Getting ready to garden? Part 3 – Next steps

Now that the method for gardening has been chosen and have prepared that space for plants to grow, it is now time to select which plants are going to be part of your garden. The first rule in our garden is to grow what we like. We like squash, so we grow squash. We like tomatoes, so we grow tomatoes. If this is your first-time gardening, it strongly suggested to start with those simple things. Grow tomatoes, grow squash, grow beans, and grow peppers. These plants will produce at least meager results as long as you feed them, water them regularly and keep the weeds at bay.
Please understand that plants have to have access to food as much as they need water. Here in our garden, we don’t use lots of chemically produced fertilizers or other products, but there is no reason you can’t try them. I know that statement probably has a lot of Organic non-GMO supporters cringing, but honestly, If I didn’t use them on my first few gardens, I probably would have been discouraged to the point of not bothering. The key is to understand what is in the fertilizer and where else it can be obtained.
Water is critical for your garden. Wherever your water comes from, you must get it to your plants for them to survive. Collecting rain water for your plants instead of water from a municipal supply will not affect your water bill. It will also reduce your usage from a well. In some cases, rain water is not feasible. In any case, you need to make appropriate use of your water. Water will not help your plants unless it is either applied at a slow rate to increase absorption, or contained so that it doesn’t run off.
In our garden this is accomplished in two ways. First, buckets are cut in and half so that the upper portion can be pushed into the ground around a plant or sprouting seeds. This creates a dam that keeps water from washing the plant or soil away. The bucket system is used with peppers and tomatoes. This system requires manual watering.
Second, a drip irrigation system is installed around plants that benefit from a steady smaller amount of water. The irrigation system works really well with squash, tomatoes, and other plants such as broccoli and eggplant. This drip irrigation system, or point application, needs water pressure to function. This system will have to either be driven by a municipal water supply, well, or a water collection system that has a pump setup installed for pressure. The choice is yours so do your research and experiment to find out what works best.
Some gardeners, such as my father, hardly ever water their plants and have great success. In our case, we have always had better results with consistent watering. I also attribute the difference to the size of your garden. A consistently watered 400 to 800 square foot garden could outproduce a half acre that is planted and never watered. Strength in numbers for the large garden and tended gains for the smaller. This is just a taste of the information available to assist you in your gardening aspirations.
The next post in this series will be about my plant choices, why I grow them, and how I get them going.