Now that spring is finally here, you may be looking to stretch your legs and get outside. One way to enjoy the great outdoors and get healthier is by planting a garden. If this is your first ever garden, the prospect of getting started can seem daunting. Should you have a vegetable garden or a flower garden? What dirt do you need to buy? Wait, you need to buy dirt?! There are a lot of questions you may come across, made no easier by your friends with naturally green thumbs. Where can you start?
Luckily, there are a few suggestions we can make, just between friends. A first garden is very much a learning experience, so learn from our mistakes. We’ll be focusing on vegetable gardens, since we love food, but these tips could work for a flower or herb garden, too.
Start Smart, Start Small
Before you even plant the first seed, consider the three basic things that plants need to grow — water, nutrients, and sunlight. You can provide two of them. But, only the sun can deliver sunlight. If you place your garden in a shady spot in your yard, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Before you even plant the first seed, consider the three basic things that plants need to grow — water, nutrients, and sunlight. You can provide two of them. But, only the sun can deliver sunlight.
Most gardens need a full six to eight hours of sunlight to thrive. To help with this, look for spots away from the house, since a building will cast shadows throughout the day. Also, you can save yourself some effort by choosing an area that your hose can reach. This way, you don’t need to carry around a heavy watering can. If you really want to start off on the right foot, you can test the soil to make sure it’s hospitable to plants.
Once you find the best location for your garden, you’ll want to be smart about building it. Specifically, start small. You can always make the garden larger later, when you have more experience. A 5’x10’ garden should be more than enough to get your gardening rolling. A smaller garden allows you to focus on a few plants and make sure they’re doing well. Next year, after you have some experience under your belt, you can try something more ambitious.
Choose the Right Veggies
You could give yourself of all these advantages, but if you pick the wrong vegetables, good luck getting anything to grow. Climate and how robust some plants are can make all the difference between a flourishing garden and a plot of dirt in your backyard that was supposed to be a garden. A soil test can give you some direction, but the truth is, some vegetables are easier to grow than others.
Climate and how robust some plants are can make all the difference between a flourishing garden and a plot of dirt in your backyard that was supposed to be a garden.
One of the easiest plants for beginners are beans. Not only are beans quick to grow, they’re extremely healthy superfoods. Other great veggies for beginners are potatoes, radishes, and lettuce. You have plenty of options for veggie starting points, though. You can learn more about what vegetables grow well in your area or which are good for beginners at your local farmers’ market or garden store. Many hobbyists are more than happy to share their knowledge with enthusiastic newbies.
Be Consistent and Patient
As with any new hobby, it’s important that you keep at it, despite any frustrations or failures. To keep your garden growing and healthy, you’ll need to consistently perform upkeep. If you don’t, you can expect your garden to become a weedy, overgrown mess. General maintenance of your garden also helps you spot potential problems. Keeping a consistent eye on your garden helps you head these issues off at the pass.
If you don’t perform regular upkeep, you can expect your garden to become a weedy, overgrown mess.
It’s also important to be patient with your garden and yourself. You may make mistakes, because there’s a lot to learn. If you don’t get it right away, don’t give up. It takes time to learn the basics of gardening. Some people take years to master their backyard “crops.” Beyond being patient with yourself, you need to be patient with the vegetables. The length of time varies depending on the veggie you’re growing, but most can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
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If you’re willing to put in the time and make a little effort, gardening is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have. Just remember these tips and you’ll give yourself the best chance of growing a bounty of fresh veggies.