I will be completely honest I failed at gardening more times then I care to count. I was never taught any gardening when I was raised, though I did help our neighbors pick vegetables and fruit, I didn’t pay much attention to the planting and growing part.
Well wasn’t that a mistake? I wish I could go back and tell myself to pay attention, you will need that knowledge one day. My wife on the other hand grew up only about 15 minutes from me, but they raised their own chickens, grew a big garden and even churned their own butter. We were raised 15 minutes apart but in two totally different worlds.
Anyway, if you are like me and your green thumb turns everything dead and brown then listen up. Here are some great tips for getting a great garden started.
Growing a garden isn’t hard. At its most basic level plants simply need dirt, water and sun to grow. If you provide these three things to a seed it will grow and it will produce food for you. All of the more “complicated” gardening tactics and tips are simply about increasing your harvest or maybe dealing with the occasional pest.
The first step you should take is checking what USDA zone you are in. Certain plants will grow better in certain areas and there are a lot of plants that simply won’t grow in some areas. In order to pick what kinds of vegetables you want to grow you’re going to need to make sure that they can be grown in your area.
Next you’ll want to decide what vegetables you want to plant. Obviously there are thousands of different varieties to choose from, but again, you’ll only be able to grow plants that will thrive in your region.
Even though there are only 3 core elements for growing vegetable plants, (soil, water and sunlight) there is an entire library of information out there about soil. You could spend years researching various soil enhancements, ph levels…the list goes on. Personally, I don’t have the time to dedicate several years to redeveloping the soil in my area, which is why I usually suggest container, or raised bed gardens to most people since you’re not actually using the soil on land and are instead making your own or using prepackaged soil. It makes the process a lot easier and it could avoid potential complications with your soil
Once you’ve planned out your garden and set up your soil it’s time to pick out some seeds. You can easily pick up the $1 package of seeds from your local Walmart or hardware store and they should work OK. In reality any seed that’s not old and dried out should work just fine. However, personally I would suggest looking into some non-GMO, open pollinated or organic seeds. If you’re not on the non-GMO bandwagon already, the biggest reason (for me) to use non-GMO seeds is simply because non-GMO veggies just taste so much better than their GMO counterparts.
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Certain plants need more than others. Before committing to a particular plant you need to make sure that it will grow well in the light conditions of your garden. If your garden gets a good amount of sunlight, you’re probably good to go to grow most everything that’s approved for your zone.
However, if your garden doesn’t receive a lot of sunlight you’ll want to do a little research on the plants you want to grow to make sure they will still strive under less than ideal lighting. Most plants will still do OK in lower lit areas; but you’ll probably see a decrease in vegetable production and yield.
First off, contrary to popular belief, mulching is absolutely not necessary to grow a garden. That being said, mulching can be extremely beneficial. Mulching is simply adding wood chips, peat moss, grass clippings/leaves or compost to your top soil after your plants have been planted.
Mulch can help reduce weeds in your garden significantly and it can add nutrients to your soil. It isn’t a necessity for a successful garden, but it does make things a lot easier, especially if you’re using compost to increase the soil’s fertility. It can also significantly increase your vegetable production.
Certain types of plants grow very well together and can help each other thrive. On the other hand, certain types of plants should never be grown in close proximity to each other because one could take over the other’s space and stunt its growth.
Here is a useful site that will give you a good idea of what plants would be good for companion planting in your garden.
If you’ve been on the fence about starting a garden, take some of these tips and get started this year. Even if all you do is put a pot with some dirt and a pepper plant on your porch you’re still headed in the right direction.
Do you have a green thumb? If so, please share some of your gardening tips and success stories with us.