How to Start a Garden 101

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Gardening was once a part of everyday life for most people. Not that long ago, neighbors were trading fresh produce over the fence (too many zucchini again!). And most people knew local farmers. Many of us have fond memories of grandma opening cans of her homemade pickles and jams.

If you’re thinking of starting a garden using your own little soil, here’s how to get started.

Although times have changed (Walmart, anyone?), we still have the ability to grow our own food for at least part of the year in nearly every region of the world. But statistically, many of us don’t (especially in the US).

Protecting local food sources is important, and working in your garden is good for your body and mind. This year, consider putting that green thumb to the test by doing something great for the planet and your family. Instead of paying high prices for organic produce at the store, try organic gardening in your own backyard.

It’s time to take back gardening!

During the war, families were encouraged to grow “victory gardens” to prevent food shortages. At one time, there were more than 20 million of these gardens in the United States. As the war subsided and people moved away from farming and into more urban areas, home gardens began to decline.

No matter where you live, you can have your own garden. If this is your first time gardening, start small using what you have on hand. Your new garden can be as simple as a container garden in your backyard or an herb garden on your kitchen windowsill. If you have space for an in-ground flower bed, you can easily produce enough food to feed your family.

The good news is that gardening has really become popular in recent years. make a comeback!

How to start a home garden for beginners

The idea of ​​starting a garden for the first time can be overwhelming. There are so many plants and seeds available for purchase, and so many different gardening styles, not to mention ways to keep them all alive.

If having access to fresh food with maximum nutrients is a priority, even a small garden or indoor herb box can be a step in the right direction. Food from your garden doesn’t need to be canned. Many of them can be stored in the freezer (or eaten fresh!).

What are my favorite gardening benefits?kids connect with a healthy diet In a whole new magical way by knowing where their food comes from. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start an organic garden in your own backyard.

1. Choose a space

I know many people who are lucky enough to have large backyards with plenty of space for gardening. However, many of us live in cities or small suburbs with limited space to get enough sunlight. Figure out how much space you can devote to your garden and plan accordingly.

Check your garden or balcony area several times a day to see how many hours of direct sunlight it receives. This will help you choose the best garden location. Ideally, it should also be close enough to a water source (like a spigot or hose). Carrying a watering can around for an hour every day is tiring.

Consider using raised floors to maximize space and productivity. Or, if you have some containers on your patio, make sure they get high-quality soil, organic fertilizer, and plenty of sun and water (with good drainage).

2. Decide what to grow

What you grow depends on your space. Then there is a selection of annuals (like eggplants and tomatoes) and perennials (like echinacea and rosemary).

Deciding what to plant can be difficult, especially the first year. When I first started gardening, I often had so many tomatoes that I wished I had more cucumbers.If you want to go all out, this is how much grow per person To feed my family for a year.

My current strategy is to organically grow the foods that (a) we eat the most and (b) are the most expensive to buy. For us, this means lots of spinach, strawberries, winter squash, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and peppers.

To figure out how much to grow each plant and when to plant, check out: They offer a free 30-day trial of his garden planning guide where you can see how much of each variety to plant.

Here’s a photo of what my spring garden looked like one year using this garden plan.

organic gardening plan

It also provides a great chart of planting dates for your climate.

organic garden planting chart

Tips for beginners: Don’t be overwhelmed by gardening books, diagrams, and plans for growing vegetables. This is what I tried after several years of gardening experience. The important thing is to start gaining practical experience. Select a few packets of seeds and follow the instructions on the back. Try something new every year and create the garden of your dreams.

The best seed choices for beginners are:

  • Snap peas (kids love them too!)
  • tomato
  • pepper
  • Marigolds (The garden needs flowers – this variety It is also edible)
  • zucchini
  • radish

Want to keep it super simple? order gardening kit for beginners Comes with all instructions and planning tools. Decision complete!

3. Start seeds indoors

Starting seeds indoors gives you a head start in your garden and extends the growing season. Starting plants like tomatoes and peppers indoors is almost necessary to have a good growing season.

Starter plants can be purchased at your local garden center, but growing your own from seeds is a fun learning experience. It’s also cheaper and easier to find a variety of heirloom and organic plants.

You can also check when the last frost date was in your growing area to determine when to plant your seeds. See this post for more information on how to do that. For a fall garden, sow seeds directly outdoors or start seeds indoors during the summer.

Tips for beginners: As mentioned above, there are kits available for novice gardeners to make the job less stressful. Try our easy seed starting kits with step-by-step instructions specific to each plant.

If you want to choose from a wide variety, this is recommended. true leaf seeds For non-GMO and organic selections. heirloom seeds It is a variety that has stood the test of time and been preserved for generations.

4. Prepare the garden

Once you have your garden space, you will need to have suitable garden soil to work with. If not, you can add amendments such as organic matter or mix it into a layer of compost.

