Starting a garden is a beautiful thing to do. You can begin with a floral garden to beautify your home or even a vegetable garden, which everyone can benefit from it. If you have never done this before, it might be a little tricky to know how and where to start. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be all that complicated when you carry out the procedures carefully. The steps below will help you get started from scratch and give you a breathtaking design, and soon, you will see the outcome of your efforts with colorful blooms, amazing views, and delicious flavors.
10 easy steps to start a garden from scratch
- Think carefully about what to plant
It would help if you chose what you want to grow in your garden carefully. Do you want it to be a flower garden? A vegetable garden? Or a herb garden? If your choice is a flower garden for its beautiful fragrance, color, and flair, then you need to decide whether you want annuals that bloom most of the summer but need to be replanted each spring or you want perennials that have a shorter bloom time but return year after year. And if your choice is a vegetable garden or a herb garden for contributions to your dinner table, then you need to plant the ones that your family will love to try. Whichever one you choose, or even if you decide to choose both, it will most definitely make a stunning garden. Just know that they will have different maintenance requirements.
Note: I advise that you begin small until you are sure you want to do this.
- Choose the right spot
Choosing the right place for your garden is very important. Most flowers and vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun every day. Therefore, you must observe your place very well to pick the best spot that receives sun plus shade. If your home is mostly shady, you might be unable to grow some vegetables like tomatoes. This step is crucial because, for your plants to thrive, they need sunlight.
i. You are to pick a flat spot for your garden. This is so because it is challenging, expensive, and time-consuming to deal with a slopy garden.
ii. Check for windbreaks that will keep plants from being harmed by strong winds.
iii. Position your garden where you can focus on it and give it more attention. I advise you to position it outside your back door, by the window where you can easily gaze through or near the mailbox. You can also set it close to a water spigot so that you won’t have to worry about dragging a hose across the yard.
- Clear the Ground
It would help if you cleared the ground to get rid of grasses covering the area you intend to start your garden.
- Improve the Soil
You need to carry out this step. Vegetables tend to grow healthier and fresher when the soil is fertile. Therefore, you need to boost your soil as it could be either low, wet, acidic, alkaline, or infertile. Add some organic matter to the soil to improve it. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost, dry grass clippings, old manure, or decayed leaves to the ground when you dig or till a new bed. Should you decide not to till (perhaps because you are working with an established bed), leave the organic matter on the surface to eventually rot into organic material. If you wish to have more knowledge about your soil, you can have it tested. Having your soil tested will make you aware of your soil needs, what it lacks, and how to amend it.
- Work the Soil
This step is essential. This step’s primary purpose is to allow roots to penetrate the soil more easily to access nutrients and water. There are two methods of working on the soil; they are i. Tilling ii. Digging.
i. Tilling: Tilling is the act of cultivating the soil with the use of a mechanical device. This method is best when you want to make a lot of amendments. The only disadvantage of this method is that it can disturb earthworms and other microorganisms. Also, excessive tilling of the soil, especially when it is too wet or too dry, may cause undue damage to the soil structure and plant roots. It is better to do little than too much.
ii. Digging: Digging is carried out when preparing small beds. The only time you are allowed to dig is when the soil is moist enough to form a ball in your fist and dry sufficiently at the same time to fall apart when you drop it. With a spading fork or a sharp spade, carefully turn the top to 8-12 inches of soil and mix the organic matter as explained in the fourth step.
Note: Walking on prepared beds compacts the soil, laying down boards temporarily to distribute your weight evenly.
- Choose Your Plants
People decide on what to plant for different reasons. Some people choose what they want to plant-based on the advice they’ve probably seen on the internet, while some people decide what to grow based on what catches their attention at the garden center. Both methods are perfect as long as your choice of plants can adapt to your soil, climate, and even sunlight. Below are some easy to grow plants for beginners:
i. Vegetables: Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, okra, and peppers.
ii. Annuals: Sunflowers, calendula, marigold, zinnias, cosmos, geraniums, and inpatients.
iii. Perennials: Black-eyed Susans, pansies, Russian sage, daylilies, lamb’s ears, phlox, and purple coneflowers
- Start Planting
Plants like kale and pansies can adapt to the cold. Therefore you can plant them in autumn or late winter. Vegetables like tomatoes, on the other hand, can only adapt to warm temperatures. Consequently, they cannot be planted until the danger of getting frozen up has passed in your area. You can plant your perennials during mid-spring and mid-autumn.
