Author Orsen Scott Card once said "Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden." And while I hope that is not your reason for planting a vegetable garden this spring, this topic seemed appropriate for both Gardening Month and the current economic malaise.
Container gardens are perfect for small spots such as patios, window sills, balconies or doorsteps. They also sidestep problems related to poor soil conditions and soil-borne diseases. "Vegetables which are ideally suited for growing in containers include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley." This single-page site from Texas A&M covers the how-to gamut including synthetic soils, containers, seeding, transplanting, watering, light and controlling diseases and insects.
"Vegetables are actually some of the easiest plants to grow, especially from seed. To encourage your child's enthusiasm, let them choose from the easy vegetables to grow list and you will both be delighted with the results." Kiddie Gardens is chock full of advice on what to plant, how to plant and why to plant. The long list of benefits of growing your own vegetables includes value for your money, being assured of freshness, eating organic, and teaching your children a valuable life skill.
A no dig garden is one that is planted in a raised bed created with layers of organic material such as compost, fertilizer, straw, hay and newspaper. "Building a no dig garden is a particularly good gardening for kids project because the garden can be built and planted in just a couple of hours." And for something edible in just a few days, try starting with bean shoots, alfalfa, cress or snow pea seeds. "Put the seeds into a clean, wide mouth jar and place a mesh material over the mouth. It must be a material that water and air can pass through, but not the seeds."
"All gardens have problems. One year it may be insects and disease and the next year it may be a drought. Gardening does require work, but by learning a few basic skills and techniques, you can make your vegetable gardening experience a pleasant one." And this University of Illinois Extension site is a terrific spot to learn those basics. It covers topics such as location, basic tools, soil prep, and planning tips. It also includes an illustrated Vegetable Directory and a glossary of gardening terms from "acidity" to "zucchini."