Spring is just around the corner, and you may have noticed some local produce stands and farmer’s markets showing signs of life as well! For vegetable lovers and purists, there’s nothing quite like the taste and texture of a fresh garden vegetable. With an early beginning to growing season and warm summers, Mississippi has an ideal climate for growing vegetables, including tomatoes, okra, cucumbers and peppers. And if you’ve ever thought about growing your own garden at home, here are some tips on getting started!
When you start small, you can learn from any possible mistakes before you invest more time and resources into a larger garden. For example, you can learn what soil works best, sunlight, plants and more.
- Step 1 – Choose a sunny location. Vegetable plants need at least six hours of sunlight per day. The more sunlight, the more quality crops you will grow.
- Step 2 – Use quality soil. Soft soil is more easily penetrable and should drain well. Using compost or another plant fertilizer will provide rich nutrients to your plants.
- Step 3 – Choose good quality seeds or plants. Seeds cost less than plants, but if seeds don’t germinate properly you’ve lost both time and money. Choosing high quality seeds can help give you an advantage when it comes time to harvest.
Mississippi State University Extension can give you information about vegetables that grow well in our state along with how to properly prepare for planting, choosing seeds and how to properly transplant plants.
Try Container Gardening
If a traditional garden doesn't work for your living space or if it is too much maintenance, try container gardening! This type of growing has rapidly gained popularity and works on patios, porches or other small spaces. And you can also use the mobility of pots to your advantage when there is a sun shortage in certain outdoor spots.
For beginners, greens are good! Lettuce and spinach grow well from seeds. Once they reach 3-4 inches in height, you can begin clipping leaves and enjoying fresh salads and more!
Tomatoes are often the go-to for newly minted gardeners, but they aren’t always the easiest. Larger plants require more care and once they become established, the fruits will become heavy and will likely need to be caged. For containers, dwarf varieties can work best. Cherry tomatoes are an excellent choice and make a flavorful addition to salads.
Learn more about different ways you can start and maintain your own garden, including tips on sun and soil conditions, companion planting, container gardening and more.
You may be a first time gardener or a green thumb expert, but anyone can reap the health benefits of gardening. Freshly grown produce is rich in nutrients like vitamin B, vitamin C and fiber. You and your family are also more likely to eat the fresh produce you have grown since you’ve invested the time to harvest the end-product. The exercise it takes to plant, tend and harvest your garden is beneficial too!
Here are some recipes you can enjoy with your own freshly-grown vegetables!