Vegetable Gardening for Beginners — Expert Advice

Derek Fell gives vegetable gardening tips to beginning gardeners.

| January/February 1977

Vegetable gardening for beginners can be downright confusing. And no wonder: Just look at the myriad books on the subject that have recently flooded the market. Some of these texts are so technical and long-winded that you have to be a Ph.D. botanist to understand them...while others are so general and superficial that they fail to teach anything of importance to anyone! And there seems to be little between the two extremes!

So this article will be a little different. It will contain no theory and no generalities. Instead, I'm just going to tell you how to garden. Mind you, I didn't go to school to learn gardening...rather, I asked a lot of good gardeners a lot of questions, so that — over the years — I've been able, gradually, to develop a "system" that gives me a good deal of satisfaction. It's that system I want to outline in this piece.

A Horror Story

My first garden was a disaster. I spent three days hand digging a 50-by-50-foot plot of ground...planted it with an assortment of vegetables (including melons, sweet corn, and the largest-fruited tomatoes I could find) that were too tempting to pass up...and waited.

The results were underwhelming. Most of my tomatoes contracted blossom-end rot and matured too late to be of any value. (Besides which, their outsides were hideously distorted, their insides almost hollow, the yield dismal, and the flavor terrible!)

Likewise, not an ear of corn was worth eating. Even the raccoons didn't venture into the patch to steal a bite, since the cobs were either too small to bother with, or else heavily infested with smut disease.

Not a single one of my cantaloupes grew bigger than a grapefruit...and they all tasted like cucumbers at that! Even such easy-to-grow fare as radishes, beets, carrots and lettuce were hopeless failures.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard