Stillwater News Press


April 5, 2014

Grow! 04-06-14

Vegetable gardening for true beginner

In the summer months, there’s nothing that tastes better than a sun-ripened tomato right from the vine. How about a fresh zucchini, a pepper or a mess of green beans as part of a tasty and healthy meal?

If you’re a novice gardener, don’t be intimidated to get your hands dirty.

Vegetable gardening on a beginner scale can be relatively easy.

Your garden could be as simple as a couple of tomato or herb plants in containers on the patio, or it would be a full-fledged garden.

It really depends on how much time you want to commit to the project.

Don’t plant a garden so big you can’t keep up with it.

Bigger isn’t always better.

Also consider what type of vegetables you want to grow.

I like to get the most bang for my buck, so I plant things that yield more than one crop per season.

Produce such as beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, tomatoes and squash are good choices for abundant crops.

If you grow more than you can eat, you can give some to your neighbors, donate it to a local food bank or try canning some of your harvest so you can enjoy tasty vegetables all year long.

The first thing you need to do is determine what type of garden you want – a tilled bed or raised bed.

If you have poor soil or a bad back, a raised bed garden may be your best option.

You’ll also need to decide where the garden plot will be.

Vegetables love the sun, so try to run your rows north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

Keep in mind the plants need at least six to eight hours of full sun each day.

In addition, stay a good distance away from trees because a tree may cast too much shade and will zap water and nutrients the garden plants need.

It’s important for gardeners to know what type of soil they have. Vegetables need a good, loamy, well-drained soil for proper growth.

Oklahomans are more than familiar with drought conditions, so it’s important for you to keep your garden well watered, but don’t water so often the soil is always wet and soggy.

A good rule of thumb is about an inch of water per week.

As with any job you do, proper equipment is a must.

Some of the essential tools needed for vegetable gardening include a spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe, hand weeder and a wheelbarrow or bucket for moving around mulch or soil.

For those of you who have children at home who may not be jumping up and down on the vegetable bandwagon, enlist the help of your youngsters in the garden work.

It’s important for children to know food doesn’t just come from the grocery story.

And as an added bonus, your kiddos may even take some ownership in the care of the garden and be more willing to try the new foods they harvest.

The Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension has a large number of fact sheets available that contain a lot of valuable information for both novice and seasoned growers. Check out HLA 6044 – Oklahoma Garden Planning Guide, or HLA 6013 – Summer Care of the Home Vegetable Garden.

These fact sheets, and many more, can be found at

Simply key in search terms such as vegetable gardening.

Kim Toscano is assistant extension specialist and host of the OETA television program Oklahoma Gardening, which airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 3:30 p.m. Sundays, and assistant director of The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University.


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