I recently wrote about the joys of urban farming and starting your own garden to grow healthy food for you, your family, and potentially your community. Are you serious or thinking about becoming serious about starting your own garden?

I thought I’d share some of the key beginner tips that I learned from my urban farming class to help you get started.

  1. Start planning your garden mid winter. Think about the types of food you want to grow. It is always a good idea to plant a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers to attract diverse insect life. Diversity also minimizes produce loss.
  2. Find a community garden space. Many community gardens have a wait list that begins mid winter, so call early.
  3. Plan the layout of your garden. Its a great idea to write or sketch it on paper and keep track of what and where you plant.
  4. Plant the right mix of seeds together. We all have a friend that brings out the best in us- so do vegetables.
    • Carrots and tomatoes
    • Carrots and beets
    • Beets and onions
    • Peas and cucumbers
    • Strawberries, chives and borage
    • Radishes on top of potatoes
    • Radishes and carrots
    • Basil between and under kale or collard plants (greens keep the basil gently shaded and tender)
  5. Plant small flowers (dill, fennel, baby’s breath) along the edge of your garden to attract parasitic wasps. These wasps eat the eggs of your garden’s undesirable pests.
  6. Don’t work in wet soil, as it damages the soil structure and reduces needed air space.
  7. The earliest you should start planting is usually the third to fourth week in April. This is a good time to plant spinach, peas, lettuce, arugula, broccoli and radish seeds. You can also transplant kale, onions and cabbages at this time.
  8. The first or second week of May, plant peas, beans, lettuce, radishes, cilantro, cucumbers, and dill.
  9. Tomatoes should be planted about the third week in May. Tomatoes like to be buried up to the first or second branch, and be sure to clip lower leaves as needed. All of the little hairs on the stem will turn into toots, ensuring a healthy root structure for the plant.
  10. Vegetable gardens need approximately one inch of water per week. Ideally, this should be spread out over several days.

Are you a gardener already? We want to hear about your tips, suggestions, and reasons you started growing your own food!