I am not a master gardener. In the beginning, I lost quite a few crops to bugs and laziness. My husband is very good with gardening, as he grew up doing it. He has experience with edible plants, flowers, and animals. I now would like to pass on some of the things he showed me to get started with a successful garden.
Design your Garden
By that I mean, will you plant in the ground or would a container garden be better suited for your needs? I personally use a combination of both. My most used items are in containers in my sunroom, that way I can step out the door and grab a pepper or tomato as needed. I also keep my herbs in containers in the sunroom.
What are you going to grow
It won’t do you much good to grow lemongrass or even tomatoes if you don’t eat those things. Grow things you use on a daily or almost daily basis. This is the best way to ensure you will not be wasting time. This is also the best way to see your money savings in the beginning.
Research your area
I am lucky with the area I live in (south-central Alabama). We have a red clay infusion in our ground soil and the weather here promotes an extended growing season. Learning weather patterns can help you plan a watering schedule as well. If you live in a cooler climate, you will need to start more of your seeds indoors. This will help when selecting seeds as well. Heirloom seeds are best because they are more easily saved for later use and more natural. Hybrid seeds can also be used if your area is a bit less than ideal.
Prepare to plant
If you are going to put your seeds in the ground, you will first need to till the soil and add compost. I began my compost pile with my organic scraps from cooking. Mix it into the turned soil add the seeds and water. If using containers, you still want to add compost. Some people use an enhanced soil and that is fine too, I just prefer composting.
Seeds, tools, wire, and gloves. Those are the basics of gardening. If you are growing tomatoes, peppers, or green beans you will need trellis wire for them to grow inside. Seeds should always be the heirloom or hybrid variety. This can take some searching but you can find them online as well. I get most of my seeds from Amazon.
Placing your garden
Most plants need different hours of sun per day to thrive. Be sure to consider this when picking a spot to grow. Larger plants that need more sun should be placed around the outside of your garden. Smaller shade-loving plants should be closer to the center. Make a small map to help you see the whole picture and allow yourself to move things around. When starting out it is good to visit your garden about every hour to track the sun coverage.
Room to grow
Different plants need different amounts of room to grow, ranging from 1-42 inches. Below is a small chart of the most common vegetables.
- Beets – 3
- Carrots – 2
- Corn – 6
- Cucumber – 36
- Lettuce – 4
- Onions – 5
- Peppers (sweet or hot) – 24
- Radishes – 1
- Spinach – 12
- Tomatoes – 42
Finally, consider your drainage situation. If the area seems to be wet more often then choose plants that need lots of water. Celery, Brussel sprouts, and watercress do well in this environment. Installing raised beds can help here is the moisture is just too high. Dryer land just means more watering.