Never gardened before? No problem. Make your grow-you-own dreams a reality with these 10 easy-to-follow tips.
Starting a garden is just like real estate; it's all about location. Place your garden in a part of your yard where you'll see it regularly (out of sight, out of mind definitely applies to gardening). That way, you'll be much more likely to spend time in it.
Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you're first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun in order to thrive.
One of the best gardening tips you'll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don't have to lug water to it each time your plants get thirsty. The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that's about one knuckle deep). If it's dry, it's time to water.
When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just-right blend by mixing 3 inches of soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil if you're planning to plant in the ground.
When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that's large enough for the plant it's hosting, and fill it with Potting Mix. Not only is it specially formulated to help plants in pots thrive, but it also helps protect against over- and under-watering.
It's important to select plants that match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room (or a trellis to climb). Do your homework and pick varieties that will grow well where you live and in the space you have. And to get a step up on success when growing veggies and herbs, start with vigorous young plants instead of trying to grow from seed.
Knowing your "hardiness zone" can help you choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. So if a plant is "hardy to zone 4" and you garden in zone 5, that plant will survive in your yard. If, however, you're in zone 3, it's too cold to grow that particular plant.
Planting too early (or late) in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don't accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It's also good to know your first average fall frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them. Discover the average first and last frost dates for your area.
Apply a layer of mulch that's 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. For a polished look, put down a layer of bagged mulch. Or, you can put down straw, shredded leaves, pine straw, or some other locally available material.
We've already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success! So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food. Be sure to follow label directions.
One last word of advice: Stock up on the basic tools you need to make it easier to grow. Get all the details in our Tools for Gardening article. Happy growing!
Need help? Contact Monnick Supply.
135 Maple Street,
Call (508) 318-4788
Mon-Sat 7:00am to 5:00pm
759 Waverly Street,
Call (508) 386-9876
Mon-Sat 7:00am to 5:00pm