As of 2017, 1 in 3 American households grew their own food, or at least had a garden to contribute to their food usage on a regular basis. That is AWESOME! But, so many people still shy away from gardening because they’re worried about not having the skills or messing it up somehow. You know what I would say, set those worries aside and start a garden today!
3 Garden Tips for Beginners
No matter what your gardening goals are, they can be achieved, even if you’re an absolute beginner. While you can certainly hire someone to create a beautiful garden and yard for you, including utilizing a synthetic grass installer (have you seen this stuff? It looks so real!), there’s something wonderful about getting your hands dirty and creating a garden for yourself. When you do, you’ll bring your whole yard to life, reduce stress, and have a bounty of nutrient packed food to eat, too! Um, yes please!!!
Before we move on I want to get one thing out of the way. It is ok if you kill a tomato plant or your carrots don't come up, or you forget to water your garden one day. Nobody is a perfect gardener and especially not on day one. Just like every other new thing we start we are probably going to have a few mistakes and THAT'S OK! Just let that go right now. The rewards of a garden, no matter the size, far out way any little bumps that my come up along the way.
Take it one step at a time and don't let your self get bogged down with the overload of info out there. Gardening can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. With that in mind, let’s cover a few garden tips that even beginners can put to good use. I'll touch on a few of the main topics in my book "Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Garden," giving you enough info that you can start a garden today. If you have any further questions along the way get your wonderful self back over here and ask away! I want you to be successful and I will help you any way I can!
Location, Location, Location
Just like determining the perfect spot for a new home, it’s important to pick out the best spot for a garden before you get started. It is important that your garden gets at least 6 hours of full sun a day. Take some time to consider where shadows from trees and building will fall throughout the day.
The next thing you will want to consider about the location is whether or not it has access to water. You can buy a few extra hoses to bring water out to your garden but it will be easier if you already have water there.
When picking your location take note of how the landscape around it falls. Gardeners in places that get a moderate amount of rain don't want their garden to be in a low spot that is going to collect all that rainfall and making a swamp out of their garden. If you live in a drought stricken area on the other hand, a low spot might be better. The low area can be advantageous in helping you keep ever bit of the small amount of water you do get in your garden. It's a matter of working with the environment and landscape that you have.
The last major thing to consider when picking a location is soil quality which leads me to my next point.
2. It Start With the Soil
Soil can be amended and improved, however, you want to start with the best that you can. Heavy clay and/ or rocky soils are soil types to try and avoid. Gardening is about so much more than throwing some seeds in the dirt. The soil you choose will give you the foundation needed for a lush, beautiful, bountiful growing season. Choose soil blends that are rich in nutrients and allow for proper drainage.
If your location has less than desirable soil you can buy some garden soil and compost at your local home and garden center and mix it in with the soil you already have. There are many things you will be able to do to improve your soil but it takes time so buying some organic garden soil is a good way to start off in the mean time.
If you’re planting in raised beds (my favorite!), it’s worth it to look for a soil that is specifically designed for raised bed gardens, as it usually has the ideal weight and texture for growing above ground, so your veggies will thrive.
Maybe you don't have a lot of space in your yard or maybe you don't have yard at all! That's ok! Container gardens can be very successful as well. You can use almost any container as long as it is large enough to allow for healthy root growth of the plant that will be living in it.
We like to recycle as much as possible. This year we are going be cutting some old steel 55 gallon barrels in half to give us two nice sized planter. We have multiple old water troughs throughout our gardens as well as wooden boxes. Another thing we are looking at getting this year are grow bags. These are fabric bags that you simple fill with soil and plant. They come in many different sizes and shapes and are fairly inexpensive. People also use 5 gallon buckets. What ever you use be sure that your containers have drainage holes in the bottom. I will be doing an entire post dedicated to container gardening soon so watch for that.
3. Add Mulch
Several things that new gardeners can feel overwhelmed about is watering and weeding. It doesn't have to be. There is a little trick that helps with both, mulch. Mulch will help to prevent so many weeds from poking through and choking out your plants, competing for water and nutrients It will also help to slow down evaporation, so you won’t lose as much moisture in the soil. That means you won’t have to water as often! A 2-3 inch layer will do the trick.
When planting seed like carrots or lettuce, mulch in-between rows leaving the strip of soil where the seed are planted exposed. Plants like tomatoes and cucumbers can have mulch all the way up to their stems.
Mulch also helps prevent soil borne diseases. Multiple diseases are spread though bacteria in the soil splashing up on to plants when watering. Mulch prevents the wet soil from splashing on to the plants. Furthermore mulch adds organic matter to your soil as it breaks down. Organic matter is a key component to good garden soil.
There are man different things you can use for mulch including straw, grass clippings, and healthy plant clippings. If you don't have access to these you can find packaged mulch at you local home and garden center or farm store.
Mulch is a champion in the garden and you will hear me talk about it again and again. It's just that beneficial!
These are just a few tips to get you started. Use them as you begin your garden this year, and you’ll never be able to say you don’t have a ‘green thumb’ again. In fact, you might just be surprised how beautiful and bountiful your garden becomes with just a little bit of extra care and attention. And I have this little hunch that you are going to really enjoy it too!
Hello, I'm Jaci. I look forward to sharing my gardening and homestead adventures to help you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!