The Q&A Archives: Our First Vegetable Garden

Question: My 10 year old twins would like to have their first vegetable garden. We would like you to recommend what our first vegetables should be and should we start with seeds or plants?

Answer: How exciting! <br><br>Pick a spot that gets full sun has rich, well-drained soil (vegetable crops don't like standing in water). If you make the garden too big, it's easy to get discouraged by all the work involved. Better to make it small the first year - a 10x10 foot plot is plenty. You can always expand it next year. Weeds are probably the hardest part for beginners, because you may not know at first which seedlings are weeds and which are your crops! Mulch all unplanted areas well with layersof newspaper and straw to keep weeds from getting established, and to conserve soil moisture.<br><br>Which vegetables do you enjoy? Most vegetables mature fairly quickly, so anything in the Burpee catalog is fair game. Ask your children what they'd like to grow. If they're in charge of tending their choice plants, they'll develop a sense of responsiblity and "ownership". Often kids like to grow what they recognize, such as pumpkins and potatoes, and, of course, that they like to eat! Purchase live plants when available to make your first year easier. Some crops aren't available as transplants (carrots, peas, beans, corn, etc.), because they prefer to be sown right in the soil. Include a few flowers, too - they not only look and smell beautiful, but they attract pollinating insects, and some are edible (such as nastutium, viola, calendula). <br><br>Also, a GREAT book for beginning gardeners is "Real Gardeners' True Confessions" by Pat Stone (Storey Publishing, Pownal VT; ISBN# 0-88266-946-X; $12.95). It's a humorous and reassuring book becuase it stresses that even the famous experts make gardening mistakes - but that's how we all learn! Have fun, and feel free to ask more questions as your adventure unfolds!<br>

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