How to start your garden

Gardening is a great past-time as well as a great way to grow your favorite veggies, fruits and so much more!

The more you garden, the more you will learn about what works best for your garden. However, here are some great tips that might be just the answer you’re looking for!


What to grow?


This is where it can get tricky for some. Knowing what you want to grow is important when planning your garden as each plant has different specifications and can make or break your garden.

The best way to choose what to grow in your garden, is knowing what you or your family will eat if you do grow it.

After choosing what to grow in your garden, it's important to ensure those plants will thrive in your location. You can do this by referencing your Hardiness zone, and comparing that with the specifications of your plant of choice.


Check out the Farmers Almanac for their list of herbs, veggies and so much more!


This leads us into the biggest part of the gardening; Location!





Location, Location, Location!


When starting your garden, there are many different pieces to this puzzle.

The main piece is sunlight. Most plants, like fruits, vegetables and herbs need at least six hours of sunlight in order to survive. Pay attention to how sunlight plays on your property, this will ensure you have a great placement of your garden.


Try out this website to see your sun calculations!


Once you have that figured out, now we can move onto planning the layout of your garden. Starting out your garden map, you will want to measure and draw out your garden on a scale of 1:1. Meaning 1’ of your garden is the size of 1” on your map. Be sure to include any obstacles (décor, pots, irrigation, etc.) so you know what your space looks like. Once you have it drawn up, you can start to plan out what you want to plant and where to put it! Remember to think about how big the crop will be when growing. Reference the Farmers Almanac Growing guide to see how big of a plot each plant will be in your garden.


If you’d like to maximize your garden efficiency, check out companion planting and how it can benefit your garden!


All in the soil


Good soil is the key to a great garden! Plants depend on the soil for their nutrients, stability and its drainage. Starting with a well-drained soil will be the best start for your garden. Adding organic material/compost will be any gardens saving grace. This will not increase the soils drainage and its water retention, but also it gives the plant its nutrients.

If soil is the key to a successful garden, compost is the secret weapon for any Gardner to make any garden that much better!


Frost Dates


Frost dates are an average time of the last frost in spring and the first frost in the fall. There is different classification of freezing temperatures and what their effect is on plants.


Light Freeze

29° to 32°F (-1.7° to 0°C)

Tender plants are killed

Moderate Freeze

25° to 28°F (-3.9° to -2.2°C)

Destruction to most vegetation

Severe Freeze

24°F (-4.4°C) and colder

Heavy damage to most plants

If you are unsure of the frost dates in your specific region, try this frost calculator to help you!


Maintenance


Now that you have the important parts nailed down for your garden, here are some final thoughts and tips to make you an expert Gardner. These lists are divided into daily, weekly and monthly to help you keep on track and keep your garden beautiful and bountiful!


Daily:


Check water needs

  • During the summer months, a garden can quickly dry out. It is important to maintain watering to avoid any disasters (this is especially important for container gardens)

Weed watch

  • A motto to live by for gardening; if you see a weed, pull it! Weeds can quickly overwhelm your garden and make life just that much harder.

Pest Patrol

  • Certain pests can be the end of your crop in just hours. Doing this everyday will be what helps put an end to any pests or disease issues that can arise.

Feed

  • Not only a great way to empty your compost, but a useful one. This will help with any fruit fly problems in the house, and will keep your plants happy.

Harvest

  • Harvesting is the main point of having a garden, but when you’re crops produce quickly, harvesting regularly will help with maintaining the garden but also can help with production of crops.


Weekly:


Weed watch

  • Repetition will only benefit you when it comes to pesky weeds. A main goal to strive for is a weed-free garden, it isn’t easy but keeping a schedule definitely helps!

Feed

  • Weekly fertilization schedule is a good routine to develop.

Prune/trim

  • A little hair cut here and there is great for your plants, especially herbs. Keeping up with pruning and trimming will make for a stronger and more productive plant.

Plant more succession plants

  • Certain crops that are planted in succession (planting the crop every few weeks to have consistent harvest) get yourself into a habit of doing so. Plants like spinach or cilantro are types of these succession plants.

Remove spent plants

  • Now is a good time to remove plants that are no longer producing to clear up your garden and to prevent disease and pests.


Monthly:

Soil Amendments

  • If you want to improve your gardens soil, now is a great time to do so. Monthly is a more common schedule to add any soil amendments to your garden

Mulch replenishment

  • If you use mulch as a way of weed prevention, once a month is a good routine to top off your mulch that might’ve blown away or degraded over the growing season.

Weed Prevention

  • If you are using natural weed preventers/natural herbicides, reapplying them every month is another good routine to help with weed prevention.


End of season:


Remove plant debris

  • This helps prevent insect and disease issues. This makes for great compost, however if they are diseased or have pests, its best to dispose of plant debris.

Cover crops

  • The end of the season is the best time to condition your soil.

Soil test

  • During the fall as the soil dries, you have plenty of time to make adjustments to the soil to make your next gardening season even better. Do some soil testing to be able to accurately make any adjustments.

Amend soil adjust pH

  • Once you have your results, you can work on those adjustments of any deficiencies or pH issues.

Mulch

  • Using mulch on your garden beds is almost like putting your plants to bed. This will reduce erosion and keep the structure of the soil intact.

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