You took the plunge and want to start a garden! First of all, congratulations! Starting and maintaining a garden is full of adventure, trial and error, and most of all, lots of fun.
So, you are ready to get your garden started, but where do you start? There are many things to consider when starting a garden and it may feel overwhelming, but don’t worry. We are here to help you get your gardening journey off on the right foot. These 7 simple steps will help guide you in the right direction and assist you in creating the garden of your dreams.
1. Find Your Garden’s Home
Location, location, location! Location is so important to consider when deciding on where to start your garden. Regardless of what you decide to plant, the location of your garden will need to have good and easy access to sun and water. Although plants differ in the amount of sun and water, picking an area that gets adequate sunlight and allows for easy watering will save you a lot of headaches from the start. Additionally, make sure to select flat ground and ground that drains well. Uneven ground can result in uneven distribution of water. If the ground tends to have standing water in it, avoid these areas as soil that cannot freely drain will lead to roots rotting and plants that won’t grow.
When picking your garden’s location, try and pick an area where you can see and enjoy your plants. Not only will seeing your garden bring you joy, but it will also allow you to keep a close eye on when your plants need to be watered. Having your garden in a place that’s easy to see can help you catch any issues that are arising and be aware of any animals that might put your plants at risk of harm.
2. Create a Healthy Foundation
As a strong foundation is essential for building a home that will last, a healthy foundation is essential for a garden to thrive. Now that you have determined the right location for your garden, you’ll want to ensure that the soil is in top condition to optimize the success of your plants. Regardless of if you are planting in the ground, in raised beds, or pots, select the right soil for what you plan to plant. If you are planting in pots, be sure to get soil that is specific to potted plants. If you are planting in the ground, select a soil that will accommodate your vegetables or flowers. Once you have the right soil, you can boost the quality of the soil by light tilling or digging as well as adding organic material such as manure, compost or decayed leaves to help keep the soil in top condition.
3. Choose Your Plants
Decide on what you want to plant. First, establish if you are wanting to plant from seed or the whole plant. Planting from seed requires a bit more work and preparation as you must start the process earlier in the season, but both can be equally rewarding.
You can browse your local home and garden store or even check out FB Marketplace or Offer Up for local deals on plants that you are interested in. Sometimes determining what to plant can be as simple as walking by other people’s garden and taking note of what you like and don’t like. Are you wanting to grow fruit, vegetables, perennials, or annuals? Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one season and then die. Perennials on the other hand are plants that live for more than two years.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing plants is to determine if they will grow well in your weather climate. It can be frustrating to invest in a plant that may not be successful in your climate.
4. Learn About Your Plants
Once you have settled on the plants you want to grow, do a little research about them. This step may seem tedious and time-consuming, but getting a quick background on your plant can help you prevent hiccups later. A quick check on which plants need more or less sun might help you with where exactly you decide to put each plant. Another small bit of research that can go a long way is to determine what pH your plants prefer is. If you have a too alkaline or too acidic environment, it will hamper the plants from growing properly.
In addition to the physical needs of your plants, make sure to find out the mature size of your plants. This small detail can easily be overlooked, but it will help you in making proper space for each plant when it comes time to plant.
5. Planting Time
Figure out when your area’s last spring frost normally occurs and make sure to plant after that date. If you plant before too early, you risk losing your plants to cold temperatures. Make a plan ahead of time to determine where you want each plant to go. Even a rough plan will make it easier when you start digging. If you don’t already have a few basic gardening tools, and a good pair of gloves on hand, pick those things up.
An easy rule of thumb for measuring how far to dig is 3 times as deep as the diameter of the seed, or roughly the same depth as they were growing in if you are planting from a plant or transplanting.
Once you have your plants in the ground, add 2-3 inches of mulch around each plant to help reduce weeds and reduce the loss of moisture that occurs in evaporation. Make sure to give your plants good water after planting as they are in a new home.
6. Nurture Your Garden
Now that you know about the needs of each plant, make sure to water them accordingly. Take into consideration rainfall and make sure to not overwater or underwater as both are equally as bad.
The general rule is to water an inch or two a week. You can spread it out throughout the week or do it once a week for a deep water session. Overhead sprinklers tend to be less effective as more water is lost in evaporation. If you can invest in drip irrigation or soaker hoses, it’s worth the small investment. There’s also the tried-and-true method of hand watering, but depending on the size of your garden, consider the time that it takes for this method.
In addition to water, make sure to check your plants to see if they need fertilizer. Weak stems, wilted leaves, or poor color are all signs that your plants may need a nutrition boost. If you aren’t sure, testing your soil will determine the exact pH which will help guide you in the right direction.
7. Enjoy Your Hard Work
There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to enjoy what you have worked hard for. Enjoy the beauty of your garden and if you’re growing food, enjoy the unbeatable flavors of home-grown food. Don’t forget to pull the weeds and support your plants well as they grow and lastly, as some avid gardeners would swear by, love your plants by talking to them!