I have been so excited to write this post but I just haven’t been able to find enough quiet time to write. You know how that goes – someone is sick, or needs extra attention, or the house needs to be cleaned, or any number of other things come up. I have been trying to focus on my priorities and therefore haven’t been able to give Peace in the Pod much attention lately. I guess it will all happen in God’s time.
Anyway, when I was a novice gardener six years ago, I got a sudden, strong desire to grow something that would feed my family. I was pregnant with Will, enjoying the energetic second trimester, and looking for an outlet for my excess energy. So that January, I bought some tomato seeds, pots, and soil, and went to town. We didn’t even have a tilled garden plot yet…so in retrospect, maybe sixteen tomato plants growing inside a little townhouse wasn’t the best idea. I have a tendency to go crazy with a new idea without researching what really needs to be done. Apparently.
I lost a few of those first tomato plants but eventually added some peppers and summer squash. Now that I have a few years under my belt, I look back on that jungle of a garden and laugh a little nervously at my overly zealous self. I was so clueless. Since that blissfully ignorant time, I have spent hours reading gardening blogs and books, making mistakes, and learning from other gardeners.
I know you don’t have hours to spend searching the internet for information on how to start your first garden, so I have compiled a list of the very best gardening resources the internet has to offer.
A Note on Frugal Gardening
No matter what you decide to do with your garden, do it with a frugal mindset. You could spend infinite amounts of money on your garden, but it would wipe out any savings you get from growing your own food. What is the point of that?
I searched high and low for great blogs related to frugal gardening. There are plenty of good ones, but I just couldn’t find one single source that I would consider the best So, here is my suggestion. If you have time to read through the internet for ideas on how to grow your food inexpensively, do it. Otherwise, look for inexpensive garden tools, gear, fencing, etc at yard sales and on Craigslist. And for goodness sake, if you have time, grow your food from seeds, not plants!
Planning Your Garden
This is my favorite blog about self-sufficient living and, naturally, has a ton of great information on how to start various fruits, vegetables, and herbs. New Life on a Homestead is the story of one family’s journey from city life to self-sufficiency in the country. These particular posts are two of the most comprehensive garden planning resources I’ve seen in my many hours of
wasting time on searching the internet.
When to Start Your Seeds
Farmer’s Almanac Average Frost Dates in combination with the backs of your seed packets
The Farmer’s Almanac is an oldie but goodie. Just click on your location on this map, and it will give you the average last spring frost and first fall frost dates for your area. Your seed packets will tell you how long before these dates you should start your seeds. They should also tell you whether the seeds should be started indoors in pots or planted directly into your garden. Cross reference the map with your seed packets, and you’re in business.
How to Maintain Your Plants Through the Growing Season
I was so excited when I found this site. Not only does it provide detailed plant care instructions for fruits, vegetables, herbs, bulbs, trees, shrubs, and perennials, it also has some great miscellaneous information on the sidebar.
I especially like the plant finder, which is a search tool that lets you look for plants based on a variety of characteristics such as color, foliage, season of bloom, and special features. The weed finder is awesome as well – especially the pictures. Take a good look at the poison ivy entry so you don’t have the same problem I had last summer…
Harvesting and Preserving
This is a great site for how-to’s and information on food safety. There is a “How Do I?” section in the sidebar of this website that lists every possible type of food preservation method. Freezing is the easiest and fastest option for me in most cases, although there are some things I would rather can. If you’re considering canning, spend some time looking through the canning link. Although it is fairly safe and easy, there is a difference between water baths and pressure canning and you’ll want to make sure you process your food correctly. I don’t want you to end up like the guy who improperly canned elk meat and almost died.
I would love to hear veteran gardeners’ recommendations and your questions. We can learn so much from each other, so leave a comment below!