About This Course
I created this course to help first-time gardeners wade through the sometimes overwhelming process of starting a garden. There are so many fantastic books, and so much free information on the internet, and surely some kind of latent agricultural instinct in all of us, it seems like starting a garden should be easy! But in fact, something about it seems uniquely daunting and the wealth of information can easily become too much.
This course breaks up that information into small, simple portions, and paces it out over time so that you will never feel overwhelmed. Each week will start with a short reading and an opportunity for online discussion and questions, then move on to a hands-on project for you to complete in your garden. We will end each week with a live check-in session.
Like any good coach, I will encourage you to slow down and focus on building a strong foundation. If you are in a rush to start growing all your own food, you might feel frustrated by the speed at which this course moves, and at how small I recommend you start. If you have a true abundance of time, energy and motivation, let me know and I will help you fast-track. However, most of us are trying to figure out how to fit gardening into a life full of other things, and moving slowly will lead to much greater success and enjoyment in the long run.
Week 1: Start Where You Are
During our first week together we will gather information about your household and the place where you live. To round out this mostly thoughtful lesson with some hands-on learning, we will start a tiny salad garden right outside your back door.
Week 2: Making a Plan
Next, we will use all the pieces of information that we gathered to answer basic questions like what to plant and when. Then we'll put it together into a simple plan, custom made for your garden.
Week 3: Digging In
After doing all that prep work, you finally get to break ground, both literally and metaphorically. We will go over the basics of soil dynamics, and talk about how to turn the hard-packed dirt under your your lawn into the luscious, loose, fertile soil that vegetables love.
Week 4: Sowing Seeds
This week we’ll learn about how to make a nice fluffy seedbed on top of the soil, how far apart to place your seeds, and how to take care of them during their “quiet week” before germination.
Week 5: Of Weeds and Water
Water is life, and without it, your baby plants can die surprisingly fast. Unfortunately, water is also life for lots of other seeds in the soil that you didn’t plant, and starting a new garden means pulling new weeds. We’ll talk about how and when to water, and what to do about the crop you didn’t plant.
Week 6: Garden Care
As your garden grows and matures, a whole litany of things can (and eventually will) crop up to confuse and dismay you. Fear not! We will cover a few practical strategies for the most common garden challenges, but more importantly, we’ll discuss how to change your perspective about gardening, how to support the health of your garden and not sweat the details.
Week 7: Harvesting
Finally! We will talk about how to know when it is time to harvest, how to get in the habit of looking in the garden rather than the fridge when dinnertime comes around, and what to do with your your beautiful vegetables once you get them to the kitchen.
Week 8: Growing Outward
Now that you have some garden success under your belt, you can begin to grow outward, expanding your garden beds and your crops. We will learn about what you might be able to plant next, either for fall harvests or cover crops to protect your soil over the winter. But we’ll think big too, start to make plans for next year, and learn a few tricks to make your future garden easier and better.
Weekly Time Commitment
Obviously the amount of time each participant puts in to this class, and their garden, will vary. But here is a basic, minimum estimate.
- Reading: 20 minutes
- Online Discussion: 10 minutes
- Hands-On Project: 1-3 hours
- Live Video Session: 30 minutes
Although you could complete this course on a smart phone, I really recommend that you use a computer, if at all possible. There will be many pdfs to download and a few Word documents to complete.
Our live video sessions will use Zoom. Although you can theoretically attend Zoom sessions online, without an account, I recommend that you sign-up and download their app to streamline the process.