Our First Veggie Garden!
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My parents are both wonderful gardeners and I grew up helping them as a child. Seeing as this is my first time having my very own garden, they were eager to mentor us (myself and my husband) in our first season. I'm not going to lie, gardening requires patience, time, effort, sunscreen (especially for me!), and most importantly, a willingness to learn by making mistakes!

 
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Why Start a Garden?
We really wanted to strive for a more ‘zero-waste’ lifestyle, and this was a huge step in the right direction! Growing and producing your own food eliminates packaging and reduces your carbon footprint - which is great for the environment. We always buy local product and will continue to do so for produce we don’t grow, but I’m incredibly excited to have my chef arm extend into this new challenge! We are growing herbs in our backyard planters for quick additions to dishes, and now vegetables will be in the garden just a short walk away!

 If you’re interested in more ‘Zero Waste’ tips, head over to our journal Tips for Cooking and Eating ‘Zero Waste’ this Summer. 

Where to Garden?
Don't have a garden plot? No problem! We were able to snag a plot in a community garden just a short walk from our house, which is a great idea if you’re eager to garden but do not have the space at home to do so. Even if you don’t have a home garden or community plot nearby, there are still many ways you can grow food from the comfort of your own home. If you have a sunny balcony, use planters for herbs and tomatoes, and if you don't have a balcony – pot herbs or lettuce in front of a window that receives a lot of light. You will see success in no time…just don’t forget to water!

Tips & Tricks for New Gardeners
Disclaimer: I am not an expert! However, here are a few pointers that I have learned from the pros (without using chemicals or sprays) - thanks Mom and Dad! 

  • You can start some plants from seed or directly from plants that you can buy from a greenhouse. Carrots, lettuce, beets, beans, potatoes, radishes and onions are great from seeds, and cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, and herbs are great starts with plants. However, you can do it either way! Depending on your plan and space.

  • Keep your egg shells! Crush up the shells into small shards and sprinkle them around the base of cucumbers, zucchini and peas to ward off cut worms (the jagged edges are hard on the worm’s belly, no joke!) Also, the shells are rich in calcium which is great for soil.

  • Fish fertilizer and epsom salts are your friend. Use them to fertilize your peppers and tomatoes to boost growth and fruit production.

  • Bury your banana peels! They are full of potassium and great for the soil.

  • Add a spoonful of evaporated milk to your planting hole when putting in tomato plants. The calcium helps the plant produce healthy fruit!

  • Wildlife can be a nuisance! If you experience a problem with deer, grab a bar of Irish Spring soap and wrap it in cheesecloth. Tie 2-3 satchels onto stakes and place them around your garden – the scent will ward off deer naturally.

  • Be sure to use a trellis or ladder for peas and a cage for tomatoes. They love to climb, and need something to grab onto.

  • Lastly, and most importantly….. WATER! Plants cannot survive or thrive without water, especially in the early stages from seed. Plants like tomatoes and peppers love lots of moisture!

All in all, please have fun with it! There will be ups and downs for sure, but enjoy the process of nurturing something with your own two hands. The bonus of being in a community garden is having the support around you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take mental notes (and maybe some real ones, too) Many people have been gardening for years, and have a wealth of knowledge they usually love to pass along!

 

Some great recipes I cant wait to make with my vegetables, are 

Happy Gardening! Don’t forget to tag me in your gardening photos on social media!

Cheers,
Carly Minish-Wytinck


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Carly Minish