Are you interested in growing your own food, but aren’t sure where to start? Gardening can be so much fun, not to mention rewarding. There is nothing quite like growing fresh, delicious produce straight out of your own backyard. Many people don’t garden because sometimes it can seem to be a bit intimidating. While there is SO much to know and learn about gardening, it isn’t hard to get started, and it is easy to learn as you go. So, we thought we would put together a quick guide to help you get started!
Picking a Location
Location is KEY! The vast majority of garden vegetables, fruits and herbs will need at least 8 hours of sun. If they do not get the appropriate amount of direct sunlight, your plants will not die, but they also will not have the energy they need to grow big and produce fruit. South-facing locations are recommended as they will receive the most sun exposure. West-facing yards often will receive enough sun as well, as long as there are no trees or buildings in the way that will block the sun! If you do not have ground space that gets adequate sun, consider container gardening or possibly growing an indoor garden.
Deciding What to Plant
Gardening opens up so many options in terms of what you can grow. While the grocery store may only have one, maybe two varieties of peppers or cucumbers, growing your own produce means you can pick out of hundreds of different varieties! This is so much fun, and with seed packets usually being between $1-$3, it is easier than you might think to walk out with more seeds than you have space for.
If you are new to gardening, we recommend sticking to the basics. Often times, the more exotic and exciting varieties of edible plants come with more particular growing requirements. You can still have fun, but sticking with plants that are more forgiving and easier to grow will spare you much frustration and disappointment as you venture out to grow your first vegetable garden.
The options are endless when growing produce outside, given that you have enough space and the right light requirements. Some good vegetables to start with include carrots, squash, cucumbers, herbs, lettuce and spinach, green beans, peas, radishes, and tomatoes. Many of these plants grow well and produce a lot of fruit, which is exactly what you want out of your vegetable garden!
If the patch of dirt that you have available for planting does not get enough sun, growing your garden vegetables in containers on your front porch (or wherever does get adequate sun) is a great option. However, this does limit you on the varieties that you can grow. Many varieties need a lot of space for their roots to grow deep and strong, and some containers simply do not offer enough space. There are many different varieties of fruits and veggies that are bred specifically for container gardening. Often these will say “container” somewhere on the packet or in the name of the seed variety. Some plants may also say “determinate” or “indeterminate”. Determinate plants grow to a certain size and then stop growing, making them better for container gardening, while indeterminate plants do not stop growing once they have reached a certain size. Another indicator that a certain variety may be well suited for container gardening is if it is a "bush" variety. This also means that it will grow to a certain size and then stop growing, similar to determinate varieties. So, if you are looking for plants to grow in containers, look for those indicators! Another quick tip for those of you looking to start a container garden is to make sure you use big enough containers. Garden plants need much more space than a typical houseplant, for example. For more information on picking out the right sized container for your garden vegetables, check out our video on container gardening!
If you do not have enough space or enough light outdoors, don’t worry! Indoor gardening could be a suitable alternative for you, though your options as far as what you can grow are going to be limited. Since many garden fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and other flowering plants depend on bees and other insects to pollinate them, growing them indoors is not a very viable option. However, herbs are a great option for indoor gardening, and what is better than having fresh, delicious herbs at your disposal? One thing to also keep in mind when growing an indoor garden is lighting. If you have a south or west-facing window sill large enough to hold some terra cotta pots, this will do quite nicely. If you do not have space in front of a window that receives a lot of sun, try looking into grow lights. Grow lights allow you to grow plants nearly anywhere in your house so you do not have to be confined to window space only!
What to Plant for an Edible Outdoor Garden
Vegetables That Grow in Colorado
As we mentioned above, carrots, squash, cucumbers, herbs, lettuce and spinach, green beans, peas, radishes, and tomatoes are some good options to start with if you are looking to start your first outdoor vegetable garden. Given the right amount of space and light, these plants will thrive and produce a bountiful harvest. Many of the above listed plants also have container varieties, so if you are looking for container-friendly plants, you’re in luck! When planting your garden, whether in the ground or in a container, make sure to follow the directions on the backs of your seed packets. The back (or inside) of seed packets are full of variety-specific information as far as how deep to plant, light requirements, water requirements, what time of the year to plant, when to expect a harvest, and the like. Following the instructions closely is a fool-proof way to ensure your garden is successful, even if you are new to gardening! We also have these fantastic garden planners. These handy little tools are great for knowing when to plant different garden fruits and vegetables.
Fruits That Grow in Colorado
Aside from plants such as tomatoes and peppers (which are technically fruits), some other sweeter tasting produce that can be planted in your garden include raspberries, blackberries, melons, grapes, and strawberries! Certain varieties of strawberries will grow particularly well in a planter box or pot, so if you are confined to container gardening, this would be a great option to explore. You can also plant all sorts of fruit trees such as peaches, apples, cherries, plumbs, apricots and more in your yard too! When picking a spot, just be sure to not plant them too close to your garden to avoid shading certain areas and depriving other garden plants of their much-needed sunlight.
Herbs and Other Plants That are Edible
Herbs are another lovely addition to any garden. Not only do they provide fresh, savory flavor to any meal, salad, cocktail, and more, but they also radiate a lovely aroma throughout your garden. Plant basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, mint, chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, and more! Many of these herbs go great in container gardens as well, so if you run out of space in your garden, try potting them up! It is actually preferable to grow mint in a container, as it spreads like a weed and can easily take over a portion of your garden. Potting it up and keeping it in a sunny spot on your porch is a great way to keep it contained.
What to plant for an edible indoor garden?
Herbs are by far the best option for planting a miniature garden indoors. Generally, they can be potted in containers as big or small as you have room for, depending on the size of the plant. They can be started from seed or grown from herb starts found at your local garden center. And if you do not receive exorbitant amounts of light, you can always use a grow light to help supplement the plant’s needs. Some of the most common herbs grown indoors include basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. While this list is not exhaustive, these are a few options to get you going on your indoor herb collection!
What Else Can I Plant in My Indoor Garden?
If you are looking to grow something indoors that is a little more substantial than herbs, there are some varieties of garden vegetables that will grow fairly well indoors if given the proper growing conditions. Some of these include carrots, green onions, hot peppers, salad greens, potatoes, radishes, and tomatoes! Each of these plants will have different growing requirements, and some may require a strategy that is slightly different to growing outdoors, but if executed correctly, you can have fresh veggies grown right on your kitchen counter! Make sure you look into the different varieties of plant before making your selection, as some may grow better indoors than others.
Have Any Questions About Gardening?
If any questions arise throughout your gardening experience, don’t hesitate to ask! We are available via phone, email and social media, and we are always happy to help you grow better, naturally! Contact us today!