What Do You Need To Start A Landscaping Company – Want to start a garden but don’t know where to start? In this post, I’ll cover the basics of gardening and provide links to more detailed information so you can do it safely and fun.
We accompany you from preparing the bed to harvesting your own vegetables, flowers and herbs. Nothing beats the taste of freshly picked produce picked at the peak of ripeness!
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Rule #1 – If you won’t eat a crop, don’t grow it in your vegetable garden. (I break this rule with flowers. Edible or not, I like to see at least a few in every garden.) Focus on the fruits, vegetables, or herbs your family likes the most.
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Make sure your top choice matches your region. Know your gardening zone and the estimated first and last island dates. If possible, talk to successful gardeners in your area to find out which plants grow well and which don’t.
See USDA hardiness zones and their microclimates for more information on how growing conditions affect garden plans.
In my northern garden, plants that take more than 100 days to mature or high temperatures are a gamble. For example, we like watermelon, but I stick to varieties like Blacktail Mountain (70 days) rather than Carolina Cross (90 days). My southern gardening friend Amber has issues with crops like peas that prefer cooler temperatures and vining crops like cucumbers that are prone to powdery mildew in high humidity.
If you only want a small garden, don’t try to grow something like a giant pumpkin that will spread over a very large area.
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Do you want to store vegetables or just enough to eat fresh? It’s probably best to start your garden with mostly fresh food, but some vegetables are very easy to store. For more information, see 5 Easier Vegetables to Store.
If you are building a garden from scratch, now is the time to choose the best possible location.
Most fruits and vegetables need full sun with at least five hours of direct sunlight per day to bear fruit. Vegetables, herbs and root vegetables grow in partial shade. Southern gardens can benefit from late afternoon shade, while northern gardens will likely need as much sun as possible.
Think about how you will go into the garden to pick, water and tend to your plants. Away from the site, the mind is often lost – and the garden neglected. Avoid areas with high winds and frost pockets (low areas where frost can settle).
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Watch out for wild animals, pet damage and children’s playgrounds. When we moved here, our neighbor’s dog happened to run around the garden. It was very difficult for young seedlings. Now the dog is gone, but deer and wild rabbits visit, so we plan accordingly.
For tips, see Keep Deer in Your Garden 5 Deer Repelling Strategies and 6 Ways to Use Garlic in the Garden.
For more limited gardening ideas, see Small Garden, Big Harvest – 10 Tips for a Big Harvest.
Once you know where you want to locate your garden, decide on the type and size of garden beds. Raised beds are attractive and make gardening easier, but they also dry out faster. In very dry areas, sunken beds can be used to collect available moisture.
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Consider planting your garden in blocks or beds rather than individual rows. Beds should be 3 to 4 feet wide—narrow enough that you can reach the middle on either side. Beds should be about 10 feet long or less so you are not tempted to climb into the bed and compact the soil.
Place plants in garden beds in rows or in a grid pattern. The aim is to reduce footpaths and increase cultivation space. You only add fertilizer and soil amendments to the planting area, saving time and money. Work with companion plants to attract beneficial insects and improve yields.
Start small and make sure each plant has enough room to grow. Seeds and transplants are tiny, but mature plants can become huge. Overcrowded plants have trouble thriving. A small, well-kept garden can yield as much or more than a large, poorly-kept garden.
The most common are rectangular or square beds, but you are only limited by your imagination and building skills. Most raised bed kits are rectangular, but you can also plant your garden in found objects, such as old cattle water tanks or parts of sewer pipes.
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See Raised Beds for more information on the different types of raised beds and how to work with them.
Growing vertically allows you to squeeze more plants into a smaller space. The best book I’ve found on the subject so far is How to Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops) in Less Land Than You Ever Thought.
Tomatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers and sometimes other crops I grow or grow vertically. For more information, see 10 Reasons to Enjoy Gardening Instead of Staying Outside.
What if you have a garden with limited growing space? Consider planting bags or containers to start your garden. Self-watering containers are much more forgiving than terracotta flower pots, which tend to dry out quickly.
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GreenStalk vertical planters are a great solution to fit a lot of growing space into a small space. They have a multi-stage irrigation system, so the entire growing area is watered evenly.
You can use the discount code commonsense10 to get $10 off your GreenStalk purchase. Visit the GreenStalk website here to order or learn more.
With the right tools, gardening becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. You don’t use a butter knife to chop raw carrots, and you shouldn’t use blunt or flimsy tools when gardening. Basic garden equipment includes:
For a full list of my favorite garden tools, visit The Best Gardening Tools That Make Gardening Easier.
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Don’t buy cheap plastic tools if you can avoid it. Find great deals on real metal tools at yard and estate sales or visit your local garden center. Get the right size tools to reduce the risk of injury.
Good tools save time and effort and protect your back. Keep your tools clean and sharp, just like you would a good knife. To learn how to keep your tools in good condition, visit Cleaning and sharpening garden tools.
Before you start building garden beds or planting, you need to know something about garden soil.
Is your soil acidic, alkaline or pH neutral? Do you have sand, clay, silt, rock, or a mixture of all four? Is there a risk of soil contamination from nearby structures, roads or other sources? Does it contain enough basic nutrients?
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Some of these properties can already be determined by soil conditions. Others may require home testing or professional lab testing. For example, lead contamination from old paint or nearby busy roads is a problem in some areas.
Most horticultural crops prefer soils with a pH around 7 (neutral), although some like conditions that are slightly acidic (such as potatoes) or slightly alkaline (Brassica). A balanced level of nutrients is just as important as the presence of organic matter.
See “Soil Tests – 5 Easy Tests for Your Yard and Garden” for easy testing options at home. In the US, you can also contact your local liaison office for advice.
If you start with weeds, you’ll either have to chop them up and use them over and over again until they go down, or spread wet newspaper or cardboard to smother them and build a bed over them. It’s best to prepare for the fall, but don’t let that stop you from starting in the spring.
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Most plants prefer deep, well-drained, fertile soil rich in organic matter. Plant roots need good garden soil to produce good vegetables and fruits.
Once you have a garden, you will gain a new appreciation for healthy soil as it gets better year after year. Healthy, vibrant soil = healthy, vibrant plants with built-in disease and pest resistance and more nutrients.
Every year I add different types of organic matter including compost, worm droppings and mulch. You can learn more about soil composition in the post “Feed Your Plants, Soil and Microbes”.
For my favorite seed sources, see 10 Heirloom Seed Companies You Don’t Want to Miss. Dave’s Garden Watch Dog is a great place to check out a company before ordering from them.
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To learn which plants are best to grow from direct seed in the garden and which plants are better for transplanting, visit the Seed Starting Calendar. If you want to grow certain strains, especially heirloom strains, you will likely need to grow your own grafts from seed. Starting your own transplant is also a great way to save money.
You can see my seed setup and details on transplanting tomatoes in Growing Tomatoes From Seed – Save Money, Get More Varieties.
If you’re not ready to tackle growing transplants in your garden, here are some tips on how to do it