Beginner Gardening Tips and Planning a Vegetable Garden

Starting a garden is an exciting project that can provide a source of entertainment as well as some tasty fare on your table. It can just as easily be a source of frustration and failed attempts. When you’re planning a vegetable garden, you might be under the impression that it must be a complicated mess that takes a lot of time. While it absolutely can be that way, there is no reason for it to be so. However, you can avoid the latter if you follow some very simple, basic beginner gardening tips….

Start composting early and often. Before you do any garden planting, set up your compost pile. Composting a good, rich soil can take months from when it is started. Because of this, it is a good idea to start the process as soon as you know you want to grow your own food. It is at this time that you may also want to look into other options that can assist your garden. Methods such as aquaponics or worm composting are all great additions to your regular gardening methods. Each one has its own benefits, but all will help your garden be even more successful than any single method by itself.

Take stock of the area that you will be using for your garden and gauge the space. The first step to planning your vegetable garden is knowing how much usable space you have. This will require more than a quick glance at your space. It is best to factor in things such as the gardening method you will be using, whether you will be doing any vertical gardening and so on. If you are building or buying raised garden beds, you will want to consider taking detailed measurements. Without them, you may end up with garden beds that do not fit where you want them to go.

Make sure that it is in full to mostly full sun all day long. Vegetables need lots of warmth and sunshine to grow big, healthy and delicious. Also, make sure that you aren’t starting your garden in a place that is overly wet in the spring or during your wet season. You want to be able to get into your garden as early as possible. Planning your garden in your yard’s wet spot will prevent this. Your plants will also suffer if they stand in water or wet soil for an extended period of time.

Know Your Garden Zone – Because the climate in your area will affect how your plants grow, you will need to know what your garden growing zone is before you plant. If you plant the wrong thing in the wrong zone, it will have a harder time making it to maturity and is not likely to produce the crop you want.

To find out what garden zone you live in, check the current USDA plant hardiness zone map. Be aware that some states such as Texas are divided into multiple zones. In cases such as that, you’ll want to estimate where you live as best as can. Some will also be right on the line of multiple zones. In this case, your best guess is the best option.

Another thing to consider is the soil in your garden spot. Chances are it is going to have to be amended with a few things to make it just right for vegetables. You can buy soil testing kits at any garden center. Just follow the guidelines on your kit or talk to a knowledgeable garden center employee to know what to add to your soil. You may need to add lime, sand, manure, peat, or any of a host of other things. This may seem time-consuming but the effort is worth it and necessary for success.

Probably the most challenging thing you will do is choosing your plants and seeds. Do not get discouraged by the vast amount of choices. Think carefully about what you will use and what you enjoy eating. Pick out varieties that are suitable for what you intend to use them for. You don’t want to buy pickling cucumbers when you are going to use them for slicing. Buying bush and compact varieties will allow you to have more in your garden. Lastly, remember to pick varieties that are compatible with your geographic area. If you live in an area with a short growing season, pick varieties that mature quickly.

When you purchase seeds, aim for heirloom options. Doing so will allow you to save the seeds of your crop for your next planting season. Seeds that are genetically modified such as those sold by conventional retailers are not heirloom and generally will not regrow a second time. When purchasing soil or seed starting pods, organic is your better option. This will ensure that your seeds do not get their start surrounded by toxins and chemicals you may not want in your new vegetable garden.

Decide What and When to Plant – Once those two things are out of the way, you can get down to the fun part of planning your garden! This is where having a garden planner can be a big help. It will allow you to keep track of what you want to plant, seeds you have purchased, planting dates and more.

To start planning what you will be planting, make a list of what you would like to grow. Once you have the list, visit a website such as the Farmer’s Almanac or your local Ag Extension website. Take a look at their planting guides for your garden zone and compare what you can grow against what you want to. Use this information to weed out anything that will not grow in your area. Next, take note of the first planting and last planting dates for your zone, these are your planting deadlines.

Once you have your garden planted and your plants are growing, you will need to think about watering, feeding, weeding, and sometimes you might need to worry about controlling insects or keeping out rodents. All of these tasks are important for the success of your garden. Watering daily during dry periods is necessary. Water in the morning hours before the sun gets hot to avoid burning the vegetation.

Beginner Gardening Tips

Keeping the weeds down will probably be your most arduous task. You can decrease the amount of time spent weeding by placing a layer of newspaper topped with grass clippings between rows and around plants.

There are many ways to deal with insects in a garden without using harsh chemicals. Having bees around can be helpful in this area too. Unless you suddenly find yourself with vegetables half eaten by insects, it’s often not a huge problem. Just keep an eye on how things are growing and worry about insect problems when they arise.

By following these basic steps, you will find yourself overrun with zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers before you know it. Take your time and enjoy the process. This is the most relaxing and fun part of a garden.