How much space?
So the first question you need to ask yourself, is how much space do I have available to grow in and how much of that space do I want to use. A lot of newbies make the mistake of thinking they can just do an entire garden, growing every seed type they can get their hands on.
My advice would be to start small, when I first started my kitchen garden, it was literally just a windowsill with some Cherry Tomato plants, this is how I got the bug and why I continue to grow. There was something about planting a few tiny little seeds, watching them grow and go onto produce literally 100’s of tomatoes that really made me want to do more.
From there I moved onto a single raised bed, from some wood I had in the garden. Just a small space about 3ft x 5ft.
The point I’m trying to get at is, the more things you’re trying to manage at once the less you’re going to learn about each individual crops needs and how they are best looked after. So just think of the things you would like to grow most and if you will actually eat them.
Some easy plants for beginners:
- Onions (Growing Onions from seed guide)
- Tomatoes (Growing Tomatoes from seed guide)
All of the above plants will produce some food for you, even if you do end up neglecting them. There’s many ways to improve your yields on each of those, but that can come later, once you know the basics.
So once you have decided on the area you want to use and the crops you want to grow, your next major decision is raised beds or directly into the ground.
Here’s a few advantages of each to help you decide.
- Easier on your back, less bending down so less strain.
- Pest control, the higher they are, the harder it is for rodents and insects alike to find your produce.
- Complete control over your soil content. You will be filling them, so you can ensure you have a good compost or soil in there.
- Weed control, much easier keeping on top of weeding.
Into the ground:
- Cheap or free to start, no material costs.
- Easier to change planting areas for crop rotation or if you decide it’s not for you, it’s easy to get rid of.
Whichever option you choose, you need to ensure you have good soil for the plants to thrive, if you’re doing a raised bed, fill that with some good multipurpose compost to start, if you’re planting into the ground, you could dig in some compost, manure of other fertiliser, it just depends on your budget and what’s available to you.
When to plant
This really depends on the time of year you want to start. When you have the time and space available for it, you will find many varieties of crops that can be started at different times of the year. The real growing usually begins at the start of spring, but for a beginner to get into it, you really can try a few things at any time of the year. Just be sure to check your seed pack for the starting times, or do some research on what can be planted in that given month.
So unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands and you know you’re going to love growing fruit and vegetables then start small. There’s no need to be rushing out buying a huge greenhouse, wheelbarrow, propagators and every seed type in the universe. This will all come with time, you can still get some great fun and good harvest from a good windowsill to a small garden plot.