Gardening 101: How to Start a Simple Garden This Year
My husband and I bought our first home recently, and so we are so excited to be planting our very first real garden with our family! Because of this, I’ve been doing research to help us plan ours, so if you are in the same position, or are looking for info on how to start, this is for you!
Planning Your Gardens
The first step in getting ready to have a garden is to be able to grow food for your family is to start making some choices. Just like our food storage, we want to plant the things our family will eat. If your family doesn’t care for onions, you probably don’t need to plant them.
Then we also need to consider what space and time we have available for our gardens. Places that are warmer tend to have a much longer growing period than those who live in a cooler climate. We should also consider how much space we have. This will also help you decide which plants will be the most beneficial to plant.
After you select which plants you want to grow, research which plants make good pairs! Planting certain plants together can help keep bugs away, and promote a better harvest. For example, putting marigolds between your tomato plants can help keep the bugs off. And planting onions near your broccoli can improve the flavor of the broccoli. Knowing which plants to pair together can help you make the most of your plants and your space.
Small Space Gardening
Over the past couple of years, we have lived in a townhouse where we didn’t have space to grow a garden, but we still wanted to follow the counsel to grow a garden, and be able to produce some of our food. Many people who live in townhomes, in cities, or have small yards may not have the space to grow a full garden.
We chose to use pots and garden boxes. These were great for growing herbs, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables that don’t need super deep roots. Pinterest has lots of plans to build your own, or places like Walmart, Home Depot, or Amazon have pre-made or kits to make the process easier.
Another option is vertical gardens. Vertical gardens can be grown in potting boxes that have different levels, through creating garden walls or trellises, or containers that will allow the plants more space through height, such as slotted laundry baskets.
Raised Gardens vs. Traditional
A trend I’ve noticed all over Pinterest is raised garden beds. They are usually beautifully cultivated, and the boxes are always aesthetically pleasing, but I wondered, what were the actual benefits of a raised garden, over the more traditional ground garden?
According to New Hampshire University, a raised garden bed can be beneficial in areas where soil may not be very rich in nutrients, or where the ground stays frozen for a long time. With a raised garden bed, you can create compost layers, such as leaves, mulch, and branches that will break down and enrich the soil. If you live somewhere it is generally cold in the spring, or takes a while to thaw, the raised gardens will thaw faster, and allow for a longer growing season.
Traditional ground garden beds also have benefits to weigh out. They are less expensive, especially at the onset, because you can use the existing soil rather than buying soil and mulch to fill the box. They are easier to irrigate, and take less water because they are ground level making it easier to incorporate your sprinklers or water without having to create a new system. They also can be more versatile in size and shape to fit your yard’s needs. A ground garden also is easier to alter, meaning you could expand or shrink it from year to year.
Seeds vs. Starters
As we are planning our gardens, another thing to think about is whether we want to use seeds or plant starts. Seeds offer us more options and variety. They are often less expensive than their seedling counterparts. Certain plants, such as herbs, struggle with being transplanted, so starting with seeds on some plants will yield better results. Seedlings offer convenience not having to track seeding times. Seedlings are easier to plant and space, and are usually more hearty since they are already established plants. Many gardeners use a combination of the two options planting things like peas and corn from seeds and using seedlings for plants like tomatoes.
Using Your Produce
The last thing we want to ponder as we plan our garden is how we are going to use our produce! Are we just going to eat the fresh produce? Are we planning on canning or preserving some of it for later use? Could we start a vegetable stand for a little disposable income? If we have a plan for how we plan to use our produce, we can choose how much to plant!
We hope this helps you plan your garden adventure this summer! Check back in a couple of weeks for garden hacks and tips!