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Starting A Garden The Easy Way
Starting a garden doesn’t need to be hard. In fact it can be quick, easy and enjoyable. Are you tired of paying high prices for bland tasting vegetables, that offer little nutrition once they’ve made the long journey from farm to table?
Starting a garden in your own backyard is the easy and delicious solution.
Starting a garden is absolutely one of the best things that you can do and it is a cornerstone of a more self sufficient life.
There is no act more pleasing, more basic, more liberating, than to coax food from the earth. Food is our unending, most basic need and producing it for ourselves not only feeds the body, but nourishes the spirit too.
You may start out growing vegetables as a way to save money, but soon enough you will fall in love with the process.
- The planning
- The planting
- The expectation
- The excitement
- The satisfaction
You’ll join a fellowship of the nicest kind. I’ve yet to meet a grower that I didn’t like! We started our garden on overgrown meadow. The grass was 4 feet tall with plenty of weeds thrown in for good measure. We cut the grass with a brush cutter and then tilled our beds.
After a rough leveling with a rake we covered the area with a thick straw mulch and got down to planting. Any weeds that did make it through the mulch we simply pulled up and tossed on top of the straw where the sun dried them out.
We get tons of healthy, organic food straight from our own garden, without putting in hours and hours of work every week.
Follow the steps outlined on this page and you will soon be enjoying free, nutritious, tasty food from your own vegetable garden!
First things first
- Your planting zone
- Time you can spend in the garden
- Available space
- Access to water
- Your budget
For a super fast, instant garden, why not try growing vegetables in containers?
Don’t run before you can walk.
There is a lot to learn when you’re starting a garden so plan for a smaller, more easily managed garden the first time. It’s tempting to get carried away and plan a huge garden with space for all of the things that you want to grow. Big mistake!
Don’t bite off more than you can chew, or in this case plant more than you can hoe. You’ll get tired, sore and you’ll give up.
Start off with a garden no larger than 10′ X 10.’ 100 sq feet is plenty of space and you will be able to grow a lot of produce. You can always put in extra growing beds later.
Choose a location that receives as much sun as possible throughout the day and mark out your garden plot boundaries.
Now it’s time to dig!
Prefer a no dig garden! Raised beds and the Square Foot Gardening method produce amazing results in even the smallest spaces. If your garden turns out to be a thin layer of soil over old building rubble then a raised bed is the way to go.
The quickest way to prepare your garden bed is to dig with a tiller. You don’t need to rush out and buy one, those things aren’t cheap. See if you can hire one or borrow one from a friend.
If you think that holding onto a tiller is a bit more than you can handle, find someone local who tills gardens and have them do the job for you.
You can of course dig out your plot with a spade if you want to.
- Tip : Don’t till when the soil is too wet, it will stick to the tiller and you’ll spend most of your time prising it back off every 5 minutes
The soil will also be too clumpy and you’ll need to go back over it with a garden fork or rake to level things out and break up big lumps. You want to enjoy starting a garden, so don’t make extra work for yourself.
Check your soil
Once the soil is nicely worked over, get down and take a close look at what you’ve got. This is a really important thing to do, because if your soil is poor your plants will struggle.
Ideally your soil will be a nice freely draining, sandy loam. But don’t worry if you’ve got a clumpy clay soil, there are lots of things you can do to fix it.
If you’ve got access to some organic material, then now is the time to spread it on your garden and dig it in a little.
One thing you definitely should do now that you are a vegetable gardener is start a compost pile so that you have loads of lovely rich compost to add to your garden.
If you are an eco friendly minded soul with a little daring in your blood then you might want to opt for a The Humanure Handbook. Just click the link if you want to know more.
Your garden bed is ready for plants. Almost!
Check your soil levels. You want a ph level of between 6 and 7 for a general vegetable garden.
Some vegetables that you grow might prefer a more alkaline or a more acidic environment, so you’ll need to amend those spots accordingly.
Now it’s time to do your self a big favour and cut out 90% of the job all gardeners hate – Weeding!
Eliminating most of the weeding is one of the most import parts of starting a garden. Remember, the harder the garden is to take care of the more likely it is that you will give up.
How do you eliminate 90% of the weeds? You need to mulch your garden plot. Trust me on this. Your life will be so much easier if you take the time to spread a layer of mulch now.
- See Why Mulch Matters!
Decide what you want to grow
Stuck for ideas? Start with these 10 easy to grow vegetables
Figure out your plant and row spacings.
Plant spacings are the spaces between each plant in a row.
Row spacings are the spaces between the rows in your garden.
Don’t forget to include some companion plants to help protect your garden from pests and provide extra nutrients to the soil
Draw a plan of your garden and mark on it what each row will contain. Also note down the spacing between the rows.
Take some sticks and a tape measure out to your garden plot and using your plan mark out where your rows will be. Push a stick into the soil to mark each row.
Now you’re ready for plants
- If you want to start your own seedlings find out how to do it here
As this is your first time starting a garden, make life easy on yourself and buy seedlings from a plant nursery or garden store. Raising seedlings can be tricky and you need to start them early in most cases.
You won’t need to spend a lot of money to buy trays of plants. For example for the price of 2 heads of lettuce at grocery store, you can buy enough little lettuce plants to keep you in fresh salad leaves for months.
Here is another reason for buying seedlings for your first garden. Usually the stores stock plants when it is the right time to plant them out, lessening the chances that you will plant something too early or too late!
Choose healthy plants. Don’t buy plants that are wilting, that have yellowing or otherwise discolored leaves or have brown spots on leaves or stems.When you get your plants home place them in the shade and give them a good drink of water.
I like to plant out my young plants late afternoon or early evening so that the stronger afternoon sunlight doesn’t stress them too much.
Part the mulch and dig the soil a little with your trowel. Make a space for the plant and pop it in, pressing the soil firmly back into place around the plant.
Use your spacing stick to place the rest of the plants in the row.
Water the plants with a watering can with a fine rose head attached – you don’t want to batter your delicate plants with a heavy stream of water.
Push the mulch back around the plant, but not too close or the stem might rot.
Carry on and plant all of your rows the same way.
Taking care of your garden
Visit your garden several times a week – or daily if you prefer!
Look for weeds and pull them up while they are small. You shouldn’t have too many if you mulched.
Feed your plants on the recommended schedule for each variety.
- Learn how to make organic fertilizer teas your plants will love.
Check your plants for signs of insect damage and water them regularly if the weather has been dry.
Place supports for any climbing plants – tomatoes or cucumbers for example – and tie them to the supports as they grow.
Look out for your first vegetables and savor the flavor of home grown food.
- Tip – Don’t throw out your garden plan. You will want to refer to it if you decide to save some seeds, so you know which plants are which, especially if you have grown more than one variety of some vegetables.
You’ll also need your plan for working out crop rotation for next years garden!
Starting a garden could be one of the best thing you ever do.
- You’ll save money while enjoying fresh, healthy, chemical free food.
- You’ll become fitter and lower your stress levels.
- You can sell excess produce or give it away to your neighbors.
- You’ll have plenty of extras to preserve in delicious jams, chutneys and pickles.
- You’ll have a secure source of food, year after year, whatever happens to your finances.
If you’ve got any questions about starting a garden or growing vegetables, feel free to contact me and I’ll do our best to help you out