For the past few years, my thumb has gotten greener and greener. It has taken those years to educate myself on how to produce the results I want. I have also experienced A LOT of trial and error. As a beginner gardener, it is normal to feel a little nervous about starting any kind of garden. There is a science to it, so planning and preparation are key. You will have to keep in mind that going through the trial and error are also necessary. You will kill things! That is unfortunately how you will learn how to be a gardener. Hang in there though, no matter what happens! There are just too many reasons not to. To name a few…
- gardening is fun
- it gets you out in the fresh air
- you get to take part in the cycle of life
- it gets you active
- it gets your mind off all the junk in life
- the product is good for your health
- it is cheaper and safer to grow your own produce
- people will envy you for being successful at it-let’s be honest, some people really do kill everything they touch
The first steps to planting your garden involve the planning. In order to achieve success, you have to plan it out! Start by making a list of your favorite kinds of flowers or vegetables (depending on what type of garden you would like to have). It has been my experience that growing flowers is easier than growing vegetables. This is obviously because food for me is also going to be food for other living things, so there is much more attention that needs to be given to a vegetable garden. That’s not to say that you won’t get some visitors to your flower garden!
Once you have your list, assess where you will put your garden. Take special notice of how much space you have available and the amount of light the area receives throughout the day. This is very important, because you will find some plants like only morning sun while others prefer afternoon sun. Other plants want sun all day long. Take notice of overhanging trees that may also shade the area at different times of the day.
Vegetables. Yummy, nutrient-rich, colorful vegetables! Maybe you would like to have a fresh garden salad throughout the summer months. There are many varieties of lettuce, so think about your favorites. Maybe you would like to add some herbs to your salad or make a dressing from them. Herbs are a great addition to the garden and can aid in keeping pests away. Many plants, including some vegetables and herbs can thrive in pots. If ground space is an issue, that may be another alternative to consider.
I recently found some great plans available online for several different garden types. I have also found some great books from my local library that are specific to the area I live in. You can find my list here. The online plans can be found at Better Homes and Gardens. You will have to sign up to become a member of the site, but it is free and full of benefits. Once logged in, you can download several different plans based on your needs (All-American Vegetable Garden, Summer Garden, Fall Garden, etc.). These plans will offer some insight on which plants grow best together and how to arrange them in your space. If you are starting from seed, read the seed packet for specific spacing directions. Many seeds can be started indoors and then transplanted into the garden. This is how I prefer to garden-starting from scratch. This does require more time, patience, and tending to. As you become a more experienced gardener, you will come to find that you will plan for next year’s garden well in advance. It is wise to gather seed catalogs from your favorite producers to assist you in your planning. You can also view online catalogs and purchase seeds straight from the source. One company that is well-recognized for its organic seeds is Park Seed. They also sell a variety of plants ready to be placed directly in the garden or your favorite pot. These are perfect for the beginner gardener. Another great place to buy online and gather information is at Burpee. You can also check your local nurseries or stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer some healthy plants at a reasonable cost.
The next step is to determine when to plant your garden. Depending on which zone you live in, the time to plant your garden will vary. Again, follow the directions on the seed packet so that you are planting according to your zone. Why is the zone important? Because someone who lives in Arizona will need to plant differently than someone living in Massachusetts. Good luck and let me know how your garden goes!
You can view the plans for my garden and check out my pics here.