Growing your own garden offers incredible benefits for your body and mind. Not only can a garden provide you with a nutritious food source but gardening is also a well-known stress reliever. There are many different types of gardening: vegetable gardening, container gardening, in-ground gardening, raised gardening, etc. Regardless, if you’ve been thinking about starting your own garden but aren’t sure how, then you’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at some gardening basics. Soon you will be on your way to planting and harvesting from a garden that you’ve started yourself.
1. Decide What to Grow
The first step in starting a garden is deciding what you’d like to grow. Think about what you would like to eventually harvest at the end of the growing season. Are you wanting to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, or maybe all of those and more? Knowing what you’d like to plant will help you decide where to start your garden and how you’d like to design it. So first, make a list of what plants you’d like to have in your garden.
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2. Choose a Place for Your Garden
Once you’ve chosen what to grow in your garden you can begin finding that special space for your plants. Location really is everything when it comes to gardening. You’ll want to take into consideration several factors:
- First, make sure your garden is close to a water source.
- Second, choose a place that gets enough sunlight for the types of plants that you’d like to include in your garden.
- Third, choose a relatively flat space with good drainage for your garden.
- And last but not least, choose a place that you will enjoy spending time at.
3. Prepare Your Soil
Now that you know what you want to plant and where you want to plant it, let’s take a look at how to prepare your soil. You will need to clear the soil of weeds, grasses and any other plants that may be growing in the designated garden location. Also, remove rocks or any hard objects that will interfere with growing space.
After you’ve cleared your garden space, it’s time to loosen the soil. This can be done with simple hand tools such as a spade, shovel or rake. You may want to buy or rent a rototiller to free up the soil. A rototiller will take a lot of the physical labor out of preparing the soil.
You may also want to collect and submit a soil analysis. This can easily be accomplished by contacting your local agricultural extension office or by purchasing a do-it-yourself kit. Both options will give you an idea of what nutrients your soil has and may be lacking in.
4. Time to Fertilize
Once you know what nutrients your soil needs, it’s time to choose appropriate fertilizers and nutrients that will improve your soil. Keep in mind that certain plants like certain types of soil, so stay focused on what you want to grow when improving your soil with fertilizers. Some people choose to add organic matter such as manure or composts, while others prefer to buy commercial fertilizers and nutrients.
Here at Sod University, we love to use fertilizers that are earth friendly and efficient. Although nitrogen is an important macronutrient that plants require, it should be applied at the right amount so that it maintains an appropriate carbon-nitrogen ratio. This keeps the soils that plants grow in healthy. Take a look at some of our favorite fertilizers for home lawns and gardens below.
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5. Plant Your Garden
Now for the fun part—let’s get planting! When planting your garden, some plants such as beets and lettuce do very well by placing the seeds directly into your soil. But depending on where you live and how long your growing season is, you may want to start some or all of your plants in a greenhouse or purchase them from a gardening store or greenhouse. This can give you a jump start on the growing season. Whichever routes you take for each type of plant, make sure to follow the planting directions on the seed packets or on the tags of the young plants you purchase.
6. Weed and Water Your Garden
The basics of maintaining your garden are to water it daily and weed as needed. You may want to use a sprinkler system or use a hose with a nozzle attachment to directly water your garden. Watering in the morning or evening when the sun won’t evaporate the water so quickly is the best time to water.
7. Harvesting Your Garden
Now that you’ve put the work into planning for, planting and maintaining your garden, it’s time to harvest the fruits of your labor if you started a fruit or vegetable garden. Each type of plant will have specific days to maturity, so make sure to keep good notes, or keep those seed packets and plant tags close by. One way to remember when you planted is to put the date on each seed packet. But keep in mind that the days to maturity will vary depending on your weather.
Most fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed right after harvest. However, you may want to consider preserving some of your harvests so you can enjoy them year-round. Canning or freezing your produce are two common ways to preserve your goodies.
We hope this guide helps you get started with a successful garden at home. Be sure follow instructions for planting and care that come with the individual plants you purchase.