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Chloe is super excited to have guest gardener Helen Yoest visit Chloe’s Gardening Club. Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence.

YOUR FIRST VEGETABLE GARDEN by Helen Yoest

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Have you ever tasted a tomato, picked fresh from the vine, still warm from the summer sun?  If you have to think about it, than most likely you haven’t or you would clearly remember.  If you did, I’m sure you look forward to more.

Food grown fresh in our own yards is a growing trend.  By doing so, we are also helping the environment.

Growing your own vegetables is easy and fun to do.  With just a little guidance, this spring you can prepare your garden space and by summer, just a couple of months away, you can enjoy fresh vegetables from your little patch of land.  Best of all, YOU get to choose what you want to grow and eat!

PLANNING

One of the most fun parts to preparing your first vegetable garden is planning.  Once you know the shape of the place to plant your garden, you can begin to design how and where you want your vegetables grow.  Including vegetables along with flowers already planted is OK too.

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If you are lucky, you can have a little square of land all your own.  You can plant your vegetables in neat rows, or circles, or zig-zags.  It is wise to look at the seed package for planting information, including how tall and wide the vegetable gets.

FIND A SUNNY SPOT

For your vegetable garden, you will need a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun for your plants to grow strong and healthy.

WATERING

It’s a good idea to locate the garden near the end of the hose.  Watering is a must in your vegetable garden, so plan on it and have water accessible;  you will need it in the absence of rain.  Even if you have the rain water from the roof of your house diverted, you will still need a consistent supply of water.

SOIL PREPARATION AND AMENDMENT AND MULCH

Prepare your area by amending the existing soil with organic matter.  No matter what type of soil you have, adding organic matter will improve the soil’s texture.  Adding organic matter will help clay soils drain more easily and retain moisture in sandy soils.  Also add a layer of much over the entire area of your garden.  Mulch keeps weeds from sprouting, keeps soil moist, moderates the soil temperature, and looks nice.

FERTILIZING

Different vegetables have different nutrient needs.  Read the seed package to understand the needs of the vegetables you choose.

But did you know, the organic mulch you added will break down to provide nutrients to the plants?  Mulch may be all the fertilizer your vegetable garden needs.

PEST CONTROL

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The best pest control is to hand pick the bugs right off the plant and put into a bucket of soapy water.  Remember, you will be eating this food.  You wouldn’t want to put food, coated with a chemical that just killed a bug, in your mouth, would you?

Did you know, most vegetables will grow nicely in a container?

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So, if you don’t have a nice little piece of land, you can grow your tomatoes in a container on your deck, balcony, or patio.

Some great vegetables for a beginner’s garden are tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, squash, peppers, and lettuce.

Plan today for a bountiful vegetable tomorrow.  Once you taste the sun-warmed fruit from the vine, you will create a memory to last a lifetime.

Here are some blog posts of my families account of our first vegetable garden plus a recipe for fried green tomatoes : Fried Green Tomatoes

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook  friend’s page, Helen Yoest

Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum

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Chloe is so excited to see so many children growing their very own fruit and vegetables, she has made a special certificate for all you cool kids.

Happy Gardening!

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