Ok. So you aren’t exactly a trained farmer. Even if you’ve never planted a single seed before, you can have fresh lettuce, crisp radishes, and plump bell peppers before you can say “Where’s my shovel?”
It just takes a little forethought to make a garden thrive. Better Homes & Gardens offers these tips:
Start small. BH&G recommends a 10×10 foot plot to begin with. “Keep it simple. Select up to five types of vegetables to grow, and plant a few of each type.”
Grow what you love: Why plant turnips if you wouldn’t buy them at the grocery store? Pick your favorite foods to keep you motivated.
Think about how much you need: Beginners tend to err on the side of planting too much. Consider how much your family will eat and what you will do with the excess (canning, freezing, giving produce to others). Remember that some plants continue to produce throughout the summer, such as tomatoes, peppers and squash, while others are harvested only once, such as carrots, radishes and corn.
Go vertical: if you are looking for more yield from your 10×10 feet plot, plant crops with vines, such as cucumbers, squash, green beans and peas. These can be trained to grow up trellises or other support systems, opening more space on the ground.
Consider the sun: Without the right amount of sun, plants can’t thrive. Many vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight, such as herbs, greens (chards and kale), tomatoes, peppers, zucchini. If you can only plant in partial shade, try lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, chives, cilantro, parsley and thyme. Root vegetables (carrots, radishes, beets, etc.) will grow with even less sunlight—a minimum of 4 hours.