2020-01-19 sc-mastergardp1

When starting a vegetable garden, Master Gardeners suggest growing only what you are going to eat. Bill Sevier/for the Tulsa World

This year, I am going to plant my first vegetable garden. Any suggestions? EC

Congratulations for deciding to take the plunge into growing your own delicious veggies. Your question is more than we can cover in this article, but here are some tips to get you started.

First, you will need to decide what kind of garden you are going to plant, as there are a lot of options.

If you are planning on doing what we call an in-ground garden, your first job will be to clear an area. This typically involves getting a soil tiller to loosen up the soil and get you started on removing the existing grass (no small task). The next step would be to get a soil test (we have instructions on our website at tulsamastergardeners.org).

Without a soil test, you are really flying blind in knowing how to amend your soil. A soil test will tell you the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as your soil pH. These are all important and will make a difference in how successful you are with your garden.

If you are not going to do an in-ground garden, you have a variety of options, the most popular being a raised bed or container garden. Because you are a beginner, we might suggest starting with a container garden. Almost any container can be used for this purpose. Just be sure there are holes in the bottom of your container to let the water drain or your plants will be sunk before you start.

Speaking of water, be sure to consider the proximity of a water source — the closer the better — because you are going to be spending a fair amount of time watering your plants to help them through our Oklahoma summers.

And, of course, you will have to decide what you are going to grow. We suggest growing what you are going to eat. If you only kind of like tomatoes, don’t plant a lot of tomatoes. This seems pretty obvious, but each year, some gardeners seem to be begging people to take some of their abundant tomato crop off their hands. Another vigorous producer is okra. It’s pretty easy to grow, and each plant produces an abundance of okra, so a couple of plants might be all you need for your home garden. You can find information on when to start your plants and which veggies do well in Oklahoma on our website.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? Well don’t be. Our Urban Gardener series of classes will be starting in a few weeks, and these classes can help you become a more successful gardener. The classes are from 6-8 p.m. Thursdays for six weeks starting March 5. Each evening, we will cover different topics, which include how plants grow, soil management, vegetable gardens, pollinator gardens, trees and shrubs.

You can sign up for these classes on our website. If you are interested, don’t delay because these classes typically sell out.

Good luck and happy gardening!

You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at mg@tulsamastergardeners.org.