Part of the appeal of being a homeowner is the outdoor living space you can now enjoy. What better way to take advantage of such space than by starting your very own vegetable garden? Check out the tips below to help get you started!
LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
The first step in planning a successful garden is knowing where to put it. Try observing your yard for areas with long periods of sunlight. Most of the easiest to grow vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans will perform the best with at least 6 hours of full sun. Some vegetables that grow best in partial sunlight (less than 6 hours) include carrots, onions and peas.
Plan out a manageable garden size
If it’s your first time planning a garden, it’s probably not the best idea to start with a 60-acre beet farm. To maximize your gardening success, start small and expand as you become more experienced. A good garden size for the novice gardener could be anywhere from 8ft x 8ft to 12ft x 12ft. The key is to determine how large an area you are willing to tend to. If the garden is unmanageable from the get-go you are much more likely to abandon your efforts.
Start simple with easy-to-grow vegetables.
Like we mentioned before, cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans are probably the easiest vegetables to grow for a gardening beginner. Peppers and lettuce are also good choices. Ultimately, try to find a combination of vegetables that are both easy to grow and ones you enjoy. What’s the point in putting in all this hard work if you can’t even reap the rewards of your efforts?
Purchase basic gardening tools and equipment
Now that we know what we are planting and where we want to plant it, we now need the tools necessary to get the job done! Some basic gardening tools and equipment you should invest in:
- Stakes and twine or wire mesh fencing: to plan out the perimeter of your garden as well as keep out small animals
- Gardening gloves: to protect yourself from small nicks and cuts as well as keep your hands relatively clean
- Large shovel: to dig out your initial garden, turn over the soil and remove large rocks and patches of grass
- Small shovel and hand fork: to dig out the small rows where you will plant your seeds or small plants, as well as remove pesky weeds
- Watering can: you won’t grow anything during those scorching summer afternoons without plenty of water
- Wheelbarrow: make your life easier and purchase a wheelbarrow to carry anything you may need to and from your garden
Dig out your garden and turn over the soil
Now the real work begins. Measure your desired garden size and mark the outline with stakes and twine. Be sure to remove as much grass from the area as you can, as well as large rocks. A large shovel will work fine for this process, but you could also rent a rototiller to make your life easier. If you have never grown anything in the area before, invest in some mulch and topsoil to mix with your existing soil. The mixture will help your vegetables thrive!
Follow the instructions
The 2 easiest ways to plant your vegetables are by using seed packets or purchasing small, sprouted plants from a gardening center. Beginners may want to skip the seeds and go straight for the sprouts. Either way, read the instructions detailing how to space the crops, as well as how much sunlight and water they require. Planting too many crops in a small area or over/under watering will leave you with a patch of dirt and a whole lot of wasted time.
Be sure to weed your garden when necessary
Nothing will kill your garden faster than pesky weeds. Weeds strip soil of nutrients and strangle crops, so be sure to pull them out by their roots to keep them from coming back. For particularly stubborn weeds, dig them out with a small shovel or gardening fork. Try to weed your garden at least once a week to keep your crops growing strong.
If you are serious about gardening and plan to keep it up long-term, keep records such as:
- The location of your crops in the garden
- How often you watered/weeded
- How much sunlight each crop received
- How each crop performed overall
Come the next growing season, you’ll feel more confident in your gardening abilities and know what worked or didn’t for each crop. If a crop underperformed, try moving it to a different location next time around. Sure, there are gardening best practices, but just like anything, each individual situation is unique. Don’t get discouraged and treat any missteps as a learning experience. As the old saying goes—practice makes perfect!