The Q&A Archives: First Time Veggie Gardener

Question: I would like to start a vegetable garden, but I have never tried before and do not have much of a green thumb. I am in a climate that changes rapidly in Massachusetts. What type of veggies grow best in a partly shady yard? And what type of fertilizer should be used?

Answer: Of course you have a green thumb! Everyone does, they just haven't discovered it yet. When starting a vegetable garden, there are two bits of advice I can offer: 1) Make sure you do your best in preparing the soil. 2) Start small, so as not to overwhelm yourself.

If you are preparing the garden in an area that has not be gardened before, you will have grass to contend with. It is essential to till the grass well...several times, several days apart, to insure you will not be fighting grass all summer long. Add whatever organic matter you can get to the soil -- compost, leaves, manure. This is the best fertilizer you give to your garden! Packaged soil amendments are available, and are fine for starting, but you will eventually want your own compost pile close to the garden.

Don't overwhelm yourself by trying too many items at once. Start with lettuce which likes cooler weather and can tolerate a little shade. Tomatoes are an easy-care summer crop. Green beans and squash are also simple to grow. Most vegetables want all the sun that they can get, so be sure to site your garden where it will receive the most sun possible.

If you don't have a Burpee catalog, request one via their web site. It is filled with information that is especially helpful for the beginning gardener who is searching for his green thumb! Good luck.

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