Growing your own vegetables is healthy, inexpensive and fun for the entire family. Sacramento’s moderate climate is perfect for growing a wide range of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Whether you have an acre or just a small patio, spring in Sacramento is a great time to start your own garden with these simple tips and local resources.
1. Start small. If you are starting a garden for the first time, it is important to keep it small and simple, otherwise you risk becoming overwhelmed and losing interest. Determine how much space you have, time you have to invest and what you want to grow. If you only have a small patio, consider a container garden. Know how much sunlight is available. Most fruits and vegetables require six to eight hours of sun each day. Leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach grow well in shade.
2. Know your soil. Sacramento is generally composed of loam soil or clay, which can make it difficult to work with, so it is important to know what kind of soil you are starting with and mix in top soil. A raised bed or container can use a good-quality garden soil. Add additional nutrients with a garden fertilizer, organic peat moss or compost. Make sure the soil stays moist, but don’t over water. It’s better to keep soil on the dry side and provide your plants with plenty of air circulation and sunlight.
3. Choose your crop. Tomatoes, lettuce, berries, herbs, the choices are endless. How do you decide what to grow? Start with what you like to eat or try a simple herb garden. For spring planting, choose warm-weather crops such as tomatoes, beans, melons or squash. Cool-season vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli and peas should be planted in the fall.
4. Buy quality tools. To really maximize your garden’s potential, invest in high-quality tools. For a small or container garden, you will want to have a spade, a trowel and a good pair of gloves. For a larger garden, add a garden rake, a round-handed shovel and a garden hoe. Vegetable gardens do best with hand watering or a drip system. Avoid sprinklers as they tend to over-water plants.
5. Get kids involved. What kid doesn’t love to dig in the dirt? Gardening teaches kids about the importance of health and nutrition, gets them outside and gives them an opportunity to be creative. Get kids involved from the beginning. Have them help with the design, select which fruits and vegetables to grow, dig the holes and help with watering and weeding.
Green Acres Nursery and Supply
8501 Jackson Road
Sacramento, CA 95826
Hours: Mon to Fri – 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sat- 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sun- Closed
Green Acres Nursery and Supply has a large selection of plant material, landscape products and garden supplies.
UC Davis Arboretum
1 Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Hours: Gardens – 24 hours a day, every day of the year; Office – Mon to Fri- 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
A great place to learn about local plants and view documented plant collections is at the UC Davis Arboretum. The Arboretum features 100 acres of gardens, education and demonstration plantings, plant sales and guided tours.
Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery
4681 Fair Oaks Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95864
Hours: Open daily – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
This one-of-a-kind garden center features trees, shrubs and flowers, as well as fountains, pottery and statuary/yard art.
For more great tricks, tips and advice about your home, visit CBSSacramento/YourHome.
Karen Boruff is a freelance writer living in Sacramento. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.