The Q&A Archives: First Time Vegetable Gardener

Question: This is our family's first try at a garden. What kind of HARDY vegetables can we successfully grow in our area? When should we get started?

Answer: Welcome to our team! Gardening is a great hobby (and passion) that the whole family can enjoy. There are many great varieties of vegetables you can grow in your area. What are you interested in? If this is your first attempt, perhaps you'd like to stick to some basics...tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, maybe some herbs? Let us know what you are interested in and we can help you choose varieties that are suitable. Feel free to post another question on the website with that info. When to get started depends a lot on what you want to grow and what way you want to grow it, that is, do you want to start from seed or plants? When starting from seed indoors, seed is generally sown 6-8 wks. before the last expected frost date for your area. Frost dates in NC range as early as 4/17 in Morehead City to as late as 5/31 in Waynesville. Check with your local weather bureau, county extension office, or other gardeners for a more specific date. Speaking of extension offices, have you had your soiltested? That is a definite first step in my opinion. County extension offices generally offer this service free or for a nominal charge for citizens of the county/state. It is imperative to have these results so you know what you have to work with andwhere any problems may lie. The results are usually accompanied by suggested solutions to any problems that may exist. Contact your local extension agent for details. Regardless of those results, you will want to start improving the soil in the area you want to grow in whenever the ground is workable. This is a simple process, all you really need to do is work some organic matter such as compost, leaf mould, or composted cow manure into your planting area. This improves soil composition and makes a nutrient rich bed for your plants to grow in. Have fun with it!

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