Hey Erica! I am also going to have my own garden this year (first time! gonna be pretty small this year and it will be bigger the next after I have an idea of what I am up against!)! I have gotten books to read too and I have also been overwhelmed. And that is why I haven't had a garden before, but my parents always have a huge garden and this is what I have learned from them... The do basically nothing and it is THE ugliest garden on the planet and some of the garden ends up going to waste. However we eat out of it alllllll summer and so do all the neighbors... While waste is not what you want to do, all I am saying is give it a shot and learn as you go because you will at least get something out of it!
And I got this fun fact from my aunt... We obviously don't want to use pesticides but if the bugs eat it all then thats no good either! She soaks a habenero in a spray bottle and sprays her plants with that and it keeps the bugs off! I think thats great! (also heard of spraying them with dish detergent and water)
Good luck on your garden! I'm very excited about mine!
thanks for the advice Beary and Hazel! I am going to start composting and I will just have to start my garden with the soil I have! All this support makes me feel better about it. :) And ASBhearts, you are soo right, I am sure I will get SOME veggies out of it, so its gotta be worth it! Good luck on your garden as well! Lets keep each other updated on how it goes this summer!
Erica, you are so welcome! I have a feeling that your garden is going to be a great learning experience and so much fun. ASBhearts is right on with her/his advice. I have a good friend whose garden is the wildest garden you've ever seen, and he takes a very 'hand-off' approach to weeding and maintenance, but he is thrilled with whatever he harvests - which is a lot more than you'd expect!
I have a feeling that since you are from North Carolina, you are going to be dealing with a heavy clay soil like my sister has (she is in Charlotte, NC). The hardest part of starting her garden was digging the soil for the first time - it was like a rock! The good news about clay soils is that they hold nutrients better than any other soil type and are very high in nutrients to begin with.
My last piece of advice (if you are dealing with clay soil) is to dig your garden early in the spring (even earlier than you plan on planting). Clay bakes hard like a brick as the weather gets warm and dry, but it is slightly easier to deal with when its still wet and muddy. You'll be an absolute mess when your done digging your plot, but ultimately, the labor will be slightly less back-breaking than if you had waited until the soil dries out. Some gardeners with heavy clay soils even dig their garden beds in the fall, letting the freeze-thaw cycle break down the clods of clay.
Lucky you! that means you get to go play in the dirt while my garden is still under a foot of snow! Every year your soil will get dramatically looser and looser as the roots from your vegetables break up the soil and as you incorporate a bit of your homemade compost. You will also begin to attract earthworms who will loosen the soil with their tunnels and castings (digested dirt/poo). So don't be discouraged if the digging is hard work the first time - It gets easier!
I just want to chime in and reiterate what some others have said, mostly that you need not feel intimidated by what you've been reading.
Gardening should be fun and satisfying, and give you a feeling of accomplishment. If it's a source of stress...where's the fun?! Just relax and dig in.
The "trial and error method" is your friend. You're going to learn as you go along--which plants do best in your yard, how much/often to water, where to place things so they're in the best possible spot, and so on. Don't expect to figure this all out your first year! I've been gardening since I was a kid, usually just flowers/decorative plants, but also the occasional vegetable garden, and I'm still learning. But it's *SO* much easier now than way back when, mostly because I take things in stride now. If something doesn't do well, so be it, I just won't bother with it again next time, or I'll try a different location or variety or soil or drainage...
Here are a few veggies I think a first-timer will have good luck with: Zucchini and yellow squash, green beans, tomatoes, and corn. These are practically impossible to goof up! But beware the squash plants--they'll produce so much fruit you'll be giving away sacks of it. :)
Hello, I am also thinking about one day having my own veggie garden and I've done a bit of research myself and I always seem to come across for composting making sure the PH doesn't get too basic or acidic because it can effect your plants.
Is it important to worry about the ph level of your compost? how do you control this?
Holly, I can honestly say that in 30+ years of gardening I have NEVER bothered checking the pH level of my compost--and it's worked out just fine. Of course it's possible that I've just been very, very lucky!
Organic gardening takes a lot of love to care for the earth and the special plants that you're dealing with. Organic gardening is a lot of fun, the greatest part about it is rejuvenating your energy by receiving what the mother earth gives back to you by taking care of her and yourself.
I'd recommend organic gardening, the produce tastes better, more pleasurable to work with and you have the joy of knowing the you had one on one time with mother earth and know that you are loved because you are provided nourishment for you mind body and soul.
Yes, it is a lot of hard work but the effects that "organic gardeing" has on the soul is magnificient.
It is also wonderful for the planet and the best for your health.