Yesterday I wrote how to get started in gardening if you’re a beginner, and want a successful first try! Even my friend, Erin (Gardens of Plenty), agreed with me that if you are NEW to gardening, start off by planting “starts” and not seeds!

Before I get started though, don’t forget to LINK UP tomorrow here at RE for Home is … as we’ll be swapping apron stories! And I’ll be sharing a family recipe that you won’t want to miss. Here’s a sneak peek into my kitchen where the story takes place …

Today this post is about water, sunshine and the soil: The 3 key components to a successful garden!

Watering has to be either very frequent or very deep. But we all know that water is essential. Many people are enthusiastic in the beginning of gardening season, and then they start traveling or get busy with summer plans, and the garden gets “2nd” attention. If you plan to leave town – hire your neighbor kid to water!

Don’t worry about a drip system if you’re just starting out. Grab a hose, a timer and an inexpensive sprinkler and you’re in business. Water 10 minutes in the morning, and in the hottest weather you’ll want to water twice (again in the evening). Keep the water flowing!

Even more important, mulch keeps the process simple! It reduces the amount of weeds in the beds and helps retain the water. Mulch with partially decomposed straw, shredded bark, or newspaper (you don’t want to use straight straw, because it will sprout).

Surprisingly, a lot of vegetables don’t need as much sun as you think. For example, regardless of what you have read, zucchini doesn’t need a lot of sunshine. If you want to grow the largest zucchini in your state, well, then yes! Pour on the sunshine! But to grow the kind of zucchini that we like, which is the smaller, under grown type (which we think tastes the best), you don’t have to have full-time sun!

Soil is the most important aspect of gardening that you have control over. Depending on the zone you live in, soil can vary widely. We call our southern Oregon clay soil “gumbo,” and it’s very hard to amend. There are 2 simple methods. Bring in new soil, or use what you have and amend the existing soil with compost, where you amend every time you plant.

One reader asked yesterday:

As we prepare for raised beds, do you roto-till your beds or prepare the dirt with a shovel?

Paul and I use a shovel first, and then a pitchfork to work in the compost. Raised beds really are superior, but for the beginning gardener, you may not want to invest that much time and money until you know you really like gardening!

The better your soil – the more likely you will have success with your garden!

Here are the coffee grounds and fresh lawn clippings …

That we just dumped into the compost bin! Mix ’em up! (Check out Erin’s pile of compost just delivered to her house!)

We are enthusiastic about gardening not only for the fresh veggies that we produce, but for the benefits that come from sharing, inviting, eating and connecting with friends – many times centered on a meal with many of the entrees produced from our garden!

In this increasingly virtual world, many of us city-folk are getting back into gardening. The earthy, authentic approach that I have shared is literally a connection that many do now realize. Beds that were once flowers are now being converted over to vegetables.

It’s a beautiful thing – I think God would be pleased!

We grow and produce.
We invite and we share.
We eat and we commune.

It’s as simple as that. A garden pot on your back patio or a garden space in your back yard – there’s just something about sharing the results with friends over a cozy meal.

IF I were to share more posts on gardening (on a city lot!), what would you like me to cover?

I know I’ve posted about my $5 compost bin in the past, but if I get enough requests, I will repost the details in a separate post.

(See the side bar for weekly Home is ... inspiring topics to share! And this post is linked to Kimba’s DIY DAY at A Soft Place to Land!)