Many county extension offices offer soil testing at a low cost. Testing your soil will help you determine exactly what you need to add to your soil for your plants to grow successfully. These tests typically cost about $20 and provide valuable information for your garden year-round.

temporary lift bed

We have been cultivating several truckloads of organic compost over the past few years. The initial cost was a little high, but it paid off in the long run. Our soil is naturally very acidic, dense clay, and poorly drained. When I added compost, it turned into beautiful black soil, and I grew lots of vegetables!

Tips for beginners: Want to keep it simple? Let’s DIY a planter box! We previously showed you how to make a simple cedar planter box, which is one of the easiest ways to grow a small backyard garden. This planter is only 3 feet long and will fit on almost any patio or porch. We grew kale, herbs, and some microgreens.

5. Make the most of your space

With several organic gardening methods, you can easily maximize your growing space and prevent pests. Practices like companion planting, succession planting, and square foot gardening can help ensure maximum production from a small space.

companion planting

Companion planting allows you to grow multiple plants that help each other in the same area. A classic example is the Indian custom of planting corn, beans, and pumpkins together. The corn provides structure for the beans and squash, and the beans return nitrogen to the soil to feed the corn and squash.

Another example is planting basil under tomatoes. Not only are these two delicious together, but they also help deter each other’s pests and improve each other’s growing quality. Tall plants can also provide respite for shade-loving plants.

My favorite plants to grow together are:

  • Basil and tomatoes to promote growth and keep pests away
  • Plant marigolds throughout your garden to deter pests and reduce nematodes
  • dill with cucumber
  • Mix cruciferous (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) with Actinidia, mint, and chamomile to prevent pests.
  • Lay beets under the cabbage to maximize space
  • Cucumbers and giant sunflowers – sunflowers act as a trellis

If you would like to learn more about companion plants, check out this post.

Continuous planting

Planting different crops in succession will help you get more yield from your garden and extend the harvest season. Currently, my garden has young cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, chard, spinach, and lettuce. Once they are harvested, the same bed will become space for melons and winter squash.

Depending on your region, you can also grow certain plants throughout the fall and winter. Once you’ve finished harvesting your summer garden, try planting cool-weather root vegetables, vegetables, and lettuce.

vertical gardening

You can reduce the space needed by growing some plants larger rather than spreading them out. This also increases yields by increasing airflow and reducing disease exposure. Trellises and cages are ideal for growing tomatoes, cucumbers, vine squash, and more. See this post for how we’ve been using vertical elements in our gardens over the years.

Tips for beginners: If these options seem daunting, stick to planting in rows according to the instructions on the seed package. If you’re planting tomatoes or cucumbers (which always need vertical support), ask your local garden center to tell you which commercially available trellis is best for the job.

6. Feed (and weed) the garden

Once you’ve planted your plants in your garden, feed them and weed them. If you’ve tested your soil and prepared it with compost, you won’t need this step, at least not for a while, but I like to use this homemade compost tea to give my garden a boost. It’s a great alternative to expensive natural fertilizers and is easy to make when you need it.

Organic gardening requires a fair amount of weeding because you’re not using chemical herbicides around your food (shudder). Thankfully, there are ways to simplify the process. Weeds won’t grow in the absence of light, so cover garden paths with newspaper, cardboard, or organic mulch to suppress weeds before they emerge.or use natural paper weed barrier Just plow into the soil when the season is over. It actually works!

Tips for beginners: The rest of the work is done with a simple garden hoe, which should be used between plants every few days. my youngest children are gardening tools They are just their size and love helping with this task.

7. Be prepared for natural pest control

Do you think weeds are the biggest problem in your garden? No. No gardening article would be complete without mentioning the importance of pest control. It’s frustrating to spend hours tending to your garden only to have your plants destroyed by bugs, caterpillars, and even small (and large) animals.

Although many conventional pesticides are prohibited in organic gardening, there are still many great ways to prevent pests. Check out this post for a variety of natural pest control options.

Tips for beginners: Learn to “scoach” your garden. Gardeners know that constant observation is the key to success. Step out into the garden while drinking your morning coffee and observe what’s happening. This will prevent pest damage while it is still small.

8. Enjoy your organic garden!

There will always be some failures in your first year (or even 10!) of organic gardening, but that’s just part of the package. What you plant will grow in abundance, and there’s nothing better than harvesting fresh produce from your own backyard garden. The taste is completely different from the ones you buy in the store (cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine and warm in the sun…ah). Plus, your kids will be excited about the produce in their garden.

Hint: A hearty Italian sausage soup made with fresh zucchini and summer vegetables.

Knowing where your food comes from (and what hasn’t been sprayed) is ultimately very satisfying and worth the investment of time and effort. Plus, you get to spend that elusive time outdoors in the sunshine and dirt. Your body will thank you!

Will you be gardening this year? What are you planting? Let us know below!

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