Most plants, most especially produce like sunflowers, and lettuce can grow from seed directly in the garden. I advise that you carefully read the seed packet for more information about planting time, spacing, and depth. If you are an adventurous beginner, you must get a head start on the growing season by sowing seeds indoors for a few weeks before the last frost date. Garden centers have provided containers or flats designed for seedlings and seed starting soil mixes. Follow the instructions as written in the packet and place the boxes on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights (if you do not have window space). Make sure you keep the seeds and seedlings moist but not wet. Otherwise, they might get spoilt.
The best method of starting your garden is to buy young plants (also known as set plants or transplants). Dig the holes on your already prepared bed as written in the instructions. Carefully remove the plants from the container. Please do this by pushing it up from the bottom. If you see that the plant roots have grown into a big ball, use your fingers or a fork to untangle some of the outer roots before you set it into the hole. Put some soil around the roots, and then wet it with water.
- Water at the Right Time
Your seedlings should never run out of water, most especially as the plants get larger. Your transplants also need watering from time to time until their roots become well established. After the roots become strong enough, how often you need to water the plants depends on your rainfall, soil, and humidity, though I advise you to start once a week. Unlike clay soil, which dries out slowly when watered, sandy soil needs water more often. Both sunny and windy weather conditions also tend to dry out water from the plants more quickly than cloudy or cool weather. To be specific, feel the soil about 3-4 inches below the surface. Now, if it feels dry, it is an indication that it is time to water the plants. Water it slowly and deeply so that the water will soak the soil instead of running off. To minimize evaporation, I advise you to water in the early morning.
- Protect Your Garden With Mulch
This step is crucial to help keep unwanted plants out and moisture in. Cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch. Note that you won’t have to water it from time to time, and by preventing sunlight from hitting the soil, you will also prevent unwanted plants from germinating. There are many mulches to choose from. Each of them has its benefits, including straw, river rock, and shredded bark. If you decide to use organic mulch like shredded bark, cocoa bean shells, or compost, it will help to nourish the soil as it decomposes. If you are starting a vegetable garden or annual bed, I recommend using a mulch that decomposes in a few months. And if you are running a perennial garden, I recommend you use a longer-lasting mulch such as bark chips.
- How to Maintain Your Garden
Now that you have successfully set up your garden and it is starting to grow just fine, the final stage is to maintain your garden. You need to help your garden reach its full potential. How? By keeping up with your garden chores. It would help if you watered the plants when necessary. It would help if you pulled out unwanted plants before they grow. It would help if you got rid of dying, dead, and infested plants. You need to remove destructive insects by removing them from the plants, dropping them into a bucket of sudsy water, hiding them away, or spraying some homemade or store-bought insecticidal soap. It would help if you supported taller plants such as your tomatoes with a trellis, stake, or a tepee. You also need to harvest your vegetables as soon as they are ready. Also, do not forget always to make out time to perceive whatever you are growing in your garden.
If you enrich your soil with compost before starting your garden, there is probably no need for you to do any additional fertilizing. Note that some vegetables such as corn and tomatoes are heavy feeders, and they may need a quick release of fertilizer once every 3 to 4 weeks. Seek advice from an expert at the garden center and always follow the instructions as written on the package.
Best things to plant in a garden
These healthy and nutritious vegetable plants will bring good health to your table and garden.
Broccoli is a very healthy vegetable that helps to reduce the risk of cancer. It is one of the best choices for your garden.
- Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is one of the best sources of vitamin A and the perfect choice for your garden.
Spinach is easy to grow. It is highly nutritious. One primary function of this vegetable is that it helps to prevent age related macular degeneration. It also plays a significant role in the prevention of heart attacks.
Carrots are rich in vitamins. They come in a variety of hues beyond orange, including white, yellow, and purple.
Garlic contains phytochemicals, which can help in reducing high blood pressure. Aside from that, it also helps to lower cancer rates and fight infections.
Avocados are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They help to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Tomatoes help to prevent breast cancer and heart disease. They are also straightforward to grow.