Hi! My name is Colleen and I’m the author of Frenchie Farm, a blog dedicated to urban homesteading, healthy living, and clean eating. My husband, Ben, and I live on our family farm in the Chicago suburbs with our toddler, 2 french bulldogs, 2 goats, and 10 chickens.
I’m a city girl at heart and never anticipated that I would fall in love with a more simplified lifestyle. When my husband asked me to move to his family’s farm about three years ago, I thought he was crazy. I lived in Chicago for 5+ years, and I wasn’t on board with suburban living, let alone living on a farm. Somehow my persuasive husband convinced me that it was a good idea, and I’m so glad that he did. We remodeled his grandparents’ old house into the farmhouse of our dreams and dove head first into creating a homestead of our own.
When Amanda reached out and inquired if I would be interested in writing a “Beginners Guide to Gardening” post, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Although gardening comes naturally to my husband, I’ve always struggled to succeed at it. I was determined to develop my own green thumb when we started our homestead, and I’m so happy to share the following gardening tips. I promise that these 6 tips are beginner friendly and will help you create the garden of your dreams!
STEP 1: Seeds versus Plants
If you are a beginner gardener, then I would strongly recommend purchasing mature adult plants rather than growing vegetable plants from seeds. Although planting a garden from seeds is a more cost efficient option, it also requires significantly more planning and prep work, which can be tricky for a beginner gardener.
STEP 2: Do your Research Before Purchasing Plants
Taking time to prepare and plan for your garden is essential for success! Before you head out to the nearest store and randomly start purchasing vegetable plants, consider the following:
- Keep in mind your climate and the length of your growing season - this will be dependent on where you live geographically
- Create a list of best suited plants for your geographic location - be sure to do a quick Google search to determine which plants thrive in your climate zone
STEP 3: Planning your Garden Space
Determine how much space you want to dedicate to your garden.
- Are you planting in pots or directly in the ground? Some plants excel in pots (i.e. strawberries because you can easily control the water intake), while other plants thrive in the ground (i.e. pumpkins, squashes, and gourds perform better when planted directly in the soil because it provides them adequate space while also giving stems direct soil contact)
- Each vegetable plant has different spacing guidelines. Be sure to read the instruction tag on the vegetable plant before planting!
- Do your best to resist the urge to plant your veggies too close together. Confession - we still get really excited when planting our veggies and sometimes try to squeeze in a few extra ones. DON’T! Overcrowding vegetable plants will prevent your veggies from reaching maturity, so it’s definitely not worth it.
STEP 4: Purchase Necessary Materials
Now that you’ve taken the time to research and plan, it’s time to purchase your planting materials! The below items can be used as a general guide, but be sure to reference your specific gardening plans when creating your own list:
- Planters (if using)
- Organic garden soil
- Gardening gloves
- Small garden shovel
- Watering can
- Labels (if you have a larger garden, it can be easy to forget what you purchased!)
- Tomato Cage/Trellis (if applicable) - check out our blog for a DIY version that we recently made!
- Patience (HA, my husband thought I should add this bullet point because I’m the most impatient person when it comes to waiting for plants to grow!)
STEP 5: Plant your Garden
The day is here, it’s time to plant! Refer back to your specific gardening plans and START PLANTING!
- Remember, be sure to read the instruction tag on the vegetable plant before planting.
- Follow the instructions on the tag and have fun!
STEP 6: WATER & WEED!
The hard work of researching, planning, purchasing, and planting is behind you. Now you need to make sure those vegetable plants stay healthy and keep growing!
- Water your plants every day for the first week.
- After the first week, you can get away with watering a few times a week. As long as the soil is always moist, your vegetables should continue to thrive.
- I tend to avoid this one, but don’t forget to weed your garden! If weeds take over, your plants won’t grow and thrive.
STEP 7: ENJOY!
Seriously, fresh produce from your garden tastes amazing. Not only is it super satisfying to know that you’ve grown your own (organic!) food, the taste and overall quality of the food is unlike anything you can purchase from the grocery store. Enjoy those yummy veggies and consider dehydrating, canning, or freezing the extras to have on hand all year round.
Well friends, I hope you’re feeling motivated and excited to start planning your garden! I would love for you to stop by Frenchie Farm to let me know how your garden turns out this year. I’m happy to answer any questions and most importantly, have fun!