You Don’t Need a Green Thumb to Plant a Garden. Today I am sharing my best tips for planting a vegetable garden and My Favorite Green Smoothie recipe.
Living in Southern California has its advantages. I am planting seeds and plants while most of you still have snow on the ground. Soon you will be enjoying the spring weather, and you will have plenty of time to plant a garden. In the meantime, let me share my “no green thumb required” tips for growing fresh vegetables in your backyard.
Tips to a No Green Thumb Vegetable Garden
Get Plenty of Sun
The first step is finding the right location. Most vegetables need an average of six hours a day of sunlight. Most herbs need four hours of sunlight. You can plant vegetables in an existing garden bed, in pots, or in raised beds, which is what I have done. I love my raised beds as I can control the soil quality and they are a great addition to a very unsightly part of our yard!
I built these vegetable beds with my handyman. You can find all of the instructions to build raised beds in one of my earlier blog posts here.
Can you see that this part of gardening does not require a green thumb?
Prepare Your Garden and Use Good Soil
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love the raised vegetable beds we built in our backyard. Each spring I remove the old plants, amend the soil, and plant a new variety of vegetables.
I have four beds and at least one and a half of them are for tomatoes. I have read different opinions as to whether or not you should rotate your vegetables in different areas year after year. I do know if there is any sign of tomato rot, then you should move your tomato plants from one bed to another each year. But tomatoes prefer to grow in the same place every year, so plant in the same spot unless you have had a disease problem.
When I first built our vegetable beds, I layered the beds with ground cloth, 4″ of rocks, potting soil, and amendments. I had special vegetable garden soil delivered and it’s the smartest thing I ever did. Each spring I add a soil enhancement called Amend (that I purchased at Home Depot). This year I added three bags to each (they are large and heavy by the way) and then mixed them with the soil underneath. You won’t need to work out after doing this as it’s a lot of work. But it makes all of the difference in the success of your vegetable garden.
If you are planting straight into the ground, you should also add Amend to your soil. I suggest you add about 3″ across the top layer and then mix it in.
It’s tempting, but don’t take the easy route and just plant new plants. Take the time to replenish the soil with some nutrients. It will make all the difference, I promise!
And yet another tip that does not require a green thumb.
Support Your Plants
I also made my own tomato cages. You can find a complete tutorial on my post titled How to Make Tomato Cages. They were so easy to make the first time that I made four more last year. They still look as good as they did the first year I made them although the wood has now turned grey so I think they look better! If you plant tomatoes (which I highly suggest you should do) then be sure to surround them with wire or wood cages as soon as you plant them. You need to have cages for successful tomato growing.
I like starting my garden with small plants. Last year I bought everything at an organic nursery and my crop was so-so. This year I bought all of my starter plants at Home Depot and they look fabulous. Go figure.
Grow What You Like
Just be sure to grow herbs and vegetables that you like and will use. My motto is, if you don’t like it, don’t grow it.
I have been growing tomato plants for many years. A homegrown tomato cannot be replicated and always tastes better than one you can buy at any grocery store. Nothing is better than growing your own tomatoes. I love heading out to the garden every day in the summer to pick tomatoes for my meal prep. A plentiful tomato crop is very easy to grow.
Companion planting can help tomatoes grow. Tomatoes are compatible with basil, chives, onion, parsley, marigold, nasturtium, and carrots. I also suggest you put the tomato cages in the beds (or garden) before you plant your tomatoes. It is easier to space out the cages first and then plant your tomato plants. Then I place basil plants between the tomato plants.
Take Care and Nurture Your Plants as They Grow
Vegetable gardens need attention. I always add enhancements even before I plant my tomato plants. You can add a small handful of Epsom salts, crushed eggshells, and potting soil into the hole before you plant the tomato.
Yes, I did say eggshells. Using eggshells will add extra nutrients to your tomato plants and deter slugs. As the eggshells break down, calcium is released freely into the soil. The calcium helps your tomato plants grow and prevents blossom end rot.
You should use crushed eggshells, Epsom salts, and potting soil. After I dig my deep hole, I dump in a handful of eggshells, a handful of Epsom salts, and a cupful (it’s not an exact measurement!) of potting soil.
I have also used Fish Emulsion to fertilize my plants. It doesn’t smell great but my plants sure to love it. Tomatoes also do well with a good deep watering followed by days of no water at all. This encourages the roots to work even more deeply into the soil, seeking out moisture.
You also might want to prune the suckers on your tomato plants. Tomato suckers are the growths that appear in the junction between the stem and a branch of a tomato plant. When left to grow, tomato plant suckers will become another main stem with branches, flowers, fruit, and even more suckers of their own. Pruning tomato suckers is often recommended because the resulting new stem is competing for nutrients with the original plant. Your plant may have more fruit if you let the suckers grow, but the tomatoes will be smaller and the plant will be more cumbersome, requiring a lot of effort to stake as the summer progresses. Pruning tomato suckers helps your plants to be more manageable and more robust at the same time.
The Best Green Smoothie Recipe
I know what you are thinking. How do I know this is the best recipe? Because I just made one for my best friend because she told me “Anything with Kale and Spinach cannot taste good.” She was quite adamant about it.
And what did she say after she tried my Green Smoothie recipe? “We should make one of these every afternoon. It’s healthy and tastes so good.”
Oh brother. I just might never let her forget this.
Look at these healthy ingredients! I am going to grow spinach and kale in my garden this summer so I can always enjoy my “daily” green smoothie.
I hope you will try this recipe.
- 1 cup Kale
- 1 cup Baby Spinach
- 1 8 oz. container of Coconut or Almond Yogurt
- 1 cup of ice
- 1/2 - 1 cup of Almond Milk (varies by thickness desired)
- One banana
- One Green apple, cored and sliced
Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
Here is everything you might need to plant a vegetable garden with or without a green thumb! Enjoy! This is such a fun hobby and you will get so much joy from your vegetables.
And you do not need a green thumb!
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