A Beginner’s Guide to Vegetable Gardening + A Giveaway

Starting any new project can bring on doubts and concerns.  When it comes to planting your first vegetable garden those thoughts can be double fold because at the end of the day your reward is tangible.  Fresh, juicy, sweet homegrown vegetables. Flavors not like any you tasted before.  So of course you want to succeed. And I’m going to give you some tips on how to be the most successful beginner vegetable gardener around.  I’m not going to get all detailed and scientific on you.  Just some realistic, common sense tips to help you on your way.  Only you know how much sun your location truly gets or what type of soil you have and even if you have stacked all the right cards in your hand Mother Nature will still be your ultimate judge.

So many varieties of lettuce can be planted for the best salad around.

So many varieties of lettuce can be planted for the best salad around.

1. Keep it Small

When you are first starting out don’t go digging an acreage of soil and picking 50 different varieties of plants to grow.  You may decide you don’t like gardening after all and an over ambitious idea will get you to that decision sooner.  A simple 8 x 8 is sufficient for a handful of plants.  You can always expand as you get the hang of it.  And don’t rule out using containers for vegetables.

2. Pick 3 or 4 vegetables that you actually eat.

Don’t start growing celeriac or kohlrabi if you have no intentions of actually eating it. Look at what you normally pick up at the grocery store. Try growing some of those. Lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peppers, beans and carrots are probably your safest bet the first time around.  And go to the garden center and buy already established plants.  I want you to get the hang of growing successfully before you venture into seeds.

Can't go wrong with carrots!

Can’t go wrong with carrots!

3. Know your location

Vegetables need three important things:

Soil

Compost rich and well draining is the standby.  If you have thick clay or loose sandy soil you will have to do some work to fix it.  This is also where you could consider using containers your first time around since bags of perfect vegetable growing soil can easily be purchased.

Water

Don’t dig your garden way in the back forty of your property.  Vegetables need water to survive so make sure you can easily obtain it for your garden. And water will be very important because you need lots of hot, drying sun. They need about 1 inch of water per week but if you are in a heat wave and the plants look parched give them a drink.

Sun

Remember this equation: sun = sugar. What that means is the more sun your plants receive the sweeter and tastier they will be.  There are cooler, shadier vegetable varieties out there but the majority prefer bright sunny days.  Once again containers are movable and can help you get the amount of sun you need.

Tomatomania

4. Accept that nothing works as planned.

Despite all our good intentions things may not go according to plan.  The summer may be abnormally dry or wet. You may go away on a last minute vacation and the garden can get forgotten. Things happens, plants die.  Yet by keeping your investment small and manageable the loss may not be so huge.  And if you end up with an abundance of delicious tasting vegetables after all bravo my friend you have done it!  Time to think about expansion.

Thanks to my friends over at Raincoast Books I want to help you have even more success in your garden.

Tomatomania is THE resource you need on growing tomatoes in your garden.  From practical growing advice to recipes and cooking tips you can’t learn enough about this perfect beginner plant. And I want to give one lucky winner there one copy to enjoy. Enter below and leave me a comment telling me what you have or want to plant in your garden this year.

Happy Gardening!

Tomatomania

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Rules:

Open to legal Canadian (excluding Quebec) and US residents.
No purchase necessary to enter.
Canadian Winner is required to answer a skill testing question. Winner will be notified by email on July 2, 2015 and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.
Contest runs from June 22, 2015 to June 29, 2015.

*I have generously received  Tomatomania free of charge however all opinions are entirely my own.

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Bocconcini

I found this amazing recipe from an issue of Canadian Living.  It’s is super easy to make and surprisingly filling.  Make this a standard for meatless Mondays. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes according to your heat tolerance.  This amount gives just a little bit of zing.

Serves 1/4

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Bocconcini
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Ingredients

  • 5 cups fusilli pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup mini bocconcini

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  2. In a large skillet over med-high cook the onion and garlic with the oil until soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes.
  4. Stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.
  5. Cook until the tomatoes begin to split open.
  6. Add the spinach, cooked pasta and reserved liquid.
  7. Add the cheese.
  8. Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the cheese starts to melt.
Recipe Type: Main Dishes
7.6.4
174

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

In a large skillet over med-high cook the onion and garlic with the oil until soft.

Add the tomatoes.

Stir in the salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.

Cook until the tomatoes begin to split open.

Add the spinach, cooked pasta and reserved liquid.

Add the cheese.

Cook until the spinach begins to wilt and the cheese starts to melt.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

This is super delicious, healthy and incredibly easy to make.

Serves 1/8

Tomato Tortellini Soup
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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 cups tomato soup
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat cook the onion and garlic with the olive oil until vegetables are just beginning to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes and corn. Saute another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the water and tomato soup and bring everything to a simmer.
  4. Add the spinach.
  5. Finally add the tortellini.
  6. Cook 10 more minutes or until pasta begins to float to surface.
  7. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese and serve with fresh bread.
Recipe Type: Soups, Salads and Sandwiches
7.6.4
187

In a large saucepan over medium heat cook the onion and garlic with the olive oil until vegetables are just beginning to soften.

Add the tomatoes and corn. Saute another 2 minutes.

Add the water and tomato soup and bring everything to a simmer.

Add the spinach.

Finally add the tortellini.

Cook 10 more minutes or until pasta begins to float to surface.

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and with fresh bread.