- Decide on plants
- Choose location
- Prepare Garden
- Find good seeds and transplants
- Garden Tending
To anyone interested in growing their food this is the best place to start. Use our article as a guide or resource for additional tips and education on starting a garden. Our goal overall is to provide an in-depth quick start to your project, to launch you into action with confidence and enjoyment.
Starting a garden is the best way to ensure you get the highest quality vegetables. Take additional control of what goes into your body, and discover a new, relaxing hobby at the same time!
Plants To Grow
First things first, What will you grow? That’s easy, well what do you eat?! Start with family favorites. You are, after all, feeding your home. Now, you want your first harvest to go as well as possible to stay motivated. Find out what fruits, veggies, and herbs everyone likes the most, and check to see if they make sense for your area. Try looking up your gardening zone online. I recommend googling hardiness zones and microclimates.
Days to Maturity is a good indicator to look at. Plants may need higher temperatures to fully develop and your area may not provide enough hot days. Other choices may prefer cooler climates or lower humidity for example.
The main focus when choosing location prioritizes as follows. Sunlight, danger zones, and finally visibility. You -cannot leave out appropriate sunlight.
Most Fruits and Veggies will require no less than 5 hours of direct sunlight. Herbs and Root Veggies can grow in partial shade. Structures such as your house or trees can provide later afternoon shade that may be beneficial in hotter climates. Full sun plants should avoid trees in proximity for two reasons: Roots will steal nutrients and water and foliage will steal the sun.
Danger zones are places making your garden accessible to harsh weather or animals. For harsh weather it’s simple. Beware of high wind areas and frost pockets. Frost pockets are just low areas where frost is more prone to settle into your plants. Animals can be kept away with fencing if your yard is too accessible or have animals of your own. People or children count as animals. High foot traffic or social areas will only increase the chances of disturbance or eating. Fencing is available at any hardware store along with stakes. Bird Fencing is a great alternative as it is cheap and very effective.
Visibility is very important for beginners considering that tending to the garden is paramount. While I recommend keeping away from high foot traffic areas, your garden must be in a conspicuous place. Your Garden catching your eye will serve as a reminder to consistently visit and treat your garden. Out of sight, out of mind.
You probably didn’t think the actual planting would be so far down the list, but almost there I promise. First, we will discuss garden beds and then soil.
Garden beds are mainly how you group and separate all your choices. Here you can organize your plant selections and further specify sun consumption by location. You must begin with size and shape to organize and appropriately place your plants. Beds should be 3-4 feet across and no longer than 10 feet. The idea here is to make the center of your beds accessible without having to step on them and disturbing the plants. Beds also allow you to identify walkways, this is important for compost and fertilizer conservation. You only apply directly onto plant areas and don’t waste resources.
Good soil can be bought at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Great soil is made over time. Starting with sod and cutting it up into chunks is a good method as well. Whatever you can get to start, make sure to till it into the existing soil. A broad fork or digging fork work great. A lot of your plant matter will vitalize your soil year after year, but starting a compost pile will provide so much more nutrition or adding fertilizer periodically. Adding 1-2 bags of store-bought soil and tilling it is plenty. A good place to start is trying KELLOG raised bed & potting soil mix. If your serious about the quality of your soil, add compost, azymite, and some organic fertilizer.
Find Good Seeds & Transplants
To get the best results in your garden you must be selective with your seeds. Heirloom seeds or heritage seeds are handed down over time. This handing down provides reliable results and predictable features in your plants. Some good sources for quality seeds are Migardener, True Leaf Market, and Pinetree Garden Seeds. Sowing seeds directly into the soil is easiest but some seeds require being grown indoors before transplanting. This will be easy to determine but specific to what you are planting. I’m recommending a little of your research but it’s easy I promise.
Transplants can also be bought at Home Depot or other gardening centers. Just be sure to check for weaker plants. Yellowing of the leaves or fungal infections are common so don’t go grabbing just anything. Your selections may be divided into two categories, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate means it will fruit less often, Just go with indeterminate, you’ll harvest more often. Additionally, ask if your selection has been sprayed with any harmful pesticides. The last tip is the size of the pot or container. Beware seedlings that appear much larger than the container. These plants have roots that are compacted and tangled, resulting in transplant shock when planted.
This is the part everyone visualizes when considering starting a garden. Nothing says down to earth like a landscape full of seedlings. For beginners, your gonna want each plant 2.5 feet apart to leave room for the roots of fully matured plants. You are measuring the size of a matured plant. Transplants generally should be planted as deep as the pot they come in. Younger plants may need protection or hardening, as they are much more delicate. Providing a cover for seedlings or younger plants can be done with glass or plastic. Hardening is the process of exposing a plant to increasingly outdoor or less protective conditions.
Sowing seeds directly into a garden is the most affordable although many seeds require you to grow them indoors first and that will require some space. Depth of seeding ranges from 1/4 to a full inch depending on the size of the seed. You can drag a rod across the garden bed in the pattern you wish to seed exposing space to sprinkle several seeds. Horizontal works best for additional separation if you have several plant types. You want to keep the seed dropping thinner with only a few seeds per sq cm. Cover to the desired depth and pack dirt gently.
Once everything is in the ground, you must soak the soil and check that it has moistened down an inch into the ground. Using one finger you can pull back the dirt and check. I recommend you water the entire bed several times to soak properly. Daily soaking is recommended early on especially if the climate is hotter. Check the soil daily for moisture to get a feel for how long water will last in your beds. Once roots have been established and plants are more mature, you can water less and heavier with the attempt in challenging the roots to seek out more water and reach farther. Overwatering is as damaging as under-watering, so pay close attention to the soil and water less often if the climate isn’t so hot. If 90 deg plus is common then every day is ok.
Watering in the evenings and leaving beds wet all night can cause fungal issues.
We’ve already briefly discussed Watering but let’s continue a bit. In the growing season about an inch of water, a week is necessary. Now a hose, watering jugs, or drip systems are all fine, but I suggest a fan sprinkler. They are gentle on the plants are the easiest to install. Buy quality here and you’ll be set for a long time, do not cheap out here. A few days after initial plant and soak return to weed and continue to do so weekly. A weeder or garden hoe will make things easier but there is nothing wrong with pulling by hand.