Four simple gardening tips for the budding gardener

With February behind us, spring is so close we can hardly taste it. For many of us, that means it’s that time of year where we start to get out into the yard to prepare for the coming growing season. 

The past few years have been difficult for many, with grocery prices rising faster than the wages to combat them. This has led many to consider bringing back the “kitchen garden” that our grandparents depended on in generations past. 

The idea of planting a garden can be daunting for those who are just getting started. That being said, having your own garden is possible and incredibly rewarding because there is nothing like putting in effort into what goes on your table and having control over what goes into your food. 

Here is a very condensed list of things I wish I’d known before starting my own garden.

1. Start small. My parents are master gardeners. They bought the house they live in primarily because the yard was large enough for the garden they wanted. It is a veritable paradise with lush grape vines that grow over six feet tall, rows of raspberry bushes and black berry bushes, carpets of strawberry plants, lush well manicured fruit trees and more than 30 varieties of irises. When I started my own garden, I was a bit frustrated with my meager offerings of a couple of mint starts, a few potato plants, onions, a couple of strawberry plants and some Brussels sprouts. It seemed like I was putting in twice the work they were and getting very meager results in return. Now that I’m a little more experienced, I have realized that I tried to do too much my first year. Gardens are best built up over time.

2. The bugs are going to be awful for the first few years. Start early and stay on top of whatever pest control method you choose. I was completely unprepared for how bad the six leg menaces in my neighborhood were going to be. The aphids ANNIHILATED my Brussels sprouts my first year to my utter rage. Bringing in a new abundance of tasty fruits and vegetables is like opening a cheap all-you-can eat buffet right next to a college campus. However, like the line at In-N-Out and Chick-Fil-A, the bug parade slows down after a couple of years as the local wildlife acclimate to the new foliage in their domain. 

3. Make sure you’re planting your seeds or starts at the right time in the right environment. Plants, like all of us, have places where they thrive best. If you’re ordering anything online, make sure that you’re picking plants that do well in the regional hardiness zone you plan to plant them in. For most of Utah County it’s 6a, so when looking at possible additions to your garden, make sure that number is listed somewhere on the packaging regarding the best environment for the plant to thrive. You can also plug your zip code into planthardiness.ars.usda.gov to get that same information. You can also visit your local nursery or farm store, because most carry plants and seeds that do well in your particular climate.

4. Pay attention to the amount of sunlight the things you’re planting need. Some plants need more shade than others, and you will set yourself and your little green friends up for a harder time than necessary if you don’t pay attention to this important detail. Knowing the amount of sunlight the different parts of your yard get daily will be a crucial part of planning your garden. On the plant or seed label, things like “full sun” or “full shade” will be listed on the item description, so you know the best location in your garden for each plant to thrive. 

If you’re interested in growing your own food, but don’t have the space to do so, there are many options for you to explore. One of the great local resources we have is the Spanish Fork Community Garden. Not only is this a place to grow your garden, but it is a great place to get guidance from experts.

 The Community Garden is located near the city Police Station. It costs $20 to rent a 4×16’ space. If you are interested in a place on the waiting list for a plot, send an email to sfutcommunitygarden@gmail.com. 

Additionally, the Spanish Fork Community Garden is a great resource that donates produce to local organizations to help families in need like Tabitha’s Way Food Pantry. If you’re interested in sponsoring a garden for this purpose please visit  communityactionprovo.org/donations/ and write “Spanish Fork Community Garden” in the comment line. The Spanish Fork Community Garden also offers classes and fun community activities throughout the year. For more information, visit the “Spanish Fork CG” on Facebook or @spanishforkcommunitygarden on Instagram. You can also send them an email inquiry at sfutcommunitygarden@gmail.com to ask specific questions, get on their email list for their newsletter and any other information you would like to know. 

Growing a garden is a great investment of your time and money. Doing so allows you to have control over part of your own food supply, it benefits the natural flora and fauna of your neighborhood, and the money you can save is well worth the sweat and occasional broken nails. Gardening helps us connect with our environment and learn important skills too many of us have taken for granted. So get out there and start digging! 

Ariel Higgs
Ariel Higgs
Ariel Higgs is a married mother of four from Spanish Fork Utah. She enjoys writing, music, theatre, reading, and exploring the great outdoors. She has written for adoption.com and its affiliated websites and loves story telling in any form.

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