The truth is, I have a brown thumb. Keeping plants alive is difficult for me—even though I dearly love them. Thank goodness my husband’s thumb is green. Sean grows the plants; I manage the food, so between the two of us our home garden has improved annually.
- While it is totally awesome to have a big outdoor vegetable garden, starting small may be the best way to go. Growing herbs and sprouts indoors is an easy way to get tasty greens. Picking basil right off the plant hanging by your kitchen window may also be one of the best ways to reduce food waste because you only take what you need, when you need it. As for sprouts (alfalfa sprouts are super yummy on sandwiches, or on their own with a bit of soy sauce), the Moscow Food Co-op sells sprouting lids to get you going.
- Before beginning your outdoor garden, consider checking out the website smartgardener.com. It has great resources, and can help you identify where the best location for your garden is. Smart Gardener also prepares a planting schedule based on your (Moscow, Idaho) location, which makes knowing what to plant and when to plant so much easier (and more organized).
- Now is the season to start composting. Food scraps (ideally without meat or dairy products) can be dumped into a lidded container kept in your kitchen. Once that is full, add the fillings to your outdoor compost bin. A DIY compost bin can help keep costs down. Ours is made up of three old milk crates lined with landscaping fabric and topped with a make-shift lid. After adding scraps to the top bin, mix it up, maybe add some water and dead leaves or pieces of brown paper bags. Once the top bin is about ¾ full, rotate it to the middle. The compost will break down as it sits, so keep rotating. Some good compost starter and worms help to keep it going.
- Get some flowers planted to encourage bees, without which your garden may suffer. Plus, with the dangerously declining bee population, they need any help they can get. Consider purchasing some ladybugs to keep your garden free of aphids. It may also benefit you to hang some of those old cds (what do I do with these things?) in your garden; their shimmers scare away the quails (and other animals) who will munch on your seedlings.
- Once you have your garden established, what do you do with the beautiful bounty? Share it, freeze it, can it—or call Backyard Harvest and donate it.