New Gardener Part II: Water, Sunshine, Soil

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!

Water
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).

Sunshine
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
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!)

14 comments on “New Gardener Part II: Water, Sunshine, Soil”

  1. Pingback: Gardening and Building Raised Beds in the City — Reluctant Entertainer

  2. Pingback: Life is Simple as a P & J!

  3. I love to read tips on gardening from others! This is my second year to have a garden, and due to giant trees, my options are very limited for where I put my garden (a raised bed that I built all by myself =) and how big it can be. I think one of the most disappointing things last year was not knowing how many plants to plant… for instance, I only had 3 okra plants, and each plant would only produce a few okra at a time. I decided to cut up and freeze them as they grew until I had enough to make a batch of fried okra. It took the entire summer just to get enough to make one meal’s (side dish) worth of fried okra. My peppers on the other hand did great and the difference there is that you only need one or two jalepenos to throw in a jar of salsa vs. 20 or 30 okra…
    so, how do you know how much of what to plant?

  4. Sandy…thanks for sharing…I have a question…Since this is the first time gardening for us. When do you pick your lettuce??? Ours is getting lots and lots of leaves…do you pick the outer ones and they keep growing in the center???

    Would love to hear about how to do a small compost pile…we haven’t done that yet.

    COnnie
    .-= Connie´s last blog ..Look at what I’ve Been Up To!! =-.

  5. Thanks for the tip. Here in Ky, it is kind of a rule to wait until after Derby to start your garden, except for cold items, like the lettuce. This will be my first attempt to a small garden. I am planning on planting a few tomatoes, squash, & zucc. I will have the help of my father. He always had a garden & I do remember helping him when I was little. Wish me luck.
    Lauri
    .-= Lauri´s last blog ..WONDERFUL LIFE OF LOVE =-.

  6. I can’t wait to start a garden. My dad are going to start small with a strawberry patch.

  7. Delurking to say I would love to hear anything you have to say about gardening. I’m a gardener wannabe!! I always have good intentions and then poop out before I ever accomplish anything…It gets so hot here in the summer (I live in Mississippi) that I lose interest… Send some words of encouragement please!

  8. I would LOVE for you to post more about gardening on a city lot. I’m very curious to see what you’ve done. For instance, did you remove some shrubbery, or do you simply plant vegetables where you formerly planted annuals? What all do you plant?

    And I’d love to learn about the ways you prepare your fresh produce, and how you preserve whatever you don’t use during the summer.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
    .-= Richella´s last blog ..Overwhelmed with gratitude =-.

  9. It would be great to hear about your compost bin. We have a round plastic one that we purchased but isn’t open so we naturally don’t use it like we should. Plus it’s smallish. Let me know when you post about it.
    .-= Amy from She Wears Many Hats´s last blog ..Real woman eat homemade salsa too. =-.

  10. Would love to see more posts on anything else that might produce without optimal sunshine! As our yard “matures” we have more and more shade…

  11. I’d love to see another post about your compost bin. I missed the first one. :) Right now, we rely on a few big bags of compost from the inlaws’ garden. It made a HUGE difference in how my tomatoes grew. I’m hoping (!) we can do a raised bed this year. :)

  12. I commented (half-joking) that with the recession-almost depression that we are just now seeing our way out of, we are coming full circle back to our grandparents age, complete with growing our own food. I swear, i’m not too far away from getting a few egg-laying hens either!
    .-= sheri´s last blog ..Leaving my comfort zone. =-.

  13. Maybe someday we’ll be settled somewhere (without deployments) to see if we like gardening! It really seems wonderful- my parents had a garden when I was a little girl, but I didn’t participate too much! :)
    .-= Tara G.´s last blog ..Welcome to Our Living/Dining Room =-.

  14. Hello Sandy. Thanks for dropping by my blog! Lovely site you have here, very interesting. Have a great week!
    Magda

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