Top Tips for a Starter Garden
By: Sheila Johnson
Special thanks to Sheila Johnson for this post who writes over at https://www.wellsheila.net/
Sheila created Well Sheila as a place to not only share her story, but inspire others to put their physical and mental health first with a regular wellness routine and daily self-care.
Home-grown fruits and vegetables are healthy, easy to access, and mostly free! While planting your own garden requires a bit of time and effort, you’ll be amazed at how much you can produce and how good it tastes!
What Kind of Garden Should You Grow?
The type of garden you plant will depend largely on where you live and what type of space you have available. For example, if you live in an apartment with a balcony, a container garden will be the way to go or consider joining a community garden. Live in an extreme climate? Greenhouse gardening maybe for you. While the approach to gardening varies by location, space access, and season, the process is primarily the same for all when it comes to planting and growing.
If you’re planting a home garden in your yard, you’ll want to choose an area that has good drainage, gets appropriate sun and shade (depending on what you’re growing), and is out of the way of foot traffic. You may want to fence in the garden or put up barriers to keep pets and wildlife away. It’s also wise to check property lines to ensure you aren’t encroaching on your neighbor. If you aren’t quite sure about boundaries, a property surveyor can help. Some gardens will spread – for example, carrots and potatoes will grow straight down with a stalk at the top, while squash and cucumbers will grow wandering vines.
When you’re ready to go, you’ll want to ensure you have the right gardening tools on hand. You’ll need to till the soil for an in-ground garden, which you can do by hand with a shovel, rake and hoe, or by rototiller. Depending on your soil quality, you might need to fertilize or add different minerals or nutrients. Your local gardening center can help you identify the right soil mix for your needs. Laying down a weed barrier before you plant can help reduce the amount of time you’ll need to be on your hands and knees pulling grass that could choke off your plants.
According to Mother Earth Living, there are a couple of different ways you can get your plants into the ground. The first is to start with seeds. This is the least expensive approach, but it takes the plants longer to grow, and there’s a greater likelihood of them getting washed away. You can also start seeds inside in trays, under a grow light, and plant them when they’re big enough to sustain themselves outdoors. Alternatively, there’s the more expensive, but easier route, of buying seedlings that already have a healthy start and are ready to “hit the ground” running.
In some geographic regions, your garden will get all the water it needs naturally, but if you’re in drought-like conditions or your plants are waning or your indoors, you may need to water by hand or set up a drip or soaker hose irrigation system. For example, tomato and pepper plants benefit from being trained to a stake or a wire cone as they mature to ensure they don’t topple under the weight of their bounty. And even with a weed barrier, a little wedding may be necessary as well.
Your garden may be ready to harvest in stages, depending on what you planted, and some items may continue to reproduce all season, while others are one-and-done – for example, tomatoes and berries will continue to produce as you pick, but once you take corn cobs off a stalk, the plan is done. Use as much of the fresh produce as you can and freeze or preserve the excess. If you have more than you can use personally, donate to a food bank or share with neighbors, family, and friends.
Home gardens are healthy, educational, and fun for the whole family. Start planning yours today!
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