I manage to get through the end of winter by dreaming and carefully planning my garden. Today I’m going to share with you the process that every gardener needs to go through to get started with a successful garden. Sure you could just throw some seeds in the dirt and hope for the best, (which I have done) but proper planning goes a long way towards success.
Pick Your Seeds
Figure out what your family likes to eat. Get out a notebook and write down all the veggies your family loves eating. If you love squash, then grow some. Don’t forget to take into consideration your budget. Some cost more then others to purchase and some are harder to grow then others. For example, I have tried corn and carrots in the past and I hardly get a crop from them. I find it cheaper to buy those things from the market and use my space to grow things that produce a lot- things like squash, zucchini, beans and peas.
Plot Your Garden
Figure out where you are going to plant while remembering that you will need a large amount of sunlight. Also, try to put it somewhere you can easily get water to the garden. Once you have figured out where you will plant, sit back and think about how you will plant the garden. Raised beds? In the ground? In pots? Raised beds are awesome because you can line the bottom of them with plastic or cardboard and really control the weeds. You can also buy awesome soil to fill your beds with. It will just cost you the wood and the dirt. Planting in the ground is great if you are trying to cut costs. A few things that are more rough with planting in the ground is you need to put more work into tilling the ground, you will need to weed it far more often and you may need to invest time into picking rocks from the tilled dirt. Finally, pots are great if you have little space. You can buy cute ones or use old gallon buckets. This is where you can get creative.
Learn Your Plants
Did you know that with gardening you can plant in the spring and the fall? That’s right. Some plants are really good at growing in the spring, some are really good at growing in the fall and thru the winter. This is awesome because you can grow even more in your garden. As things die out, you add more. A small example are things like lettuce, kale, garlic and Brussels-sprouts can all be part of your fall crop.
Also, every plant grows differently. Some plants expand a lot, some grow straight up with help,(peas, beans) and some are vine plants and spread around a lot(tomato, squash, zucchini). Learn how each of the plants grow. Did you know you can grow some plants vertically for extra space? Ill be sharing more about all of this in a later blog.
Test Your Soil
Cant. stress. this. enough. Funny story, growing up, we never tested our soil. We always just had the best soil to grow with. Well, while i was working for a family after high school and doing their gardening, they asked me to test their soil for them and i thought “these people are extreme gardeners. who does that.” Well, since that happened I have learned so much. I cant tell you how many friends have told me their garden wont grow and the first thing i think of is, “how is the soil”. Testing your soil isn’t hard– Just get a small cup of the dirt and take it to a local tractor store (call first to see if they offer this) They will then test it and tell you what you need to add. You can purchase or add it thru composting certain things.
Buy Your Seeds
This is the fun part. Head out to any garden store and purchase what you need. There are also several online stores you could purchase from.
Sketch Your Layout
While you play the waiting game for the weather to change and the opportunity to plant, sketch out where you will grow what plants. You have done your research, you have your plans of where your garden will go and how much space you will have. Sketching your garden out simplifies the planting process later.
Gardening is so very rewarding. It can be incredibly simple, and it can be incredibly time consuming. If you want to dip your toes in the water of gardening, then I would encourage you to start with one small raised bed and a few of your favorite veggies. I would encourage you not to be intimidated that it may cost you more to start a garden then it would be to just buy the veggies at the market. Honestly, your first year, it may cost you more to start, especially if you are investing in wood and dirt for a raised bed. View your garden as an investment. An investment to save money in the future, to know where your food comes from, and reward from your labor.
A blog post on ‘Starting Your Seeds’ is to follow.