Green Thumb

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We had our first little taste of spring yesterday, with 60-degree weather. When we got home from work, we spent some time playing with Nora outside, which was so refreshing. And girlfriend LOVED IT, so I think we will be spending a lot of time outdoors in the coming months. I cannot wait for that.

In the meantime, though, we have retreated back indoors, where we New Yorkers belong this time of year (brrrr!). But the little spring preview has me dreaming of warmer, sunnier days, and how I want to spend them.

I want to start a garden.

When I say "green thumb" in the title of this post, I mean GREEN in the sense that I am inexperienced. A newbie. I have no clue what I'm doing.

We have a fair amount of shade in our backyard (lots of trees), so I've been told that a garden might not fare well back there. However, I think we have a few spots that get enough sun for it to work, but I don't know that. Because, well, how much direct sunlight do gardens NEED?

What are the best things to plant for newbies? I'd love to grow tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and some other things, too. But what? And when do we plant?

How do we plant? Raised beds. Containers. Planter bags. What is a clueless girl to do?

And, how do you keep your hard work protected from little critters? We have a fenced in backyard, but we've still had rabbits make repeated appearances back there. They're cute and all, but I don't want them eating my veggies. And insects? I think I've read that there are some herbs you can plant that are natural insect repellants? But what do I know?

So, if you would, give me the rundown. Where do we start? What do we need? Any good resources to point me in the direction of? If you've had success starting your very own garden, I want to hear from you. I need to know I can pull this off.


Tara Walencik March 8, 2012 at 11:58 AM  

I am super lacking in knowledge in this department however the greatest gardener I know is my grandfather. His entire yard, front & back is covered in flowers/plants/trees and every year he manages to successfully grow tomatoes, cucumbers & peppers by the LOADS FULL!

My grandparents live in Westchester, NY and I definitely can put you in touch with them if you'd like :)

Anonymous,  March 8, 2012 at 12:53 PM  

We are starting a garden for this first time this year as well. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I came across on Pinterest so I've been following those instructions. You enter your zip code and tells you when to plant what and gives instructions on sunlight and watering as well. Good luck with your garden!

Rachel,  March 8, 2012 at 1:49 PM  

Hi Heather,
We did our first garden last year using this book: All new square foot gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Its a basic gardening bible IMO.

It walks though how to plant in a small space, what to plant, when, soil and sun.

Our first garden was hugely successful after this. We did 2 zuchini plants and got over 50 zucs from them in 4 weeks- they are the easiest to grow but take up the most space- you need 9 square feet for each and they will expand to fit any space you give them.

We also did 2 types of tomatoes and had good luck with peppers and sugar snap peas (until the deer got the peas). We live in Ithaca, NY so probably similar climate to you. We planted in early May and had a full garden by July. Hope that helps!

basebell6 March 8, 2012 at 3:59 PM  

tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers are all super easy for beginners. stay away from planting in bags / containers, they always always always will do better in the ground. rabbits really won't bother them much. [but maybe you shouldnt listen to me, groundhogs killed all our brocolli last year. twice.] make sure if you are going to plant in early may like the poster before me, you provide frost protection [as simple as laying a bed sheet over the plants on nights it is super cold]. it frosted here in ohio june 2nd last year. one frost will kill everything! no matter what you do, don't plant things too close. everything will get way bigger than you can imagine so be generous with spacing! good luck! NORA WILL LOVE IT!!

Amanda March 8, 2012 at 11:50 PM  

I personally use Southern Living ( Pretty sure there are versions for other regions such as Midwest, Atlantic Coast,etc.) and the handy advice from the people at Home Depot if you can't find a good actual garden store- great resource and thoughts from staff at both types of stores. As a former garden store manager, I'd suggest if you're really new, try to start with plants that are already flowering instead of starting from seeds. Best of luck!

Anonymous,  March 9, 2012 at 9:20 AM  

I know marigolds deter rabbits somewhat.

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