to the birds and notice the insects in your garden. Find out their names, and why they are there. Observe the sun and its patterns, it is after all the most important aspect in your garden. Pay attention to your plants, do they look happy or are they stressed, what can you do to help them? Make time daily to walk barefoot, this will not only help you connect with everything around you, but you will also learn SO much about your garden.
5. Build healthy soil
The biggest part of your job as a gardener is to build good healthy soil. In the rush to grow our own food this extremely important step is often overlooked, yet it can make a difference between a great garden and a so-so garden!
6. Do the work
“I don’t have green fingers!”. “I cannot grow anything, everything I touch dies!”
I sometimes wonder if these are excuses to get ourselves as far away from gardening as possible. In other words, we like the look and feel of the garden, but we have no intention of doing work in the garden! Your beautiful garden will not grow by wishful thinking. This season commit to getting out there and doing the work!
7. Learn a new garden skill
Set yourself a goal to improve your knowledge this year. Take a course, read books and try DIY solutions. Learn how to harvest and save seeds, propagate new plants, or grow a new crop you have never tried before.
8. Get the whole family involved
Get the whole family involved, bring the kids along. Some of my fondest childhood memories are in my father’s garden. I remember watching my father grow food for us, all from seed. I remember discovering plant names, I must have been 8 when I first learned about the bright coloured nasturtiums. This is how I learned to connect the dots between vegetables in the garden and food on our table. Today, I love passing my passion and knowledge to my children.
9. Add that wow factor
Gone are those days where flowers are planted in the front yard and vegetable gardens are tucked away in the backyard with their long and uninteresting rows hidden from the neighbours. Add a wow factor to your vegetable garden by growing flowers. There are so many varieties to choose from. Plus, planting flowers in your vegetable garden will help support pollination and improve its biodiversity. You can also plant flowers specifically to attract butterflies, bees, birds, or repel undesirable pests.
10. Celebrate milestones
Last, but certainly not least, remember to stop and celebrate milestones, no matter how small. Celebrate when your seeds sprout, celebrate when you harvest your first fruit or make a whole lunch with your own homegrown ingredients.
These are my suggestions for setting goals this year. What are you looking forward to doing in your garden this year?