Hello and happy July!
If you don't know, I love love LOVE to garden. Now - let's be clear, I am NOT an expert! lol I do research, and I read information and try to do things the best way. But - I also am totally that person that just thinks, "Well, let's just plant it and see what happens!"
I live in North Texas, and that means I actually have a super long growing season. Realistically, I can have something most all year long, assuming we don't get a super harsh winter - or a historic freeze like we did in February. Since I'm a Southerner, I love to grow okra, tomatoes, black eyed peas and lots of different peppers. I've also learned that Japanese Eggplant grows really well for me, so that last 2 years I've had that in my garden as well.
So I want to just encourage you - if you think you want to garden, just do it! There are tons of websites and resources you can find. Basically you want to know what growing region you are in, and you can look up the best varietals for your region - if you want to get that specific. You can find seeds everywhere - even the dollar stores - and you should be able to find transplants at most home stores like Lowe's or Home Depot. I prefer to start at my local nurseries to help support them, then on to the bigger stores to fill in the blanks.
For seeds, I do prefer to get heirloom or organic, and Sustainable Seed Company is my go-to. I love that they have packs like a "Fall Garden". I even bought one this past year that is a "survival" pack and comes in a resealable envelope that helps keeps the seed viable for quite a few years.
You can grow in containers - don't make it hard! But if you want to do something bigger, we've had great success with raised beds. We've evolved over the years. My husband has made simple wooden beds, but this year a friend told us about some really nice, taller metal beds that were on sale at Tractor Supply. So we got 2 - and they are great! He actually built platforms for them with a sheet of weed cover cloth, and they are the perfect height for me.
You can see this bed is nice and deep, and it actually has a bar that goes across the middle half for support. This bed has tomatoes, eggplant and okra in it.
One of my favorites to grow is beans and peas - they are so easy!!! Right now I have a half bed of black eyed peas, and as my radishes and beets get pulled, I will probably replace them with more peas. Seriously - they are probably the easiest thing to grow! I actually let some of my black eyed peas dry on the vine last year and saved them - and that's what I used to plant my crop this year! You just need to leave some room since they are small viny bushes, but once you plant they will probably sprout within a week when well-watered.
They get picked once the pods begin to turn yellow. You don't want to wait too long or they will be dried - but like I mentioned above, you can just go ahead and totally dry those and save them to plant next year. And my favorite are actually purple hull peas, which in fact, do have purple pods when it's time to pick them. I just couldn't find them last year.
One last thing - a friend told me about this helpful app called Seed to Spoon. It allows you to add plants to your "garden" and it gives you dates they should sprout and then anticipated harvest dates. You can add pictures, different kinds of events. And of course it has resources like pests you can look up, there's a weather feature and you can even look up plants by "health benefit". When you pull up a plant it gives you literally everything you need to know from planting dates to how to cook to saving the seeds!
I hope this has encouraged you to try growing a little something for yourself! Even if it's just 1 tomato plant in a container, it's really so rewarding to grow your own food!
Blessings from our house to yours!
Sarah Claburn, ND