Fruit and Vegetable Gardening Guide

This how-to guide gives you the basics on starting your vegetable garden, whether you have backyard space to spare or a small spot ready for containers.

How to Maintain Your Garden

Optimism and creativity are essential to positively maintaining your garden.

Keep Your Garden in Shape

Photo: Oxmoor House

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  • Work in moderation. Though it is easy to excitedly begin big and bold, don’t overdo it. Set achievable goals that don’t tax your muscles or your time to the point of pain. Like exercise, gardening has no finish line. One season leads to the next. The idea is to enjoy the journey and gather your rewards along the way.
  • Challenge your mind and your body. If you are intellectually engaged in the garden, you’re more likely to be fulfilled by it. Each season is different. Try new varieties. Research the history on how a vegetable came to be in America today. Lay out new garden plans each year. Research a pest or problem and figure out how to deal with it. Then take comfort in the fact that you’ll never know it all. Whether it’s your first season or your fortieth, there will always be something new to grow, learn, and do.
  • Adapt your garden to your life. If you have difficulty bending, plant in raised beds or containers. If you have sore joints, choose tools with large, padded handles. If there are tasks that are difficult for you, such as turning the soil or bringing home a quantity of mulch, get help, and then do the work that you can enjoy.
  • Be optimistic. Try a new plant or variety each season. If a plant dies or doesn’t grow as it should this season, there’s always next year. Research, learn, and look forward to applying the lesson the next time.
  • Be creative. Vegetable gardens are particularly fun because they are replanted often, sometimes three or more times each year. Think of fun ways to make a trellis for tomatoes and cucumbers, arrange your veggies in an ornamental pattern, and mix in flowers with your vegetables to use as table decorations or garnishes.
  • Be social. Gardeners learn from one another. Sign up for a gardening class. Volunteer at a local botanical garden. Rent a plot in a community garden. Visit other gardeners and invite them to visit you. Get online to share and learn; many social media sites are fantastic resources for virtually visiting any garden or sharing recipes.
  • Relax. Time spent weeding or doing other mindless chores is a great time to work out frustration, daydream, and problem-solve. Many gardeners find that working with their hands frees their minds.

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