I have noticed that many people are starting food gardens. I’ve always wanted to grow some of my own vegetables, but it seems very daunting. Is it difficult to set-up a vegetable garden?

A: Your perceptions are correct! With the advent of COVID-19, the interest in gardening, especially food gardening, has soared. People are spending more time at home and may wish to have a more secure food supply.

Vegetable gardening is not difficult. A beginner can start with a few containers planted with easy to grow crops. Or, if you have space to garden directly in the ground, a plot no greater than 10 feet by 10 feet is a good size to start with. Try these options before digging up large area. If you have never gardened before, this is a good way to “try out: gardening without a lot of labor or expense.

The two main things to keep in mind are sun and water. Most vegetables require at least 8 hours of sun per day. Southern and western exposures without shading from buildings and trees offer the most sunlight. You can rely on Mother Nature to provide water, but in recent years she has been quite fickle and summer drought periods are increasing. You will have greater success if you irrigate your plants. Make sure you have a spigot nearby or a hose- hauling water gets old very quickly!

Gardeners in Northern New York must plan according to our somewhat shorter growing season. We can grow most vegetables, but you must select varieties that will mature in about 120 days and plant crops at the right time. Cool season vegetables like peas, beets, spinach and carrots can be planted as early as late April, depending on weather and soil conditions. Other crops and transplants require warmer temperatures and should be planted in late May. Examples include green beans, tomatoes, and peppers.

The best place to get research-based gardening information that is relevant to your location is your county Cooperative Extension. Internet searches often bring up sites that are trying to sell you a product and/or offering information that is not researched based.

In fact, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County will be offering an online educational program “Vegetable Gardening for Beginners” from 10 a.m. to noon March 13. We will go into much more detail on what, when, where, and how to plant vegetables in a home garden. To register for this program visit: wdt.me/veg_garden.

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