Ok so Ive decided i want control over what gose into my body and seeing how i cant raise cattle in a las vegas apartment im going to try and grow my own veggies and herbs, fruit if i can figure out the space. so what i really need to know is, how the heck do I get started?
How do i get started?
Not knowing the details of your apartment; south facing, windows, patios, etc. I'll just guess.
You could go and buy containers and planters at almost any store. Our groceries have them.
I'd start small so you won't get discouraged if you have a problem. The last thing I want is for you to give up. Just get a couple or three 3 to 5 gallon size containers. You can grow alomst any veggie in them.
Fill the container with any potting mix and start having fun. Just dont give up.
Once your confidence builds, add containers or try something new.
the sun comes up right over the back patio, which is where i had planned to start my garden. What kind of Veggies would you recommend?
I began gardening last year and my first plant was basil from seed and planters. This year I am trying tomatoes, hot pepper, eggplants and a bunch of herbs. I'm learning on the go. Lots of info available on the websites like this one but like yardener mentioned just buy the stuff and plant it. You will learn a lot as you watch your plants grow and remember it takes time. If you have any problems or questions this forum has some great gardeners that are always willing to help.
Pick sometyhing you like, or better, easy to grow and not fresh in supermarkets. Cherry tomatoes if you have room. I like Bok Choy since it can be harvested at any stage to provde salad, steamed or boiled greens, stir-fry or soup-makings. Or munch the stems like celery.
Let me get back on places to find free 4 gallon buickets.
Here are some places to ask for free 5-gallon plastic tubs:
burger joints (pickle tubs)
restaurants (especially Asian)
bakeries & doughnut shops
painters & drywall contractors - wash well! (Some use plastic-lined cardboard tubs.)
empty buckets of kitty litter but wash well (maybe less UV-resistant)
It never hurts to bring fresh vegetables, cut flowers or potted plants with you, to offer in return.
Be sure to say "and I'll clean them out!"
Maybe also bring one example bucket with you.
Home Depot also sells "Homer Buckets" and "Leaktite" buckets, maybe 10 for $30.
(These ideas came from many different people.)
You mentioned morning sun, and that's good. The more hours per day you have good light, the better. Clouds and haze do "spread the light around corners".
This is just me, but I used to find it hard to start seeds without the seedlings dieing from rot. I usually over-water, and that's bad. Now I start the seeds first in some small pot or cell, like a Dixie cup, with fast-draining soilless mix.
It is best to give seeds a very clean or sterile soiless mix at first, so a small cup saves money.
Don't water it too much, or ever let the soil surface dry all the way out.
Often people cover seed-starting pots with plastic film to keep the humidity in.
As soon as the seedling emerges from the surface, remove the film! The air should not be humid.
Right away they need the best light you can give them. If it is flourescent tubes, jam tgo tubes right down within a few inches of the seedlings! Sunlight is better.
Soon you will have to "pot up" seedlings from c ups to qujarts or half gallon pots ... or go right into a big 3-5 gallon bucket.
That bucket needs "potting mix" or "potting soil" that drains so well that one lirttle pot can emulate the water-draining power of a whole bed of natural soil. The wtaer must be able to drain OUT so that air can filter IN. Roots need air, and they will die if they sit in water-saturated soil for very many minutes.
So beware "potting mix" that feels heavy or is "fine" like peat. It should be surprisingly coarse, because a little pot does not drain as well as real soil. Even 5 gallons is small compared to the Earth! It's even small compared to the smallest raised bed or many planters.
Usually potting "mix" drains better than potting "soil". Once they say "soil", they can put the cheapest junk imaigable into it. At least when they say "mix", most of the igredients have to be a LITTLE expensive, sop they might as well put in half-decent stuff. Maybe ask a gardening friend or good nursery what they use LOCALLY. I got pointed to a nursery SUPPLY place 15 miles away that was cool.
Of course, once you buy a big bag, you're stuck with it. So you may wind up adding ("amending") that expensive bag of mix with things like coarse Perlite. If you can find coarse grit like crushed rock, great. You wnat COARSE grit or crushed rock: 1/8th inch is great. Probably 1/4" gravel is bigger than you want, so don;'t use LOTS of that if you have it.
However, if you can get clean shredded pine bark, like clean, coarse or medium pine bark mulch, that is great for improving drainage. Make your mix 20-60% bark shreds. Screen out the fine stuff and keep long shreds and medium chunks, since even a 1" shred might be only 1-2 mm thick and wide. And bark is better than grit becuase it hodls a little water. Bark is better than peat becuase bark doesn't hiold TOO MUCH water.
When your drainage is fast, your aeration will be good, and the roots will grow right down to the bottom of the bucket. And you can fertilize safely, even wsith soluble chemical fertilizers, because if you do over-fertilize, you can just flush that bucket with fresh water until it flows out the bottom, carrying away excess fertilizer, salt and acidity.
But go easy on fertilzer anyway: as with watering, too much is very bad, but too little is hardly bad at all.
(You might need to add a little lime to keep acidity down, but probably most mixes already have some lime. Dolomite lime is better becuase it adds MG as well as Ca.)
Almost anything called "sand", no matter how "coarse" they say it is, will be mostly much too small for improving drainage in a container. If a grain "sand" is bigger than 2 mm, it is technically grit or gravel. And you want stuff no smaller than 1/9" - 1/8" - 1/6" - like 3-4mm. And a bag of even "extra-coarse" sand is usually 50 fine sand plus 25% medium sand. I don't know why.
Screened crushed rock seems to be more honest than "sand".