Simple guidelines for a successful garden

Gardening at home is a great way to eat healthy foods while getting up close and personal with nature. Not only do you save money (you’re buying a few plants rather than the produce all season), but you’ll also find that the flavor and texture of garden-grown produce is even better than what you’re used to finding at the grocery store. But, even though the reasons to garden may be easy to buy into, starting the first garden can be intimidating.

Michelle Heronema, Greenhouse Manager at The Windsor Gardener says the lack of knowledge is the biggest hold up for starting a garden. “Nobody wants to fail at anything,” she says. “If you want to do it, you want to be successful. Luckily, Heronema says, it’s really not that hard to start a garden. It’s all about the basics: soil, sun, and water. But, for those wanting more, here are some tips for making the transition:

Start small

It’s better to be thrilled by what you produce in a small garden than be frustrated by the time commitment a big one requires. Starting small can ease the transition into gardening and make it less intimidating. Heronema says assessing your space is one of the first steps. “Whether you have an apartment balcony, a rental yard you may not stay with, or a large yard, impacts the direction you can go.” Luckily, growing things in containers all season long is realistic, Heronema says.

Grow what you love

What do you like to eat? Your answer will tell you what you should plant in your vegetable garden. But, consider productivity, as well. Think about how much you and your family will eat and how likely you are to freeze, can, or give away excess produce. Heronema says, “Grow easy plants and appreciate the small wins.” Squash, cucumbers, tomatoes are all things that grow easily in northern Colorado and you can be successful with right away.

Choosing a spot

Choose your growing site thoughtfully. If you plant your garden at the back of the yard, make sure you’re willing to trek out every day or so to check for droopy plants that need water, destructive pests, and produce that’s ready to pick.

A good size for a beginner’s vegetable garden is 10×10 feet, about the size of a small bedroom. Keep it simple. Select up to five types of vegetables to grow, and plant a few of each type. You’ll get plenty of fresh produce for your summer meals, and it will be easy to keep up with the chores. If 10×10 feet seems intimidating, you can go smaller (the veggies won’t mind) or consider growing vegetables in containers. With them you don’t even need a yard; a sunny deck or balcony work fine.

Loving too much

The biggest mistake gardeners make, Heronema says, is loving their plants too much. In other words, they overwater. Pay attention to your watering cycle, the weather and precipitation, and the type of plant. And just ask questions, she says. “That’s why we do what we do!”