Looking to learn how to start a garden?
It is perfectly normal not to know where to start. This post goes over the basic steps you should take when you want to start gardening. It’s a great pastime and you can have lots of fun doing it. Here are some handy tips to get you going.
1. Choose What You Want to Grow
As a rule, you shouldn’t grow anything that you won’t eat unless it’s flowers. You should mainly focus on vegetables, fruits, and herbs that your family enjoys the most. Your choice of crops should make sense for your climate and soil type. Establish what your gardening zone is and get the estimates for the first and last frost dates. You might want to talk to a few successful gardeners in the area to establish which crops do well. If you have a small garden, you want to avoid crops like giant pumpkins that grow over a large area.
2. Choose an Ideal Location for Your Garden
Vegetables and fruits usually require a minimum of five hours under direct sunlight every day so that they can fruit. Herbs, root veggies, and herbs do well in partial shade. This should inform your positioning of the garden. Also, consider the accessibility of the garden since you will need to water, pick, and care for the plants. A garden that’s out of sight will tend to be neglected. For this reason, you should locate the garden is as close as possible to the house. If you have wildlife, pets, or kids running around, you might want to devise ways to keep them away. Also, avoid areas with strong winds and frost pockets.
3. Plan Your Garden Beds
Once you’ve identified a great spot for your garden, you now need to decide on the type and size of the garden beds. Using raised beds is recommended since they’re attractive and make it easier to work in your garden. However, they dry out much quicker than sunken beds so they may not be an ideal choice for very dry areas.
Make a point of planting your garden in beds or blocks of plants instead of single rows. A typical bed is 3 or 4 feet across. It should be narrow enough to allow you to reach the center from the sides. It should be a maximum of 10 feet long so you don’t have to step into the bed to compact the ground.
Place the plants in a grid pattern or in rows inside the garden beds. This will help to minimize walkways and maximize space for growing. Only add soil condiments and fertilizer to the planting area to save on money and time. You might want to plant companion plants to help attract insects and boost yields.
Don’t get too ambitious when starting out. Start small and grow gradually. A small and well taken care of garden can produce more than a large one that’s poorly tended. Each plant should have enough room to grow so make sure to plant with the end in mind. Overcrowding the plants will make it difficult for them to grow to their full potential.
4. Buy Some Gardening Tools
Using the right tools for your garden will make your work much easier. You certainly wouldn’t use a butter knife to chop up carrots, would you? Some of the basic gardening tools you should invest in include a garden hose, dirt rake, scuffle hoe, leaf rake, garden shovel, and other hand tools. Avoid buying cheap plastic tools and instead go for real metal. These tools will last much longer. Keep the tools sharp and clean and get the right size to reduce the risk of injury. Using good tools helps save time and reduce the amount of effort required to get simple jobs done.
5. Test the Soil
The soil is one of the most important considerations when starting a garden. Before you get started with the garden beds and planting, you want to find out a few things about the soil in your area. Is it alkaline, acidic, or neutral? Is it sand, silt, clay, or a mixture? Is it rocky? Is there a risk of contamination from structures bordering the garden? Does it have the right amounts of nutrients?
You can answer some of these questions by mere observation, but others will require lab tests. Most garden crops do well with a pH of 7 (neutral). It is, therefore, important to find out what kind of pH the plants you want to grow thrive in before you start gardening. Make sure the soil has balanced nutrient levels.
You can get an at-home soil test kit from most hardware stores for around $10. This kit can help you test pH, phosphate, phosphorous, and nitrogen levels.
6. Build Your Soil
If you are starting out with sod, you will need to cut it up into lumps and repurpose it, till it in, or lay down cardboard or wet newspaper to smother it and build a bed on top. Make sure to prepare in fall since it’s the best time, but you can always do it in spring as well.
The soil should be deep, fertile, well-drained, and rich in organic matter. Healthy soil plays a critical role in making plants healthy and vibrant. It also improves nutrition and pest resistance.
7. Choose Between Seeds and Transplants
Some plants are not meant to be transplanted. They do best when they start and finish in the same place. These include carrots, peas, beets, spinach, nasturtiums, and snapdragons. The reason for this is down to the fact that they have a delicate root system. Plants that germinate quickly such as turnips, beets, peas, and beans also do best when you start from the seed. Check out the types of seeds your local farmer or garden center has to offer when selecting seeds.
Starting out with baby plants allows you to have more control of the results in your garden. They give you a jumpstart on the season because they’ll mature faster and you’ll harvest much earlier. Transplants are more resistant to pests and insects. Talk to a professional at Royal Decks to help you decide what to go with.
8. Plant with Care
Check out the transplant containers and seed packets for instructions of how to plant. There’s really not much to it. Just dive in and start planting. You will learn as you go along.