Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have become interested in starting their own vegetable gardens, and have sometimes discovered it’s not as easy as it seems.

For them, there’s the online Seed to Supper program, offered by Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN), which is housed within New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Seed to Supper is offering a new spring online course that takes participants from planning a garden all the way to harvest. Participants can enroll in a weekly course or take the self-paced course.

“There’s definitely an interest for gardening, but I don’t know if it’s because our program is more well-known now, or if people are still thinking about what happened last year and are still wanting to grow their own food,” said Sally Cassady, ICAN food system specialist. “I think people really appreciate being able to connect online with others.

“Something I try to focus on is where people are from, so they can potentially have a network in their community so they can swap seed or harvest or supplies,” she said.

Cassady said the Seed to Supper program also has a private Facebook group for participants, where they can share photos of their gardens and offer items to others in their area.

While many new gardeners may have dreams of creating lush garden beds filled with a variety of vegetables, Cassady said it takes a lot of trial and error to become successful.

“I started in 2012 trying to container garden, and I did not successfully grow anything until 2017,” Cassady said. “Hopefully, with the resources we offer, it won’t take people five years to succeed.”

Cassady said a common mistake people make when attempting to create container gardens is using regular garden soil instead of potting soil. Another mistake she sees is people not fertilizing their container gardens enough.

She also suggests starting out with growing lettuce, an easy vegetable for beginners to grow. Beginner gardeners should also spend time researching their potential new hobby.

For more information on starting a vegetable garden, visit https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR457/welcome.html. For more information on the Seed to Supper program or to register for the free statewide course, visit https://ican.nmsu.edu/seedtosupper.html.