Most of us look forward to spring with good reason: longer days and warm temperatures mean finally being able to ditch onerous winter outerwear and enjoy the outdoors again. Year in year out, we get through winter patiently (some of us more than others), cheered by the fact that we know it will end. We know our patience will be rewarded by brighter days ahead.
Unfortunately and tragically, spring 2020 has not unfolded as expected. When we were looking forward to spring just a few short months ago, who could have imagined that it would arrive concomitant with a global pandemic that would shut down much of the world as we know it?
Social distancing mandates, supply chain disruptions, and justified germophobia have suddenly changed the way we live. An obvious example of this is how we approach ‘hunting and gathering’ food to feed our family. Running to the grocery store to pick up a few necessities is suddenly not so simple. As a result, many of us are turning to an alternate food supply: one we produce ourselves.
Given the time of year, growing vegetables from seed, in particular, is an obvious way to begin. In fact, we have it on good authority that the crisis has generated legions of newly minted home vegetable gardeners. Armed with a little knowledge and a few tools, it’s not hard to grow your own family vegetable garden. Here’s what you need to know.
Garden Design & Location
Raised Garden Beds
Alternatively, you can create raised garden beds in which to grow your crops. Though this may sound like extra work up front, in the end you’ll likely find that the benefits are well worth it:
- Enables good soil drainage
- Facilitates a longer growing season: Garden soil heats up faster in the spring and stays warm longer in the fall
- More efficient weed control
- Deters pests
What & How to Grow Guide
We know from experience that many novice gardeners are like the proverbial ‘kid in the candy store’: they want to grow everything they can possibly think of, without really knowing what they’re getting into. We get it. We’ve been there. Also, we understand, during this trying time, the impetus to grow as much as possible. But we do advise a tiny bit of caution.
Before you buy your vegetable seeds, we recommend doing a little homework to learn what is likely to grow best in your area, what plants grow best together, and other important information. You start by consulting our Growing Guides
- Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and kale.
- Herbs, such as chives and basil, are easy, nutritious and pleasing to the palate.
- Root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, and beets.
- Or, if your kids like something simple, you can’t go wrong with fresh green beans.
- Don’t forget to plant some crowd pleasing fruit such as watermelon and tomatoes (yes, they’re a fruit.)
- Some flowers, such as french marigolds, make particularly good companions because they ward off pests. Or consider nasturtium which is both beautiful and edible.
Veteran gardeners tend to collect a lot of gardening tools over time. If you’re just starting out, you’ll just need a few essential gardening tools:
- Gardening Gloves
Ultimately, you’ll want to pick up additional tools—when shopping is not such a challenge—including a rake, a wheelbarrow and more. We also recommend finding a dedicated spot in your garage, shed or house to store the tools so you always know where to find them.